in charge?: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and
Minister Vladimir Putin at a Russian ski resort near Sochi,
Southern Russia, Jan. 3.
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia
Putin Shows 'Who's Boss'
"Putin has taken it upon himself to seriously impede a new Russia-U.S. strategic weapons treaty. ... By
announcing Russia's demands, Putin deliberately violated an agreement between the
Kremlin and the White House not to disclose any details about START III talks until
a new treaty is signed."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: What is their relationship really like? The nature of their compact remains an enigma. But certainly, there is little sign that Putin has ceded foreign policy to his junior partner.
Prime Minister Putin has demonstrated
whose word is to be cast in stone. No sooner had President Medvedev finished berating
Putin henchman Sergei
Chemezov, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin showed who's boss. Speaking to reporters
in Vladivostok, Putin stomped all over the president's territory by, for instance, speculating
on reforms at the Interior Ministry (under Russian law, the Ministry is subordinate
to the president - not the prime minister). And he touched on a sore point of foreign
policy, calling plans to rebuild Georgia's shattered Kutaisi
Memorial in Moscow a "punch in the nose" to Georgia (Prime Minister
Putin, as we can see, is far from hiding the fact that for him, the memory of WW
II is no more than an instrument in his anti-Georgia campaign). And finally,
the most important thing is that Putin has taken it upon himself to seriously impede a
new Russia-U.S. strategic weapons treaty.
[Editor's Note: The World War
II memorial in Kutaisi, Georgia [photo below], was in honor of Georgian soldiers
who died fighting the Nazis for the Soviet Union and its allies between 1941
and 1945. Georgian authorities razed the memorial to make way for a new
parliament building, outraging Russians].
World War II memorial in Kutaisi, Georgia: Razed last month
Georgian authorities, Russian Prime Minister Putin has vowed
rebuild it in Moscow. The memorial honored Georgian troops
died fighting the Nazis for the Soviet Union.
Putin told the reporters that,
"Our American partners are building an Anti- Ballistic Missile system, and
we are not … but the problems of missile defense and offensive weapons are
closely linked. What kept and preserved peace, even in the context of the "Cold
War," was a balance of power, which includes the ratio of missile defense,
air defense and offensive arms systems," - insisted our head of
government. And, "if one is not to develop missile defense systems, then a
threat appears, because having created such an umbrella, our partners may feel
completely protected and will do what they want … then our partners will begin
doing whatever they like, increasing their aggressiveness in both Realpolitik
and economics. The balance will be disrupted."
It must be said that the
picture drawn by the prime minister bares little resemblance to reality.
Vladimir Putin assiduously demonstrates that he's a fan of the Extended Deterrence Doctrine.
What things all boil down to is that nuclear parity between Russia and the
United States, verified with pharmacological precision, will help Moscow pursue
its goals in areas far removed from security, including the economy and "Realpolitik"
(Putin's reminder about Realpolitik is more than revealing).
The only problem is that this
ideal of parity disappeared long ago. And the issue isn't American missile
defense. The United States has almost twice as many strategic delivery
vehicles: 1100 against Russia's 600. With such superiority, American plans to
deploy a strategic missile defense system hardly affect the balance of forces. Right
now, according to experts, the United States has only fifty missiles interceptors,
which are capable of stopping no more than ten warheads. This cannot seriously
disrupt parity, which in any case no longer exists.
But talking about America's advantage
in delivery vehicles doesn't play into Putin's hands. After all, more
meticulous observers might ask why, if parity is so necessary to Russian
leadership and after the fat years of oil wealth, Putin hasn't resumed building
missiles during the last decade?
It's far more convenient for
him to speculate about the American missile defense system. Putin hasn't
forgotten how his "friend George" unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty. Thus, plans to build an ABM system (about which now, after
the White House gave up plans to deploy elements of strategic defense in Poland
and the Czech Republic, little is known) - is a great excuse to drag out negotiations
for START III.
And here, the prime minister
decides to intervene directly in Russian-American talks. He says: "If we
want to maintain a balance, we must foster the exchange of information: let our
American partners provide us with all the information on missile defense, and
we'll hand over to them some information on offensive weapons."
But the fact is that Russian
generals have long complained of an alleged injustice: according to START-I,
the sides must share data on every rocket launch. The "injustice" is
that Americans aren't developing new offensive weapons, for the simple reason
that they don't consider our side to be a military threat (which, evidently, terribly
offends comrade V.V. Putin). From time to time they carry out missile launches
in order to check the status of their nuclear forces. But information about these
launches is of no interest to Russian analysts - for the 1000th time, they
receive telemetry on the launch of a missile developed 30 or 40 years ago.
But Russian launches are another
story. Moscow, as Putin rightly pointed out, is focused on creating a new
generation of offensive strategic weapons. And, naturally, Americans are
curious about how testing for Bulava, aka/RS-56 or the RS-24 are going. Therefore,
Russia put forth the proposal that in exchange for this data, the U.S. would provide
us with the telemetry of its missile defense tests. Among other things, this is
a way to establish a de-facto link between offensive strategic weapons and
strategic missile defense.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
All of this would be fine, except
for the fact that by announcing Russia's demands, Putin deliberately violated an
agreement between the Kremlin and the White House not to disclose any details about
the talks until a new treaty is signed. This, as well as the fact that Putin
unequivocally considers the United States to be a strategic adversary, will of
course be used by opponents of the START Treaty in the U.S. Senate. But,
apparently, that is precisely what the Russian prime minister is trying to do.
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