Monday, September 03, 2007

The Red Line

By Cernig

Russia continues to guard its own national interest - as every nation does - while saying it is simply trying to counterbalance the American giant:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says U.S. missile defense and Kosovo are two "red-line" issues where the Kremlin will not agree to compromise.

Speaking at the first day of classes at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), Lavrov said Russia's foreign partners "must realize" that Moscow "is not trying to bargain."

He told potential future policymakers that global security depends first and foremost on balance. And Russia, Lavrov stressed, was prepared to continue what he called its "balancing role" in world affairs.

"There's only one formula for balance in international affairs, and that is peaceful coexistence, reliance on international law, collective security, and the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts," Lavrov said.

"These basic principles are founded in the UN Charter," he added. "Russia will continue to play a balancing role in global affairs. It will never be party to any new Holy Alliance against anyone."

Part of Russia's balancing role, Lavrov said, is its refusal to cross the "red line" on two key issues -- U.S. missile defense and Kosovo.

Russia and its ally Serbia oppose a UN plan to give Kosovo a form of supervised independence from Belgrade.

Moscow has also strongly objected to U.S. plans to host parts of a missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the plans are a threat to its security.
Russia's doing a lot of outreach in the way of "talking about talking" right now. Not just to Europe and America, but to India, China, groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The common thread appears to be an attempt to contrast Russian willingness to use international diplomacy, from the UN on down, with the Bush administration's "we don't talk to folks we have a problem with" attitude. It's cynical, and it is to a large measure a smokescreen for Russian bullheadedness - but it plays well simply because of the seeming reversal of traditional roles between Russia and the U.S. that the Bush administration's "tough guy" act has created.

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