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Russia and ex-Soviet Union (English)

Courting the bear

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A flurry of meetings in November 2008 -- in Nice, Brussels and Sharm El-Sheikh -- show the changing face of Russian-Western relations, says Eric Walberg

 20/11/8 -- Russia's struggle to become a respected player in world affairs moved forward tentatively with a Russian-European Union summit in Nice in November 2008. Participants said Friday that the meeting underlined improved relations. The European trade commissioner, Catherine Ashton, said talk had been "robust, but very open. Presidents Sarkozy, Barroso and Medvedev were very direct with each other in the spirit of having a dialogue." European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, using rather "robust" diplomatic language, ridiculed the Russian threat to station missiles in Kaliningrad, made just hours after Obama had won the US presidential election last week: "If we start with the idea that there are missiles on one side or the other, we come back to the Cold War rhetoric which is, I would even say, stupid."


Obama and Russia: Untying the Gordian Knot

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Nothing much has changed to reduce US-Russian tensions with the election of Obama -- yet, opines Eric Walberg

13/11/8 -- Russian President Dmitri Medvedev gave his state-of-the-union address the day after the US elections in November 2008, just a few hours after Barack Obama's historic electoral triumph, and pointedly refrained from mentioning it, though he is on record as hoping for an Obama presidency. "It would be easier to work with people with a modern outlook, rather than those whose eyes are turned back to the past,"


The quiet Russian

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The UN vote to refer Kosovo's legitimacy to the ICJ reveals a new political constellation taking shape, observes Eric Walberg
16/10/8 -- In October 2008 Serbia's neighbours Montenegro and Macedonia recognised Kosovo, the world's newest country -- leaving aside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, bringing the number of its official friends to 48. However, after expelling Macedonia's ambassador in a huff, Serbia was soon all smiles as the United Nations General Assembly supported its request that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rule on the legality of Kosovo's independence -- by an impressive vote of 77-6.

The ghost of Stalingrad

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Russia is determined to bring NATO's expansion eastward to a halt. Can it prevail, asks Eric Walberg

18/9/8 -- NATO's metamorphosis from Cold War Euro-policeman into the unabashed global military arm of the United States over the past 18 years has left a trail of debris from the Balkans to Afghanistan that will take decades to clear. It is a flagrant violation of the agreement James Baker III made with Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev that the US would not extend the borders of NATO eastwards in return for Moscow allowing a united Germany to be a member of NATO


Georgia's war against Russia: 'Wag the Dog' Part II

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Was an independent Ossetia inevitable after Kosovo or is it a US election ruse gone wrong, asks Eric Walberg

4/9/8 -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave a gritty, straight-talking 30-minute interview with CNN this week in Russian. It was not translated or reported on widely in the US media, which is a shame. He charged that US military personnel were in South Ossetia during the attack, and lectured about such topics as Ossetia's long membership in the Russian empire (since 1801) and Ossetians' age-old resentment of Georgian chauvinism, especially following the 1917 Russian revolution and the 1990 declaration of Georgian independence. A South Ossetian legislator has already mooted the possibility that it will eventually become part of the Russian Federation.


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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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