Saturday, July 11, 2009

Russia's Problem

It did not take long for President Medvedev and PM Putin to reveal that the veneer of success portrayed in the press on the meetings in Moscow with President Obama is just that - a veneer. That veneer was scraped off as President Medvedev announced on July 10 that Russia will deploy short range missiles in Kaliningrad aimed at Warsaw if the BMD deployment in Poland by the US goes forward.

Clearly, the refusal by the United States to discuss either the deployment of the BMD system or Russia's claim of a sphere of influence over its neighbors is a deep annoyance to Putin, who cancelled his attendance at a gala in the Kremlin, resulting in a similar cancellation by President Obama.

As I have posted earlier, the interests of Russia and the United States are not at all similar. Russia wants US and European influence restricted, if not eliminated, in bordering regions. It would be a mistake for the US to accede to Russian desires. Although the BMD system deployment could, and likely should be cancelled, more positioning of US assets in Poland and the Baltic States would be more effective in focusing Russia's attention on the distrust it has cultivated in its near-abroad, Europe and the US.

The problem with Russia is that it does nothing but "oppose" by throwing up roadblocks to any movement toward settlement of issues in key areas of the world - Palestine, Iran, Georgia and Central Asia. This proclivity to create, rather than solve problems, represents the actions of a weak and paranoid state. For it to keep thrusting itself on the political stage as a world power equal to China, the EU or the US is absurd for a variety of economic and social reasons.

Although it deserves respect, Russia's inability to propose solutions other than those masquerading as such but which are always solely targeted at expanding its political sphere of influence, preclude reasonable dialogue at this time.

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