RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 10, 2008

100308.jpgTODAY: EU report warns of conflict with Russia over energy resources; Putin warns that Western relations with Russia will be no easier under Medvedev. The next president is already the subject of popular Russian jokes – Kasparov says power sharing will lead to disaster. Russia to abolish visas for Serbia. A report from the EU’s top two foreign policy officials to the heads of government gathering in Brussels this week says European governments should plan for an era of conflict over energy resources, with global warming likely to trigger a contest between Russia and the west for the mineral riches of the Arctic. “Although Medvedev has been elected president, still all the levers of power — including the people in the upper echelons of power — are the people whom Putin has chosen for the top positions.” Medvedev is “already the brunt of jokes” in Russia about power sharing. Opposition leader Garry Kasparov says that future crises in Russia will divide Medvedev from Putin. “Trying to keep power in two spots, one in Kremlin, one in the Russian white house where the prime minister is located, will eventually fail,” he said. “I don’t think that 2008 and 2009 will be good years.” The widow of Alexander Litvinenko has made a public appeal to Medvedev to extradite Andrei Lugovoi to face trial.

Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend to discuss a range of issues. There was reportedly some friction over the recent Russian elections, “but with trade ties worth $50bn (£25bn) and a gas pipeline project, the two countries know they have to co-operate”. After the meeting, Merkel said “I think there will be continuity. I do not think that the controversies will just disappear.” And Putin warned that relations between Russia and the West would not be any easier under Dmitry Medvedev’s rule. He also accused NATO of trying to build itself into a substitute for the UN.The Polish government is arguing with the US that it needs security backing because Russia has threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles if it should allow the US to base missile defense interceptors on Polish soil. Russia’s foreign and defense ministers are heading to Paris today to meet with their French counterparts for bilateral security negotiations.Russia is undertaking procedures to allow for a state agreement on the abolishment of visas with Serbia, to ease conditions for entry. The news comes as Serbia’s prime minister announces his resignation over Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The Russian Federation will grant 285 scholarships for Vietnamese students.PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is presented with flowers by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev on arrival for talks in Moscow March 8, 2008. REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler/Handout (RUSSIA)