TODAY: Kremlin continues to ignore Bush administration, Medvedev optimistic on relations under Obama; US to support Ukraine’s NATO bid at meeting; Russia wants EU inquiry into OSCE accounts of outbreak of war in Georgia; population to drop by 34 million by 2050. The Kremlin is continuing to reject proposals from the US Bush administration on its planned missile defense shield, insisting that it will try to resolve the dispute once Barack Obama takes office. In a televised interview, Dmitry Medvedev announced that he had high hopes for US-Russia relations under President-elect Obama, and reiterated his statement that Russia would abandon plans to deploy missiles near the Polish border if the US abandoned its own missile defense plans in the region. The Pentagon General in charge of missile defense is anxious that the US keep to its plan. Meanwhile US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is planning to show support for Ukrainian membership at today’s NATO meeting. Despite his insistence that NATO expansion is not a threat to Russia, US support for Ukraine is likely to further sour relations.
In response to a Russian request for an inquiry into OCSE monitor accounts of the August 7th bombing of Tshkinvali which suggest that Georgia was the first to attack, the Finnish foreign minister said he would cooperate, but insisted that the OCSE ‘is not an intelligence service’. Dmitry Medvedev has begun his four day trip to Europe and US, for the EU-Russia and G20 summits. Russia’s ambassador to the EU is not expecting this week’s EU-Russia talks to mend relations overnight.A UN report indicates that Russia’s population will suffer a 34 million drop by 2050, at a rate of 0.5% per year. The photographer who took the 2007 Time cover portrait of Vladimir Putin writes a dramatic account of their meeting. Putin backs the extension of the term for Russia’s next president, ‘but said it was too early to say who that might be.’PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev holds vacuum packed potatoes as he visits a vegetable production company in the village of Bunyatino, outside Moscow, November 12, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Astakhov Dmitry (RUSSIA)