Russia and ex-Soviet Union (English)

Vlad refuses to play by his erstwhile friends' rules and is not afraid to tell them so. Eric Walberg watches the schoolyard antics
18/10/7 -- 9-16 October 2007 was a busy week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. First he had a visit from French President Nicolas Sarkozy 9 October, followed by both United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates 12-13 October, who were in Moscow for talks with their Russian counterparts the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. He then squeezed in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prior to departing to Wiesbaden to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Then he set off to Tehran to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite reports that suicide terrorists had been trained to assassinate him in Iran.

The cancellation of the CFE treaty by Russia and the tit-for-tat expulsion of Russian and British diplomats -- seemingly unrelated -- have strong parallels in Cold War mythology, according to Eric Walberg

26/7/7 -- The decision in July 2007 by the Russian government to withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty negotiated in the dying days of the SU comes as no surprise. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gave the US the shop, being more concerned about domestic reform and Western aid, convinced that Reagan's US was really a peace-loving sort.

Litvinenko brandishing a Chechen sword Last week's cancellation of the CFE treaty by Russia and the tit-for-tat expulsion of Russian and British diplomats -- seemingly unrelated -- have strong parallels in Cold War mythology, according to Eric Walberg

26/7/7 -- Four Russian diplomats were expelled from Britain last week as a pressure tactic to try to force Russia to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the key suspect in the death of a former KGB officer and proud new UK citizen, Alexander Litvinenko. The expulsion came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was pulling out of the CFE treaty and as Polish President Lech Kaczynski was visiting Washington to finalise the US missile bases in Europe. What a coincidence.

A romp on the seashore gives Eric Walberg a chance to reflect on the Bush-Putin legacies

5/7/7 -- Wouldn't the Bush-Putin saga make a wonderful comic strip? The two most powerful men in the world first meet in June 2001, a few months before the Attack of the Evil Jihadis. "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul," Captain Bush praised his new friend Darth Putin. Perhaps the zenith of this farcical replay of the wartime Roosevelt-Stalin alliance was Bush presiding over the Red Square military parade in Moscow the following May as Darth's guest of "special importance", celebrating the victory over Nazi Germany, where the leaders signed a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty and agreed to a broad cooperative agenda. The Alliance against the Evil Empires -- old and new -- was in good hands.

A new, leaner, meaner Russia is picking up the Soviet torch. Watch for the fireworks, predicts Eric Walberg

28/6/7 -- It's official. As the US proceeds with its new world order in the Middle East, the world at large and even space, Russia, resurgent with its oil revenues and booming economy is again taking on the G8 coterie on all fronts. No apologies and no looking back.

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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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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here