Wednesday 17th of April 2024

equanimity .....

equanimity .....

On the steps of the bombed-out Parliament building Thursday, down the street from a neighborhood in ruins, the black-suited maestro prepared to lead a concert he aptly called a requiem, or composition for the dead.

But before launching into Dmitri Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony, written at the height of World War II to stir patriotism in the Soviet Union, Valery Gergiev, conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, explained to the crowd of several hundred why he had come to South Ossetia, the breakaway Georgian territory whose capital is Tskhinvali. 

"We are here so that the world will know the truth," Gergiev, an ethnic Ossetian born in Moscow, said as men in camouflage uniforms waved Russian and South Ossetian flags. "We have to remember those who died the tragic death from Georgian aggression." 

An Orchestrated Russian Tour

Angry bear

Russia Adopts Blustery Tone Set by Envoy



MOSCOW — Here is one measure of the aggressive shift in Russian foreign policy in recent weeks: Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s representative to NATO, a finger-wagging nationalist who hung a poster of Stalin in his new ambassadorial office, is not sounding so extreme any more.

“There are two dates that have changed the world in recent years: Sept. 11, 2001, and Aug. 8, 2008,” Mr. Rogozin said in an interview, explaining that the West has not fully grasped how the Georgia conflict has heightened Russians’ fears about being surrounded by NATO. “They are basically identical in terms of significance.”

“Sept. 11 motivated the United States to behave really differently in the world,” he said. “That is to say, Americans realized that even in their homes, they could not feel safe. They had to protect their interests, outside the boundaries of the U.S. For Russia, it is the same thing.”

Only a few months ago, the blustery Mr. Rogozin, 44, was regarded even in the Kremlin as more performance artist than diplomat. Established officials sometimes rolled their eyes when he was mentioned, as if to acknowledge that Vladimir V. Putin, president at the time, had sent him to NATO to do a little trash-talking to rattle the West.

Yet Mr. Rogozin’s arrival at alliance headquarters in Brussels in January might be seen as an omen of the crisis to come. He quickly scorned what he called the “blah, blah, blah” diplomatic niceties and pounded away at a single theme: after years of affronts, Russia had had enough.

Its invasion of Georgia three weeks ago made that apparent, as did its decision on Tuesday to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway enclaves at the center of the hostilities. Now the rising stature of Mr. Rogozin, who called NATO criticism of Russia’s military action “bigoted and indecent,” underscores Russia’s new tone — one adopted by both Mr. Putin, now prime minister, and President Dmitri A. Medvedev.

Mr. Rogozin has become a prominent Russian voice even as he remains a provocative figure in Moscow who led a political party that espoused anti-immigrant appeals — including an ad showing dark-skinned immigrants throwing watermelon rinds on the ground — described by some opponents as racist.

After the Georgia conflict broke out, NATO said there would be no “business as usual” in relations with Russia, and Russia in turn suspended some military cooperation. The Kremlin refrained from canceling all ties, saying it would continue to provide assistance in Afghanistan. Still, Mr. Medvedev has assumed a tough stance.


See toons...

index fingered off.

Russia may cut off oil flow to the West

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 9:26pm BST 28/08/2008

Fears are mounting that Russia may restrict oil deliveries to Western Europe over coming days, in response to the threat of EU sanctions and Nato naval actions in the Black Sea.

Any such move would be a dramatic escalation of the Georgia crisis and play havoc with the oil markets.

Reports have begun to circulate in Moscow that Russian oil companies are under orders from the Kremlin to prepare for a supply cut to Germany and Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline. It is believed that executives from lead-producer LUKoil have been put on weekend alert.

"They have been told to be ready to cut off supplies as soon as Monday," claimed a high-level business source, speaking to The Daily Telegraph. Any move would be timed to coincide with an emergency EU summit in Brussels, where possible sanctions against Russia are on the agenda.


"Point at your enemy and your enemy will cut your finger off." Ancient Gustaphianan proverb. Thus I believe the Russians — should the West tries to be holier than thou and bring on sanctions (yet again against windmills) — will relish the rise in the price of oil resulting from the West induced situation. The Russians might sell less, but make more money out of it. Should the West refuse to pay at all, the west ends up with nothing... China would be more than happy to take the surplus Ruskie oil... Win-win... In the end, I believe the Ruskies want to be really friendly, but they don't want to be taken for fools — a behavioural belief that has plagued the West since the fall of the Berlin wall. The Russians in all this have been far more generous to the West than the West has been to them... So, why should we carry on hammering them into the ground or hem them in more and more with Nato and anti-missiles missiles?

violating the sovereignty of Pakistan

Pakistan troops 'repel US raid'

Pakistani troops have fired at two US helicopters forcing them back into Afghanistan, local Pakistani intelligence officials say.

The helicopters flew into the tribal North Waziristan region from Afghanistan's Khost province at around midnight, the reports say.

Last week Pakistani troops fired into the air to prevent US ground troops crossing the border further south.

The two countries held talks last week on anti-militant co-ordination.

The latest confrontation between US and Pakistani forces took place in North Waziristan's sparsely populated Ghulam Khan district, west of the main town in the region, Miranshah, local officials say.

A Pakistani military spokesman, Maj Murad Khan, said he had no information "on border violation by the American helicopters".

The US military in Afghanistan also said it had no information on the incident.

spin de-spinned

October 8, 2008 U.S. Inquiry Is Said to Conclude 30 Civilians Died in Afghan Raid By ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON — An investigation by the military has concluded that American airstrikes on Aug. 22 in a village in western Afghanistan killed far more civilians than American commanders there have acknowledged, according to two American military officials.

The military investigator’s report found that more than 30 civilians — not 5 to 7 as the military has long insisted — died in the airstrikes against a suspected Taliban compound in Azizabad.

The investigator, Brig. Gen. Michael W. Callan of the Air Force, concluded that many more civilians, including women and children, had been buried in the rubble than the military had asserted, one of the military officials said.

The airstrikes have been the focus of sharp tensions between the Afghan government, which has said that 90 civilians died in the raid, and the American military, under Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top American military commander in Afghanistan, which has repeatedly insisted that only a handful of civilians were killed.

keeping the US army busy...

October 23, 2008

Russia Backs Keeping U.S. Force in Iraq


BAGHDAD — With the prospects for agreement on a proposed American-Iraqi security pact in doubt, the idea of allowing United States-led troops to stay under a United Nations mandate resurfaced this week, and Russia’s foreign minister told reporters that his country would support such a plan.

There had been speculation that Russia might veto an extension of the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the foreign military presence in Iraq, in part because of frustration with American foreign policy in other parts of the world, notably support for the independence of Kosovo and the defense of Georgian claims to two breakaway enclaves.

“We’ll support Iraq’s request to the U.N. Security Council if the Iraqi government asks for the mandate of the current international military presence to be extended,” said Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported.

Mr. Lavrov spoke Monday as he traveled to New Delhi from Yerevan, Armenia. He said Russia was convinced that an immediate and complete pullout of international forces from Iraq was inadvisable, RIA Novosti said.

While the significance of Russia’s announcement is difficult to determine, it does remove one potential barrier to extending the resolution, which expires on Dec. 31. Whether the Iraqis would consider such a path is unclear, but with widening criticism of the proposed pact, at least it opens the way for another approach.

Meanwhile, the voices against the proposed agreement gathered strength as an influential Iraqi cleric living in Iran issued a fatwa condemning it.

An article published by Fars, the semiofficial Iranian news agency, reported that Ayatollah Kazim al-Hosseini al-Haeri, a cleric who is in the Iranian holy city of Qum, had called the proposed agreement “haram,” or forbidden, and said that approving it would be a “sin God won’t forgive.” The ayatollah once was a mentor for the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who also opposes the pact.

see toon at top...

on the case...

February 22, 2009

Poker-Faced, Russia Flaunts Its Afghan Card


MOSCOW — Russia last week marked the 20th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan with avowals from its leaders that they really, truly do not want the American military mission there to suffer the same humiliating fate.

In practice, though, it often seems that Russia cannot decide whether it hopes that America’s current venture in Afghanistan succeeds, collapses or just ends up in a lengthy slog that might be cause for furtive grins in the backrooms of the Kremlin.

These contradictory impulses were underscored this month when the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan announced that a crucial American military base that supplies forces in nearby Afghanistan would be closed — apparently at Moscow’s urging. At the same time, the Russians said they would let nonlethal cargo for the American-led NATO mission be transported across Russia.


Yourdemocracy site has been on this case for about 8 months... See toon at top. 


"US military could quickly end the war in afghanistan..."

Afghan officials have sought an official explanation from Donald Trump after the US President said he could wipe the country off the map and kill 10 million people.

Mr Trump said he just does not want to do so.

US forces have not been fighting against Afghanistan, rather alongside security forces and NATO partners against Taliban insurgents since 2001.

The comments came during a press briefing at the White House with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and have not only upset Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — a spokesman for the Taliban called them "irresponsible".

Here's why.

What did Mr Trump say?

Speaking ahead of a private meeting between the two leaders, Mr Trump said the US military could quickly end a war in Afghanistan. 

"If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people," he said.

"I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone," he said.

Mr Trump also referred to the use of the so-called "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan in April 2017, which was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever detonated, and said using more would be an "easy solution".

"They were going to make many of them. And I said, "No, we don't have to. I don't want to drop that. I don't want to do that'," Mr Trump said.

"So many easy solutions. That's actually the easy solution. And they'd come in and they'd say, 'Let's have peace.' But you don't have to do that."

Mr Khan is on his first official visit to Washington since taking office in August 2018.

During the press briefing, Mr Trump said he and Mr Khan would be discussing the US and Pakistan alliance and his hopes that the Prime Minister could help the US "extricate themselves" from the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.

The comments came in response to questions from reporters about the future of Afghanistan, where Mr Trump said the US was acting like "policemen" rather than fighting a conflict.

The US military entered Afghanistan in 2001 to dislodge the Taliban from power and to disrupt Al Qaeda after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The US President said his preference was for peaceful negotiations but warned that his country "could do a number the likes of which they've never seen before".


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