Tarheeltalker

Meanwhile, Back in Moscow

While, we wonder about airline security and potential terrorist attacks and whether the system worked or not, there are some interesting noises coming from Moscow. And, making those noises is none other than Vladimir Putin, the real head of Russia. You knew that last part already, right? Check out some of these comments  in an article from the UK Times. By the way, he was at Vladivostok while speaking. Big Russian naval base, might have heard of it. His comments come just weeks after those made on Russian television in which he praised Stalin for building  a superpower and winning a war.

He said today that Russia must forge ahead in developing new weapons to prevent  the United States from doing”whatever they want.” He is traveling around the Far East of Russia in a rather high-profile trip for this time of year. During this trip he keeps  stepping into those areas supposedly the purview oof Mr Medvedev, his hand picked  seat warmer, I mean successor. Wonder if Putin can wait till 2012 to reassume the visible reins of power?

Never forget the bear.

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December 30, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Still the Bear

On one side, we have President Obama and vice-president Biden. On the we have other side we have Prime Minister Putin( a clear case where  the #2 man is really #1) and President Medvedev. Without any  more information than that, which pair outweighs the other? And is it important? Sad to say, and I mean that sincerely, I fear that the Russian duo is the weightier of the two. I remember  Bush  saying that he had looked into Putin’s eyes and  found him trustworthy. This was in June, 2001. It did not necessarily turn out that way in the ensuing years . So, now Bush has moved on and Putin( remember, once KGB , always KGB) is still there.

I suppose that 2, maybe 3  things really started me thinking along these lines, one more so than the other. In recent weeks, both Shimon Peres and Benjamin Neyanyahu have been to Russia  and at the least  met with Medvedev. Did they meet with Putin, doesn’t really matter, now does it? Medvedev made the announcement that Israel  was not planning  a  strike on Iran. Now, examine this  a bit. Israel is our ally, Iran is Russia’s, yet a really important statement was  made by Russia on behalf of Israel.  Perhaps, while there, Netanyahu pushed  for Russia to restrain Iran. Did they agree, hard to say as the bear  seemed  to play his cards close. However, Medvedev reserved the right to sell S-300’s , classified as  defensive weapons by Russia, among other unnaned weapons, to Iran. This particular thing had to be galling to Israel which has tried in vain to prevent such sales.

Then Putin says just few days ago, that he and Medvedev might “switch” places again. In theory then, Putin  could be around for another 10-15 years. Really comforting thought, huh?

Finally, there is the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic that was and now is not. Russia is pleased,  conservatives are up in arms, opinion in Eastern Europe seems mixed , Obama says just chill out guys. It was  never   about Russia anyway. Perhaps, perhaps not. I will admit to a bit of confusion about the  issue. Should we interpret this  as a win for Russia, and a  loss for the United States or maybe a win-win.Do we want better relations with Russia, perhaps want and need is a better way of phrasing it.

What is interesting is that Senator Lindsay Graham, R, SC and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have different views, significantly different, of the President’s views. Realizing that this has been a bit of a ramble, let me just say that a somewhat significant shift on our part would go down better if there had beena  reciprocal  token, albeit small, from the bear. One will note that there was none, for Israel or the United States.

Growll !!

September 20, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Coastal Visitors

Living close to the Outer Banks, we are somewhat familiar with tourist season. Lots of folks go through Elizabeth City on their way to and from the beaches. On occasion, I actually will make a brief pilgrimage to the land of surf. It is kinda neat to see the varied places from which people come  to vacation  in our area.

However, it seems of late that we are having a return of some visitors who used to come in days gone by. Lo, and behold, they have returned unannounced to our coastal waters. Yes, we are talking about  your friendly neighborhood Russian submarines. Been quite a  while  but they’re baaaccck!! Bear in mind that this comes shortly after Russian ships went through the Panama Canal for the first time.

Relation between the US and Russia are in a chilly state as it is and one  must wonder what these nuclear powered attack subs are doing. They have yet to enter into  our territorial waters but they have to know that we know and are watching their  movements. So says  our Northern Command through spokesman Michael Kucharek.

To me it reflects the persona of one Vladimir Putin and perhaps signals an intent to resume a bigger role on the world stage. That is when he isn’t diving into the world’s deepest lake in a submersible.

Gotta love this quote  by the Northern Command and the  North American Aerospace Defense Command. “We have been monitoring them during transit and recognize the right of all nations to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters  according to international law”. We know how the Russians have always loved international law. Oh, by the way, they conveniently forgot to tell us about this exercise in advance. Sneaky rascals are they not?

So at  least, we don’t have to search for Red October-yet.

From Russia with ?
From Russia with ?

But the Pentagon says not to worry.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | International politics, military | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cold, Colder, Coldest ?

There is currently a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies, the heating homes type of gas. Bear in mind, that it is really cold over there right now. Vladimir Putin, the real power in Russia has okay ed Russian energy monopoly Gazprom to cut supplies to Europe by the same amount that the Ukrainians are allegedly stealing. At the heart of the matter, as El Rushbo says, follow the money. On January 1 , the original parties in the dispute failed to agree on a fixed price for 2009 and we now have spreading chaos.

Among the countries affected are Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Romania, Croatia and even Britain. There are some signs that things are close to being resolved but at what cost, who knows. And, what are the long term effects of any hardships caused?

And article by Jeremy Warner in the UK Independent makes a telling and chilling( pun intended ) point. Gazprom is a creature of the Kremlin and as such the political and the economic are certainly intertwined. He goes on to say that one definitely does  not want to become beholden for ones energy supply to the big ole bear. Supplies shut of f once can be shut off again with no notice or provocation.

Author Joel Rosenberg in one of his excellent fiction works wrote of such a scenario where Russia could easily hold Europe as an energy hostage. A number of fictional events that Mr Rosenberg wrote about in advance have transpired. We could be looking at the next one .

Just think, energy supplies as a weapon.  Not a pleasant thing to consider.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Energy, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Has the Cold War Returned ?

Lots of activity , both overt and otherwise involving Russia headed by one Vladimir Putin ( former KGB – Ha ) There is a lot going on here, some of which is visible and some of which is implied . One of many questions is , do we do anything other than talk tough and send humanitarian aid to those in need ? Since I started this post things have gone from bad to worse in the country of Georgia . I saw a Wall Street Journal article today that described Georgia as battered which is not good by any definition . United States officials, including Secretary of State Rice and President Bush continue to use strong language in urging Russia to withdraw its forces and respect Georgia’s territorial integrity . Meanwhile French officials who helped broker the ceasefire say that that they see signs a pullback of Russian forces is beginning . Unfortunately , no one else seems to see those signs as Russian military activity continues . One additional comment , was it not a brilliant tactical move move by the Russians to launch their offensive or whatever you call it , during the Olympics ? I have another perspective on these events which I hope to elaborate on tomorrow . Meanwhile , if you are so inclined pray for the Georgian people .

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Foreign Policy, International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment