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Russia and ex-Soviet Union (English)

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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Russia and Georgia: Caucasian calculus

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Georgia is to Russia as Colombia is to Venezuela, and Kaidanow spells trouble, analyses Eric Walberg
 
War clouds refuse to disperse a year after Georgia waged war against Russia. On the anniversary of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's ill-fated invasion of South Ossetia 8 August, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev warned: "Georgia does not stop threatening to restore its 'territorial integrity' by force.
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Bulgaria vs Ukraine: Don't blink

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Obama's geopolitical demarche in Russia's backyard is moving ahead nicely -- for the present, notes Eric Walberg

First there was the election in Bulgaria 5 July which brought a new party to power -- Boyko Borisov's Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria. Borisov, or Batman, as he is affectionately called, was a Communist-era policeman who subsequently established a prosperous private security business and has been the mayor of Sofia since 2005. He campaigned on the usual -- to fight corruption and secure a better economic future. The Batman bragged in an interview with Der Spiegel of receiving "letters of accolade" from the CIA and FBI, presumably for his battle with the dark forces. One of the first things he did as PM, however, was to suspend the existing energy contracts with Moscow, both the South Stream and a nuclear power plant project.

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Russia-US summit: Quiet diplomacy

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Confronted by multiple irritants from Washington, the Kremlin seems to have caved, wonders Eric Walberg

A little over 40 per cent of Russians consider Russian-US relations strained or hostile, down slightly from 2004 when 46 per cent said they considered the US to be Russia’s adversary. United States President Barack Obama’s world PR campaign is working, despite the issues dividing the two countries, from Star Wars missiles in Poland and US plans for cyber warfare, to NATO’s love-affair with Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan to name just a few of Russia’s neighbours.

So Russia's agreement, announced at Obama’s summit in Moscow 6-8 July, to ferry primarily US troops and arms through Russian land and air space to Afghanistan

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Gas war: Cold War shivers

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Sense is returning to East-West relations, despite the US and NATO, affirms Eric Walberg

1/1/9 -- 2008 will be remembered as a turning point in Russia's relations with the West. It was a tumultuous year, with Kosovo, missiles in Europe and NATO's seemingly relentless march eastward like thunderclouds gathering on Russia's horizon, which finally burst 8 August over South Ossetia. It brought tragedy to Georgians, triumph and tragedy to Ossetians and Russians, as the Russian army stopped short of Tbilisi in their defence of the plucky Ossetians.

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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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