RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 22, 2008

blast022208.jpgTODAY: Russia’s envoy lashes out at West over Kosovo, protests shall proceed despite ban, Tymoshenko talks gas with Putin, and the world reacts to the U.S. shooting down a satellite. After Serbian nationalists set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Russia has reacted to the street violence. Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin told ITAR-TASS: “If the EU works out a single position or if NATO steps beyond its mandate in Kosovo, these organizations will be in conflict with the U.N., and then I think we will also begin operating under the assumption that in order to be respected, one needs to use force. And we, I think, will proceed from an assumption that to be respected, we have to use brute military force.” A rep from the Foreign Ministry explained the street violence in Serbia as such: “What happened in Belgrade yesterday is regrettable. But we would want to draw your attention to the fact that the forces that supported the unilateral recognition of Kosovo’s independence should have realized the effects of the move.

Other Russia plans to march in opposition of the rigged elections despite a ban on the protest – and some are expecting violence: “If we are baton-charged it will mean all his (Medvedev’s) talk about democracy is only for outside use, not our streets,” said Andrei Dmitriev of the National Bolshevik Party.The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, had an unusually fruitful visit to Moscow yesterday, securing a new agreement with Gazprom, creating a free trade zone, and continuing to build on her popularity in case the Rada is dissolved and early elections are called. However, details of the new energy arrangement remain unclear.Following the shooting down of a satellite, both Russia and China have accused the United States of militarizing space in a provocative action. Many sources validate this view: “I don’t see how other nations don’t see this as an anti-satellite test,” said Theresa Hitchens, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Defense Information, a centrist national security policy institute. “They’ll see it as the weaponization of space.” Others disagree, and defend the U.S. for their transparency in the process. A WSJ editorial argues “But the technology on display here is important, among other reasons, because of Chinese and Russian actions. The U.S. has missile-defense systems in place in Japan, for example, to counter North Korea — a dictatorship that wouldn’t exist were it not for Beijing’s help. Russia and China are friendly with Iran, which is rapidly developing long-range missile capabilities. If anything, the U.S. needs to spend more on such technology.PHOTO: Serbian nationalists opposed to Kosovo’s independence storm the United States embassy in Belgrade on February 21. The violence has prompted angry US and UN protests, although Russia argued the violence was understandable.(AFP)