Thursday, October 18, 2007

Putin Promises Arms Race

By Cernig

Spurred on by feelings of American encroachment on what they think of as their dooorstep - anti-missile bases in Eastern Europe and invasions on their Southern flank - and empowered by a wash of cash from energy resources, Russia has been looking to reclaim some of its old position in the world for some time now. Today, Vladimir Putin set out a vision of a newly powerful Russia which will attempt to rebuild its deterrent and defensive capabilities.
President Vladimir Putin claims Russia is working on new types of nuclear weapons as part of a "grandiose" plan to boost the country's defences.

In a televised question-and-answer session with Russian citizens ahead of elections in December, Mr Putin set out his agenda saying the experience of Iraq showed the need for resource-rich countries to keep strong defences.

He said: "We will develop missile technology including completely new strategic (nuclear) complexes, completely new. Work is continuing and continuing successfully."

"We have plans that are not only big, but grandiose, they are fully realistic. Our armed forces will be more compact but more effective and better ensure Russia defence."

"We will not only give attention to the whole nuclear triad strategic rocket forces, strategic aviation and the nuclear submarine fleet but also other types of weapons."

Mr Putin also told the US to set a date for withdrawing all its troops from Iraq and warned Washington against using force in Iran.

"Thank God Russia is not Iraq. It is strong enough to protect its interests within the national territory and, by the way, in other regions of the world.
That's as clear a warning as the U.S. is going to get that Russia no longer intends to be a pushover former-superpower.

The AP puts some context around Putin's statement that Russia is not Iraq:
Speaking during an annual televised question-and-answer session, Putin was asked by a mechanic from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk for his thoughts on comments made several years ago by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who suggested that Siberia had too many natural resources to belong to one country.

``I know that some politicians play with such ideas in their heads. This, in my view, is the sort of political erotica that might satisfy a person but hardly leads to a positive result,'' Putin responded.

``The best example of that are the events in Iraq - a small country that can hardly defend itself and which possesses huge oil reserves. And we see what's going on there. They've learned to shoot there but they are not managing to bring order.

``One can wipe off a political map some tyrannical regime ... but it's absolutely pointless to fight with a people,'' he said. ``Russia, thank God, isn't Iraq. It has enough strength and power to defend itself and its interests, both on its territory and in other parts of the world.''
The Russians think Iraq was mostly about oil, that American lust for resources won't halt there and that said lust is a bipartisan affair.

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