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Russia and ex-Soviet Union (English)

Reagan’s ghost: Starwars stops START

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Russian confidence that US President Barack Obama might represent a fundamental change in the direction of US foreign policy is fast eroding. Even pro-Western analyst Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre reflects, “The people who see Russia as a problem are still at the Pentagon,” and he predicts that even if Obama lasts another seven years, the Russians are coming to the conclusion that “he may not be able to withstand the pressures on him.”

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Russia, NATO and Afghanistan: High stakes Great Game

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What did Medvedev have up his sleeve when he welcomed Obama's new surge in Afghanistan, wonders Eric Walberg

US President Barack Obama's now expanding war against the Taliban is garnering support from liberals and neocons alike, from leaders around the world, even from Russia. “We are ready to support these efforts, guarantee the transit of troops, take part in economic projects and train police and the military,” Russian President Dmitri Medvedev declared in a recent press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Moscow and Washington reached an agreement in July allowing the US to launch up to 4,500 US flights a year over Russia, opening a major supply route for American operations in Afghanistan. Previously Russia had only allowed the US
to ship non-lethal military supplies across its territory by train.
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Terror in Russia: Nothing comes from nothing

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The worst terrorist attack to hit Russia in five years, the bombing of the Nevsky Express train last week, was almost certainly by Islamist extremists, and security forces are just not prepared for these less spectacular acts of terrorism, Russian security experts say.

The cause of the crash was identified as a homemade bomb that exploded on the tracks between Moscow and St Petersburg, killing 26, wounding scores and raising fears of a new era of terrorism in Russia.

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Russia-India-China: The Bush curse

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Moscow is trying to draw India and China closer to put out the flames now flaring across the continent, from the Caucasus and Central Asia, to Iran and Pakistan, notes Eric Walberg

United States President Barack Obama has shown a flicker of independence in shaping US Eurasian politics. To secure transit routes through Russia to Afghanistan, he loudly proclaimed the end to US missile base plans for Poland and the Czech Republic, and downplayed any further NATO expansion in Russia’s backyard. He resisted jumping on the Gates-Clinton-McChrystal escalation bandwagon, insisting that it would be counterproductive to blindly back the thoroughly discredited Karzai, and hinting that negotiations with the Taliban and Iran could mean an about-face on the Bush strategy of total war in the region.

Obama’s strategy is now described as focussed on securing the main cities in Afghanistan,

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NATO vs CSTO: The Fogh of war

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NATO’s reputation as the guardian of peace on Earth is in tatters these days. Once avowedly an alliance of North America and Western Europe to fight the communist hordes of Eurasia, it morphed into something quite difference with the collapse of the socialist bloc two decades ago. It now pretends to unite all of Europe to fight the Muslim hordes wherever they be found and, of course the Russians, just for good measure.

To do this, it expanded rapidly in the past decade, and now has a Partnership for Peace with ex-Soviet hopefuls. It also has various formulas to incorporate Western-oriented Muslim nations, including the Mediterranean Dialogue (which includes Israel) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) minus Saudi and Oman). Morocco and Israel are further blessed as “major non-NATO allies” of the US. Even more ambitious is the GCC+4 (+ Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, US), heralded in 2007 as the “NATO of the Middle East”, but then once-upon-a-time so was the ill-fated Baghdad Pact, originally called the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO). The real “NATO of the Middle East ” is of course US+1.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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