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Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Ariel Cohen Thinks We Can’t Read Russian: Cohen’s Misleading Critique of Obama’s “Reset” of U.S.-Russian Relations

Posted by K.E. White on June 24, 2010

Yes, Ariel Cohen thinks I can’t read Russian.

Actually he’s right. But I can do a quick babblefish translation.

Why is this important? Because translating one of Cohen’s cites reveals his critique to be grossly misleading.

Ariel Cohen, a Heritage Foundation research fellow, launches this clumsy and fatally exaggerated data-dump on Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obama’s “reset” strategy towards Russia.

But his most explosive charge against the “reset” seems built on little more than exaggeration. In return for sanctions on Iran and a new START treaty, Cohen suggests that Obama has given Russia a free hand in “the post-Soviet ‘near abroad’”citing to a Russian publication. Now that vague term triggers images of a new Cold War divide in Europe.

Unfortunately, the cited article states nothing close to Cohen’s implication. In fact, the article, written by a Russian researcher, actually extols America recognizing recent Ukrainian elections that brought a pro-Russian government to power.

That’s a far cry from giving Russia a free hand to the post-Soviet near abroad.

And that doesn’t even get to the article’s most egregious omission: Cohen criticizes a lot, but fails to offer any alternative.

Sloppy research and data-dumping shouldn’t be permitted by any think-tank, whether it’s a blog-post or article.

Here’s a recapitulation of Cohen’s exhaustive list of U.S. “concessions” to Russia:

1. “limiting the U.S. ballistic missile defense”

2. Recognizing “Russia’s exclusive zone of interests” in the “post-Soviet near abroad” (Again, this actually means recognizing Russia’s increased influence in the Ukraine, not a free-hand in Eastern Europe)

3. “new security architecture in Europe”

4. 123 civilian nuclear reactor agreement — $10-15 billion in new nuclear fuel reprocessing business

5. Support for Russia’s entry into the WTO

6. Secret deal to limit U.S. ballistic missile defense (how does one argue against the charge of a secret deal?)

7. Russia has allowed more U.S. and NATO traffic of Russian territory

And in return, according to Cohen, America has received remarkably little:

1. Russia still supporting Venezuela and Syria

2. Weak sanctions against Iran “In short, Russia will be milking the rest for all its worth.”

3. A new START treaty with one-sides terms in two significant ways: first, the U.S has to eliminate 80 warheads more than Russia; second, the United States must eliminate 150 delivery platforms, while Russia can add over 100.  (A somewhat biased view of the agreement)

I have two questions for Cohen. First, what concessions would he take back? Second, what pressure should America apply to Russia?

Cohen’s article acts as a rejoinder to Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obamaland’s foreign policy towards Russia. In his Politico op-ed, Kerry endorses the “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations: heralding the new START treaty, and Russia’s support of new Security Council sanctions against Iran, decision to not sell Iran anti-aircraft missiles and open airspace to US and NATO flights to Afghanistan.

Ariel Cohen serves as Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at the Katherine and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Owen Graham, Research Assistant to the Davis Center, contributed to the blog-post.

Posted in Diplomacy, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russia Rearms: Why is the Bear Roaring?

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2009

President Dmitry Medvedev announced a “large scale rearming” of Russia’s conventional and nuclear forces in 2011. 

The NYTimes portrays it as a mix of diplomatic posturing for Medvedev’s meeting with Obama and the response to Russian military weaknesses shown in the recent Georgia-Russian war. The Guardian heralds the new arms race, putting blame squarely on America’s maximalist foreign policy. And Canda.com views the announcement as geared more towards the Russian public. 

In short, the move is not welcome news—but it’s not entirely unexpected. And its meaning will take form over this year. Medvedev has drawn various lines in the sand: moves towards having airbases in Cuba, setting up bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, helping rid of an American base in Kyrgyzstan, and now a rearmament announcement. Keep in mind, Russia has for years protested expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe–and drew a bloodly red line in Georgia.

And let’s not ignore another possible cause of this announcement: the economic crisis. Russia may be signaling that current economic woes will not change their strategic objectives. 

But one thing is clear: The US-Russian relationship is entering a critical phase, and the Obama administration must tread carefully.  

Posted in Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russia Update: Ailing Economy; Successful Missile Test & Delayed Nuclear Deal with Australia

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 20, 2008

 

AFP reports that Australia may drag its feet on a nuclear fuel deal with Russia. Meanwhile, Russia keeps up its aggressive posturing: Deutsche Welle reports on Russia’s successful testing of a new ballistic missile.

By the way, the missile can hold up to ten nuclear warheads.

But how does the recent finance-melt and US-led bailout alter Russia’s geo-political outlook. With Asian, European and Russian markets benefiting from the record $700 US tax payer-backed bailout coupled with falling oil-prices, how much saber-rattling can Russia afford?

Here’s a WSJ article examining Russia’s economic troubles. From the article:

 

The market’s collapse, down 57% since May, is linked to the dysfunctional nature of the Russian state and economy. Nearly every aspect of commerce in Russia is deeply entangled with state power, if not with Mr. Putin personally. This, for obvious reasons, does not comfort most investors.

One famous investor in particular was worried about the security of doing business in Mr. Putin’s Russia. Rupert Murdoch, speaking on News Corp.’s earnings call on Aug. 5, had this to say: “The more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it. The more successful we’d be, the more vulnerable we’d be to have it stolen from us, so there we sell now.”

The hoped-for liberalization under new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has turned out to be another case of wishful thinking both in Russia and the West. There’s no doubt in the business community about who’s really in charge. After his cronies’ takeover attempt of steel and coal giant Mechel was rebuffed, Mr. Putin’s public outburst of criticism in late July was enough to destroy the company’s market value.

From AFP:

The west’s relations with Russia are at a turning point after its intervention in Georgia and a pact to sell Australian uranium to Moscow is in the balance, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Thursday. 

Parliament’s treaties committee earlier recommended that the deal signed with former president Vladimir Putin last year be put on hold because of concerns about Russia’s nuclear weapons programme. 

The committee said the government should first satisfy itself that the billion-dollars-a-year (800,000 US dollars) worth of the nuclear fuel would be used solely for civilian nuclear power. 

And it should give more consideration to recent events such as the conflict in Georgia, the committee’s report said.

… 

Australia, which has the world’s largest known reserves of uranium, stipulated in its pact to sell the nuclear material to Russia that it not be used to make nuclear weapons or be sold on to any other country.

And from Deutsche Welle: 

With a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), the Bulava can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads.

The missile test-fire comes during a time when US-Russia relations have hit a post Cold War low after Moscow’s recent military intervention in Georgia. Washington harshly criticized the military move.

Posted in Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bush’s Other Lopsided Nuclear Deal: Sokolski Slams American Nuclear Cooperation with Russia

Posted by K.E. White on February 2, 2008

As posted earlier, nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia is ramping up. Originally a plan to purchase Russian nuclear materials to power American nuclear power plants, Russia will now be paid (billions) to temporarily store these materials and be granted testing of American nuclear fuels. 

Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, points out two flaws of the deal: America’s nuclear industries get “zilch” from the deal, and Russia is rewarded while supporting Iranian nuclear aspirations and providing other military assistance. 

Sokolski tackles why the administration—through the Department of Energy (DOE)—is backing the deal: 

Backers of the deal at the Energy Department, though, are motivated to test the waters. They are especially anxious now to substitute the U.S.-Russian cooperative nuclear weapons reduction programs that are nearing completion with a new set of U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear projects, projects that are only permissible if a formal nuclear cooperative agreement with Russia is put into force. These officials cynically calculate that Congress is too preoccupied with presidential-year politics to step in by the 90-day deadline.

 

The trade-off seems clear: while Russia is undermining Iran’s nuclear containment, it is more important to keep—or bride them—for their continued cooperation on nuclear matters. 

While Sokolski does paint a troublesome picture of executive dominance over America’s nuclear policies, he would have done well to briefly discuss Russo-American cooperative threat reduction (CTR) activities. 

Sokolski necessarily paints a simplified picture of American and Russian priorities. But CTR between the two countries is perhaps the most important aspect of their ‘nuclear’ relationship. CTR seeks to ensure Russian nuclear-weapons capable materials stay out of terrorist hands. 

From Richard Weitz’s April 2007 report on Russian-American Security Cooperation:

 

On a more positive note, the cooperative threat reduction process between Russia and its former Cold War adversaries remains one of the most successful examples of peacetime security collaboration between major military powers. Since major funding increases for weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related threat reduction projects in Russia are unlikely, however, both sides should consider more creative solutions to several recurring problems that have impeded further progress. For example, measures to resolve disputes over access to sensitive Russian sites could include  granting Russian representatives more opportunities  to see U.S. WMD-related sites, hiring Russian firms or personnel to help dismantle excessive WMD stocks in the United States, and supplying additional data  concerning U.S.-funded threat reduction projects in Russia in return for more detailed information about Russia’s WMD-related facilities and employees,  especially those involved in Soviet-era biological and  chemical weapons activities.

 

Opportunities for additional progress in curbing third-party WMD proliferation also exist. Chances for Russian-American collaboration on joint or multilateral threat reduction projects outside the former Soviet Union increased substantially in June 2003, when the  G-8 governments agreed that the “Global Partnership  Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction” could in principle support threat  reduction activities in countries besides Russia. Another opportunity for Russian-American collaboration on  threat reduction projects beyond Russia arose in May  2004, when U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced a Global Threat Reduction Initiative  (GTRI) to identify, secure, and dispose of stockpiles of vulnerable civilian nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment throughout the world. The GTRI involves close cooperation between the United States and Russia in securing these high-risk sources. At the July 2006 G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Presidents Bush and Putin launched a Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and opened formal negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement. (pages 9-10)

 

But this consideration does not diminish this aspect of Sokolski’s argument: DOE’s sidelining of any real Congressional oversight is gravely distressing. 

Whoever enters the White House in 2009 will review and retool America’s overall security posture. Whether shifting overall troop levels or modifying our nation’s various nuclear cooperation agreements, success will depend of the President’s ability to forge a new national security consensus. Such Congressional muzzling can not only lead to bad foreign policy, but erodes the fundamental challenge our nation faces in the age of international terrorism.

Posted in Congress, congressional oversight, cooperative threat reduction, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Nuclear, nuclear cooperation, Russia, United States | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bulgaria Update: Two Nuclear Reactors to Return, Russian Nuclear Powerplant Contract to be Concluded Tomorrow

Posted by K.E. White on January 17, 2008

Bulgaria, having trouble meeting its growing energy needs, is set to sign a contract with Russia for a nuclear power plant tomorrow.

From CNN.com:

‘We will sign on January 18 an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build two pressurized water reactors of 1,000 megawatts each,’ Economy and Energy minister Petar Dimitrov told a news conference.

‘The contract will be implemented by Atomstroiexport. A joint venture between Areva and Siemens (NYSE:SI) will be the sub-contractor,’ Dimitrov said, putting the total value of the contract at 4 bln eur.

A letter-of-intent to build the plant at Belene on the River Danube was signed in November 2006.

But this deal is not stopping Bulgaria from reopening to nuclear reactors it shut down to join the European Union. From the Kyiv Post:

Plagued by electricity shortages, Bulgaria on Wednesday announced it was considering plans to reopen nuclear reactors it had to shut down before joining the European Union a year ago.

The two Russian-made units at Bulgaria‘s only nuclear plant, Kozlodui, were switched off just hours before the Balkan country joined the European Union on Jan. 1, 2007.

“We are holding active diplomatic talks to achieve the necessary support to prolong the life of Kozlodui’s units 3 and 4,” Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said.

He did not elaborate but said reopening the reactors was a “clear political choice of the government.”

The move would require approval from the other 26 EU members.

Posted in Bulgaria, energy, Nuclear, Russia | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thursday Morning Tea

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Mirroring the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country, the new counter-proliferation teams “will bring together the prosecutors, the investigating agencies, the export licensing agencies, and the intelligence community to coordinate their efforts against export theft on both the strategic and an operational level,” Wainstein said.

  • The American Interest tackles American grand strategy. Key-word: restraint. But what about solving two thorny dilemmas: stabilizing Iraq and keeping Iran nuclear-weapons free.

Posted in Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Department of Justice, GNEP, HR 1400, Nukes of Hazard, Putin, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russia Can Roar, But What Does It Mean?

Posted by K.E. White on October 4, 2007

That’s the question Wired asks in an article published today. The article explores the actual significance of Russia’s recent ‘father of all bombs’ missile test. And it even offers reasons not to fret over the return of Russia’s Cold War era nuclear patrols

John Pike, an analyst at Global Security, and Tom Burky, a Battelle research scientist, help assuage fears that this bomb signifies a newly resurgent Russian military prowess:

“It’s actually a niche weapon,” Burky says. “They have their place, in attacking caves. But there are only so many caves you’re going to attack. Not that we should ignore them.”

Indeed, the Father of All Bombs’ actual destructive force and military utility are perhaps less important than its apparent power.

“Some people claim Russia did this because they were upset about our (ballistic) missile-defense proposals for Poland and the Czech Republic,” Coyle says. “Other people say it has more to do with the upcoming presidential elections in Russia. Maybe (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is trying to preserve his legacy.”

And the article downplays concerns over the recent Russian decision to resume nuclear-armed air patrols:

Case in point, the much-hyped bomber patrols. In the past year, Russian long-range bomber types, including the Tu-160 featured in the video, have begun probing Western air defenses, in an echo of Cold War practices.

But according to Hudson Institute fellow Richard Weitz, the bombers themselves are old and poorly maintained — State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack referred to them being taken “out of mothballs.” Henry T. Nash, in his book Nuclear Weapons and International Behavior, describes deterrence as “being closely tied to the ‘politics of appearances.'”

So it doesn’t matter so much if a bomber is well-maintained, as long as it appears on U.S. radars. Nor does it matter if the Father of All Bombs is a fuel-air explosive or a thermobaric device, if it is really the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the world, or even if it is a new weapon at all. All that matters is that it makes an impressive explosion for the cameras.

The Russian bear may be able to roar, but perhaps we shouldn’t fear its bite—yet.

Posted in David Axe, John Pike, Russia, Tom Burky, Wired | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Russian Big Bang: World’s Largest Non-Nuke Bomb Tested

Posted by K.E. White on September 12, 2007

(Update: Wired questions the significance of the testing)

Russia announced earlier today it had successfully tested a conventional bomb with the same destructive power of a low-yield nuclear weapon:

The bomb was filmed being dropped from a strategic bomber and exploding into a massive fireball. It then showed the after-effects of the bomb’s wrath – debris from apartment buildings and armoured vehicles at the testing range, and a huge burnt spot in the ground.

Russia‘s big bomb is reportedly four times more powerful than the US’s Massive Ordnance Air Blast, which is nicknamed the “mother of all bombs.” Russia’s would be suitable for targeting specific areas more accurately than nuclear bombs, and is considered an immediate threat to “problem” areas such as Chechnya. (Cleveland Leader)

Interestingly the Cleveland Leader article leads out one aspect of the test that The Times of India leads with in their coverage:

The vacuum bomb tested by Russia on Wednesday is said to be less harmful on the environment than a nuclear bomb.

Alexander Rukshin, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff, said: “I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one.”

The Times of India also reports that this thermoberic weapon beats out America’s own thermoberic big bomb:

Showing the orange-painted US prototype, the report said the Russian bomb was four times more powerful – 44 metric tons of TNT equivalent – and the temperature at the epicenter of its blast was twice as high.

US forces have used a ‘thermobaric’ bomb, which works on similar principles, in their campaign against Al Qaida and Taliban forces in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

GlobalSecurity.org reports on America’s use of thermobaric technology for non-nuclear bunker buster weapons:

Thermobaric munitions have been used by many nations of the world and their proliferation is an indication of how effectively these weapons can be used in urban and complex terrain. The ability of thermobaric weapons to provide massed heat and pressure effects at a single point in time cannot be reproduced by conventional weapons without massive collateral destruction. Thermobaric weapon technologies provide the commander a new choice in protecting the force, and a new offensive weapon that can be used in a mounted or dismounted mode against complex environments.

The Thermobaric [TB] Weapon Demonstration will develop a weapon concept that is based on a new class of solid fuel-air explosive thermobarics. The weapon could be used against a certain type of tunnel targets for a maximum functional kill of the tunnels.

Most of the Hard and/or Deeply Buried Targets (HDBTs), namely tunnels in rock, are so deep that the developmental and current inventory weapons cannot penetrate to sufficient depths to directly destroy critical assets. One of the warfighter’s options is to attack the tunnel portals with weapons that penetrate the thinner layer of rock above the portal, or though the exterior doors, resulting in a detonation within the tunnel system. Penetrations through the door systems have the potential to place the warheads deep within the facility. Detonations within a tunnel, even only in a few diameters, have a significant increase in airblast propagation into the facility compared to external detonations. Tunnel layouts range from long, straight tunnels to various types of intersections, expansions, constrictions, chambers, rooms, alcoves, and multiple levels. All of these configurations affect the propagation of airblast.

Posted in bunker buster, missile test, Russia, thermoberic | 4 Comments »

Russia Update: Still Denying Blame for the Georgia Missile Flap; Russia Expels British Diplomats; Joint China-Russia Terror Exercise Performed

Posted by K.E. White on August 22, 2007

Summary: The bear is roaring in Russia. Russia is maintaining its hard-line stance in Georgia and on the Alexander Litvinenko murder. The reason? Russia is reasserting its diplomatic weight. And, in even more SCO news, China and Russia hold their first joint terror drills.

Two independent groups agree with Georgia in the missile dispute between Russia and Georgia.

But, if accurate, what was the rationale for this peculiar action?

The most recent PINR report delves into this issue. Seeing Georgia as a “catalyst of Russo-Western tensions in the wider Black Sea region” Dr. Federico Bordonaro confirms the ‘missile’ verdict: finding Russia guilty of violating Georgian airspace.

The reason? Push back against Western influence in the region. Russia has taken harder positions on Kosovo and US-backed plans for a European missile shield. There seems to be a battle for influence: with Russia preferring OSCE to be the central playing ground in Europe, not NATO. The reason? Russia’s veto power in OSCE. The Western preference is NATO, naturally.

From the PINR report:

The timing of the incident also raises questions. Russia is saber-rattling: strategic bombers are now regularly flying again beyond Russian airspace, like in the Cold War years; military expenses are on the rise; Moscowannounced a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and openly accuses\nWashington of unilaterally destroying the\nEuropean strategic balance by setting up a B.M.D.\nsystem without consulting Russia. At the same\ntime, the Kremlin has adopted rigid stances on\nKosovo, Transnistria, and Georgia. The impression is that Russia wants to\nreposition itself clearly as a re-established\nglobal power before the United States elects a\nnew president in the fall of 2008. American\npre-election tactics, Washington’s difficult\nMiddle East campaign, and high oil and gas prices\ngive Russia an opportunity to accelerate its\ncomeback. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that\nMoscow will seek an extreme diplomatic crisis\nwith Washington in the coming months and years.\nInstead, it will presumably formulate a broad\nproposal, designed to re-negotiate its strategic\nrelations with the West. Briefly said, Russia\nwants to re-negotiate what it had to do in\n1990-1992 from a weak position, during its deep\npolitical, economic, and military crisis that\nfollowed the perestroika years. The Tsitelubani incident\nand the following inquiry have some important\nramifications and implications for both global\nand regional actors. The U.S. and E.U. low-key\nprotests signal the weakness of the Euro-Atlantic\nalliance at this moment. Apart from some\nsensationalist articles in the press, which try\nto validate the theory of a full-blown neo-Cold\nWar, Western diplomatic reactions have been\ncautious. Western divisions, which\nstem from the different security and strategic\ncultures in Europe and the United States,\ncontinue to hamper the birth of a comprehensive\nAtlantic geostrategy in the wider Black Sea\nregion — notwithstanding the sea of printed\nproposals and studies on the issue. Russia is\nsuccessfully exploiting such a void, especially\nat a time of U.S. fatigue in the Middle East and\nAfghanistan. As a consequence of such\nWestern tactical difficulties and strategic\ndilemmas, Russia will remain confident and at\ntimes threatening in the South Caucasus, despite\ninternational condemnation for actions such as\nthose carried out in Upper Kodori or South\nOssetia.”, and openly accuses Washington of unilaterally destroying the European strategic balance by setting up a B.M.D. system without consulting Russia. At the same time, the Kremlin has adopted rigid stances on Kosovo, Transnistria, and Georgia.

The results of the missile incident’s ongoing inquiry appear to contradict Russian claims and will presumably augment Moscow’s negative image among Euro-Atlantic decision-makers. However, this seems to be a calculated risk by Russia. At the moment, the Kremlin gives less importance to its international image than to its ability to put pressure on some geostrategic hotspots.

Driving a wedge between pro-Western elites in former Soviet states and the enlarged N.A.T.O. is critical for Russia’s geopolitical interests. Therefore, look for Moscow to insist on a series of negotiations on the wider Black Sea region’s frozen conflicts and Kosovo, which will seek to secure Russian interests and influence. The and E.U. will now have to make a fundamental decision: either they opt for a harder stance and try to continue the expansion of the Euro-Atlantic geostrategic realm deep inside, or they will need to take Russian interests seriously. This latter possibility would mean that the broad arc of instability extending from Belarus to Central Asia through the wider Black Sea region will assume a bipolar structure (the Euro-Atlantic combine and Moscow being the two poles), where Russia will be able to project power and influence, notwithstanding the E.U. and N.A.T.O.’s enlargement.

Now an accommodation can be made, but the Russian broadcast is clear: Europe will have to take Russian interests into account.

In other news, China and Russia are conducting joint terrorism exercises next month in Moscow:

China‘s armed police and the interior forces of Russia will conduct for the first time a joint anti-terrorism drill in Moscow in early September.

“Cooperation 2007” will be the first international anti-terrorism exercise for China’s armed police outside the country.

The drill was in accordance with the principles of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and related agreements signed by the two countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

And remember the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko? Britain does. And Britain’s demand for answers continue to brew trouble against the countries. But fret not:

“I think British-Russian relations will develop normally. We are interested in the development of relations both from the Russian side and from the British,” Putin said on the sidelines of an ethnic festival in western Russia.

“I am sure that this mini-crisis will be overcome,” he added.

Posted in Alexander Litvinenko, Britain, China, Federico Bordonaro, Georgia, missile, NATO, OSCE, Putin, Russia, SCO | Leave a Comment »

Russia-Georgia Missile Jolt: Two Independent Groups Take Georgia’s Side, But Don’t Think Russia is Backing Down

Posted by K.E. White on August 22, 2007

Update: Russia Denies, But Now in the Face of Two Independent Assessments

The charges are being leveled: “political tsunami” (Russian UN representative Vitaly Churkin) vs. “shameless Soviet diplomacy” (Georgian Deputy Minister Merab Antadze)

From the International Herald Tribune:

Russia accused Georgia on Tuesday of fabricating claims that a Russian plane entered the country’s airspace and dropped a missile because it wanted to create “a political tsunami.”

Georgia says a Russian SU-24 jet entered the country’s airspace and dropped a missile on Aug. 6. The missile did not explode and no casualties were reported, but the incident sharply escalated long-standing tensions between Georgia and its giant neighbor over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia — near where the missile fell — and Abkhazia.

Two groups of independent experts that investigated the incident agreed that Georgian airspace was violated three times on Aug. 6 by aircraft flying from Russian airspace. The second team, from Estonia, Poland and Britain, said their investigation on Aug. 18-19 found that the last two passes were towards Georgian radar near Gori, and the missile was launched approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the radar site.

But Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a news conference that Russian defense experts who visited Georgia last week concluded that the “outlandish accusations” of Russian involvement “appear unfounded.”

Another post will delve more into this curious diplomatic maneuvering.

Posted in Georgia, Merab Antadze, missile, Russia, Vitaly Churkin | Leave a Comment »