Saturday, February 9, 2008

Putin Returns Russia to Cold War Arms Race

Casting a peaceful revamped hammer and sickle nation as stuck watching in horror as the evil US empire beefs up on European based missile defense shields against a benevolent Mother Russia is something only a daring former head KGB spy like Putin would pull off with a straight face. His hemispheric example of closing Soviet missile bases in former client states, Vietnam and Cuba, showed Russia heeding concerns. But now, the US is playing war games in his backyard and he says get off his lawn. Time's Man of the Year, Vlad, gets a three-fer out of his reluctant warrior speech in front of the full State Council. He charts the forced march Russia is on for Dmitry Medvedev, his handpicked presidential puppet, as he elevates/retires to Prime Minister with a focus on "Special" Projects to match or trounce US arms efforts.
"It's not our fault. We didn't start it . . . funneling multibillions of dollars into developing weapons systems," Putin declared in what may be his final major address before he leaves the Kremlin after presidential elections March 2, to become prime minister.

"Russia has and always will have a response to these new challenges," Putin declared. "Over the next few years, Russia will start production of new types of arms, with the same or even superior specifications compared to those available to other nations."

Putin outright accuses the US and NATO of making Russia enter the arms race because of their perceived hegemony in the trillion dollar armament market. But the real salt in Putin's wound are US bases and missile stations in what were formerly USSR territorial possessions; Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria. His attack dog speech is also for Russian public consumption as the whiff of going on a war footing is based on his need to protect the perceived encroachment of Russia's borders.

Pooty-Poot, as a diplomacy challenged Bush nicknamed Putin, is on a drive to regain superpower status while putting the world on notice. Russia's oligarchy is changing hands with more Putin allies taking control of the economic levers. Putin ruthlessly quashed Russian internal dissent in a blazing fireball of democratic destruction by pre-emptively striking to stop cold a political rival from gaining access to the March ballot. OSCE, international election monitors walked away in protest. More members of the press have been murdered in Moscow and a former spy famously poisoned in London to keep them permanently silent.

The Kremlin is spinning Putin's pungent war machine rhetoric into something much more vanilla for world audiences. Putin's peevishness stems from stinging critiques delivered from the West on his backing out of the 1990 Conventional Forces of Europe Treaty which had caps on aircraft and other military hardware. Trust, but verify, as Reagan put it, has a new spin. The west also has deep concerns on the status of nuclear materials as new alliances shift with Russian partners - like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadimejad.

For centuries, classic Literature captures much of the genius and life sorrows Russians endured. Most recently, a thoughtful and intriguing work was finished before the gunning down of one Russia's best journalists in the foyer of her apartment. Ana Politkovskaya penned most of her final thoughts in books including the excellent, A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption and Death In Putin's Russia.

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