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Russia`s Medvedev hits out at US

Posted by Kris Roman on November 5, 2008

 

 

 

The Age

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has blamed the United States for the world’s problems and announced new missile deployments in Europe, calling on incoming US counterpart Barack Obama to mend Washington’s ways.

Medvedev rounded on the United States for ills ranging from the global financial crisis to the recent war in Georgia, in a state-of-the-nation speech that was watched intently by his mentor Vladimir Putin, and omitted mentioning Obama by name.
“The economy of the United States dragged down with it into recession the financial markets of the whole planet,” Medvedev said. “This crisis took on a global character.”

Medvedev detailed a litany of complaints made in recent years against the United States, including enlargement of the NATO alliance and US support for Russia’s southern Caucasus foe Georgia.
“What we’ve had to deal with in the last few years – the construction of a global missile defence system, the encirclement of Russia by military blocs, unrestrained NATO enlargement … The impression is we are being tested to the limit,” he said.

His comments contrasted with the upbeat mood among many Western countries in response to Obama’s presidential election win.

In contrast with leaders ranging from China’s Hu Jintao to France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, Medvedev was almost alone in not sending Obama speedy public congratulations.

His only reference to the US election was to say: “We hope that our partners, the new US administration, will make the choice of fully-fledged relations with Russia.”

He went on to announce the deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the western Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders US allies Lithuania and Poland, in response to US missile defence plans.

He said the United States had sped up plans to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and radar facilities in the Czech Republic in reaction to the war in Georgia in August over the Russian-backed region of South Ossetia.

Russia says the US plans threaten Russian security and dismisses claims they are directed against “rogue states” such as Iran.
“Iskander missile systems will be deployed in Kaliningrad region to neutralise the missile defence system,” Medvedev said.

The war in Georgia, in which Russia’s military onslaught was condemned by the West, was “a consequence of the presumptuous policies of the US administration,” Medvedev said.

“We will not back down in the Caucasus,” he said.

In his first state-of-the-nation speech since taking over from Putin in May, Medvedev also announced he planned to extend presidential terms from four to six years, although he gave no detail on how this would be applied.

Analysts question how far Medvedev really controls Russian foreign and domestic policy, with many affirming that Putin, who holds the office of prime minister and is head of the main party, remains in control.

Putin continues to fraternise with fellow world leaders, taking tea with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a tent in the grounds of the Kremlin last week.

Russia has repeatedly blamed the United States for the global financial crisis, which has hit Russia’s economy hard.

Russia’s stock markets have plunged by two thirds since May and trading was again suspended on the ruble-denominated MICEX market due to volatility.

Analyst Maria Lipman, of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said a pause in the current hostility between the George W Bush administration and the Kremlin would be welcome under Obama but there was a long-term risk that Russia would remain a second-tier priority for the White House.

This meant a risk of further flare-ups like the war in Georgia, as well as a dangerous weakening of arms control mechanisms, already undermined during the Bush presidency, she said.

For the Russian leadership, “relations between Russia and the United States are so low at this point and the problems so deep there are hardly expectations that relations can improve,” said Lipman, summing up her cautious approach.
“There are deep problems dividing the two countries and they will not disappear because there is a new president,” she added.

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