Russia and ex-Soviet Union (English)

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.

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.

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

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.

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."

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