TODAY: The return of President Putin? Medvedev’s state-of-the-nation address seen as a welcoming threat to Barack Obama; Poland certain US will go ahead with missile defense, Russia set to retaliate; EU to push for partnership talks to resume next week; Human Rights Watch condemns Georgia. Is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin planning to return to the presidency in 2009? It might explain Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal to extend the presidential term. Opposition party the United Civil Front sees the intention as ‘criminal’. Putin is scheduled to speak at the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos next January. Are Dmitry Medvedev’s (‘largely rhetorical’) hopes that the US will resume ‘fully-fledged relations with Russia’ too high? Medvedev may not have mentioned Barack Obama in his state-of-the-nation address directly yesterday, but this article suggests that Russia’s population are hopeful about the US election results. ‘Obama is good news for Russia. He will get America out of Iraq, improve relations, and end the cold war with our country.’ But Medvedev himself has ‘reawakened Cold War memories’ with his promise to station missiles in Kaliningrad, and Poland fully expects the US to continue with its own missile defense plan. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, offers a contradictory message whilst keeping his eye on missiles being stationed in Asia: ‘It is mandatory to do away with confrontational attitudes.’ Read the Moscow Times on some further contradictions in Medvedev’s address.
The Russian elite ‘frequently fail to realize that Washington does not consider the relationship with Moscow to be a top priority’, and ‘demonstrative anti-Americanism has become something of an official creed’ for the Kremlin, suggests The Moscow Times. Despite objections from Poland and Lithuania, the European Commission will push to resume EU-Russia partnership talks next week.New research by Human Rights Watch condemns Georgia’s use of cluster bombs and technically inadequate weapons during the war with Russia.PHOTO: Russia’s Prime minister Vladimir Putin, Speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament Boris Gryzlov (L) and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov arrive for President Dmitry Medvedev’s annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow, November 5, 2008. (Alexander Natruskin/Reuters)