[A-List] Russia: reasserting itself
michael011 at fastmail.fm
Thu Apr 26 06:26:21 MDT 2007
Putin pulls Russia back from post-Cold War treaty
The Times, April 26 2007
President Vladimir Putin today froze Russia's compliance with the 1990
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, one of the key agreements
that helped end the Cold War stand-off between Nato and the Soviet bloc.
The precise consequences of the move were unclear, but it appeared to
confirm a growing assertiveness from the Russian leader, who has caused
widespread concern in the West with his willingness to use Russia's vast
energy reserves as a political tool.
Mr Putin announced the moratorium in his annual state of the nation
address to parliament and also confirmed that it would be his last such
speech. He dismissed speculation that he would engineer a constitutional
amendment to allow him a third term in office but drew a laugh from
deputies by saying: "It is premature for me to declare a political
Mr Putin linked the decision to step back from the CFE treaty with a US
plan to station elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech
Republic, two former Soviet states that have now joined Nato.
He said that the Nato alliance was "building up military bases on our
borders and, more than that, they are also planning to station elements
of anti-missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic".
In this connection, I consider it expedient to declare a moratorium on
Russias implementation of this treaty -- in any case, until all
countries of the world have ratified and started to strictly implement
it, Mr Putin said in his annual address to both houses of the Russian
The CFE treaty, signed in 1990 between Nato and the Warsaw Pact, allowed
the destruction of 60,000 tanks, vehicles, artillery pieces, planes and
helicopters. Under it, the number of armed forces was also reduced from
5.7 million troops to fewer than three million, and inspections and
transparency were reinforced.
But Mr Putin pointed out that an adapted treaty, signed in 1999 in
Istanbul, has been ratified by only four countries however, including
The President's speech was delayed by the death and funeral of Mr
Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who was buried yesterday on what was
declared a day of national mourning.
Mr Yeltsin's send-off reflected the ambivalence most Russians feel about
his legacy - he is widely seen as the man who killed off the Soviet
Union only to replace it with free-market economic chaos.
Under Mr Putin, whose second four-year term ends next year, the Russian
economy has boomed, largely on the back of increased oil exports and
soaring energy prices.
Mr Putin proposed today that part of the country's accumulated oil
wealth - held in the "National Prosperity Fund" - should be used to
support voluntary pensions saving and help development schemes.
But he complained that foreign money was being used to meddle in
Russias internal affairs and called for tougher laws to fight
There is a growing influx of foreign cash used to directly meddle in
our domestic affairs, he said. Some people are not averse to using the
dirtiest methods, trying to foment inter-ethnic and religious hatred in
our multi-national country.
In this respect, I am addressing you with a request to speed up the
adoption of amendments to the legislation toughening punishment for
extremist actions, he said.
In a clear reference to the opposition, Mr Putin said there were
internal forces in Russia which dislike its political stability and
steady economic growth and wanted to steal its natural resources - and
they were playing into the hands of foreign colonialists willing to
We see that even in the epoch of colonialism there was a thesis about
the so-called civilising role of the colonialist states, Mr Putin
said. Nowadays they make use of democratic slogans, but they pursue one
single true goal -- to gain unilateral advantages ... and protect their
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