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  Russia pushed the United States into the crossroad

Darius Varanavièius, political scientist, executive editor of the magazine "The State"
2007 07 19

The G-8 Summit in Germany was overshadowed by the confrontation of the Russian and American leaders. This has become a new stage of contraposition on the missile shield in Central Europe and showed once more that Russia is not only aggressive but also capable of choosing tactical solutions unexpected by other countries.

V.Putin did not criticize G.Bush for the intentions of the United States to deploy the AMD system in Russia‘s neighborhood. There was no rhetoric in the voice of the Russian leader although recently it reminded the cold war. In Germany we saw V.Putin capable of making use of the statement of the American politicians, that deployment of the anti-missile defense system in Central Europe is necessary with a view to protecting from such countries as Iran or Northern Korea. The Russian response was rapid and quite clumsy in terms of the United States: „let‘s use the Gabala radiolocation station in Azerbaijan together“, said V.Putin. While defending from the countries mentioned by G.Bush, the support near the Caspian Sea is mush more reliable than in CzechRepublic or Poland. The Gabala radar station, constructed during the soviet times, is one of the most powerful in the world and controls the territory including the Indian Ocean, the Near and Middle east and Northern Africa. There is no need to construct or re-equip the station, since it is in the neutral territory – Azerbaijan.

By suggesting to jointly supervise Iran and Northern Korea from Azerbaijan, Russia has put one more spanner in the works of the United States. After all, a possible minor response of the United States to V.Putin‘s suggestion, can be considered by the Czechs and the Polish as a betrayal. Let alone the tension between the new members of  NATO, which have already started competing on where the Americans should construct their bases. It is enough to recall the words of the Latvian Prime Minister on his country’s will to have radars or missiles in its territory.

After the above suggestion Russia has taken over the strategic initiative in its relations with the United States. Former threats of the Kremlin to Washington on violation of balance in deploying the missiles in the Central Europe did not look sedately; moreover that the United States has publicly declared that future stations would be exceptionally of a defensive character. However, today it is clear that Moscow has moved from defensive actions to a subtle attack executed very timely and targeted to the future presidential elections in both states.

Preservation of the current situation for the Kremlin would also mean further strategic planning, since it is no good waiting for obvious political changes after the elections in Russia. The president of the United States today is supported only by 32 per cent of citizens, and this is quite contrary to the worship of V.Putin in Russia. A possible victory of democrats in the presidential elections (they are already dominating in the Congress) would mean the changes in the foreign policy of the United States as well. They might be related to certain retractions (say, from Iraq), and Russia would try to use this in the sphere of public relations.

However, today one could hardly expect further encouragements of the Kremlin to implement the joint Project in Gabala as soon as possible. Moscow will certainly wait and listen to Washington’s talks with Prague and Warsaw. These conversations will be very difficult, since Central Europe takes seriously the promises of the West.

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