Cold War Redux?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 22, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Cold War Redux?


Byline: John E. Carey, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Russia watchers and military analysts say some of Russia's recent military moves speak louder than the words of Russia's leaders. But the words of President Vladimir Putin and others at the top of the Russian hierarchy have sent an icy chill though relations between Russia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States.

In just the last week:

* Russia reinstituted long range bomber surveillance patrols of U.S. vital areas including the military installation at Guam and our aircraft carriers at sea. These are the first routine bomber patrols since the Cold War.

* Russia said it would again deploy naval forces to the Mediterranean. This also is a return to Cold War-style military deployments and operations. Russian Navy chief Adm. Vladimir Masorin said: "The Mediterranean is an important theater of operations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. We must restore a permanent presence of the Russian Navy in this region."

* Russia joined with China and several oil-rich Central Asian former Soviet Republics that are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to conduct war game maneuvers. For the first time ever, Russia hosted Chinese soldiers in peaceful yet provocative exercise on Russian soil. The U.S. Embassies in Moscow and Beijing said the U.S. had asked to take part but was told any U.S. participation or observers would not be welcome.

* Finally, President Putin from Russia and President Hu Jintao of China participated in a multinational meeting of the SCO that included nonmember luminaries such as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Ahmadinejad ranted against the proposed U.S. deployment of missile defenses to Poland and the Czech Republic, a deployment also criticized by China and Russia. China and Russia have blocked attempts by the United States, the United Kingdom and France to sanction Iran in the United Nations for its nuclear program.

"Diplomacy between Russia and the West is increasingly being overshadowed by military gestures," says Sergei Strokan, a foreign-policy expert with the independent daily Kommersant. "It's clear that the Kremlin is listening more and more to the generals and giving them more of what they want."

Said Mr. Putin at the SCO's largest-ever annual gathering of regional leaders: "Year by year, the SCO is becoming a more substantial factor in ensuring security in the region. Russia , like other SCO states, favors strengthening the multipolar international system providing equal security and development potential for all countries. Any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally have no future." Former Soviet members of the SCO include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

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