The 21st Century Phenomenon



Already before US President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow, on 07/06/2009, Russia made two gestures to USA. The first was the green light Russia gave to Kirgizstan to renew and enlarge the contract with USA to continue using Manas air base, crucial to military operations in Afghanistan, on 06/25/2009 (see – Kyrgyzstan Deal). The second gesture was the permission Russia gave, just days before the visit, to USA to use Russian air space to transfer not only supplies but also combat troops to Afghanistan, which substantially simplify the logistic burden of the Afghan war. Indeed Russia created a convenient atmosphere to “reset”, as Barack Obama put it, the relations between Russia and USA.


Russia was expecting, in return, USA to cancel its plan to deploy an anti-missiles system in East Europe, once part of the Warsaw Alliance, under full control of the Soviet Union. Russia also expected US to go back on the intention to add Ukraine and Georgia, once part of the Soviet Union itself, to NATO. This issue outrages the Russians and is a major obstacle to full cooperation between Russia and USA over the nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea. Russia sees in these steps a strategic attempt to undermine Russia as a super power and to limit its strategic options.


Despite the good atmosphere between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev from Russia, the disagreement was clear.  Obama said that only after the Iranian threat will be removed there will be no need for the anti-missiles system to be deployed to Eastern Europe. Russia said the opposite – it will cooperate with USA to contain the Iranian threat only after USA removes from the table the anti-missiles system issue and the NATO expansion to the East.


On Thursday 07/23/2009, USA Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit in Georgia, has pledged full support for Georgia (see – Georgia Crisis). Few days earlier, in Ukraine Joe Biden declared that “No one can tell Ukraine who will be its allies” – a clear hint that it is fully legitimate for Ukraine to join NATO. Ukraine was, for generations, part of the heartland of Russia and its agricultural granary and Russia will use almost all its means, except full scale war, to prevent, by all cost, Ukraine to be part of NATO.    


Joe Biden’s visit to Georgia and the trip to Ukraine earlier this week were aimed at reassuring the two countries, who are both seeking NATO membership, that the USA will not abandon them despite its recent overtures to Moscow. 


The vice president told the Georgian parliament: “I know there is some concern, and I understand it, that our efforts to reset relations with Russia will come at the expense of Georgia…Let me be clear: they have not, they will not and they cannot.”


The support of USA to the independency of Ukraine and Georgia, economically and diplomatically, is fully understood. But the support to add those countries to NATO, basically an anti-Russian alliance, and the deployment of an anti-missiles system in East Europe, are other issues and may even undermine their independence.


Bottom line -USA must decide whether they want to confront the major problems of the world with Russia or alone and against Russia.
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