RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept 12, 2008

120908.jpgTODAY: Putin’s three-hour interview both “pugilistic and needy”; Medvedev focuses on military; confusion over South Ossetia’s aims; ongoing tension over Georgia affecting UN debates. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave a three-hour interview yesterday during which he “turned the air blue”, joking about his sharing of power with President Dmitry Medvedev, defending the invasion of Georgia and denying that the Kremlin has imperial visions. He also criticized the UK for providing refuge to Russian dissenters, and warned the West that the planned US missile defense shield would start an arms race. His tone alternated between “pugilistic and needy,” says the New York Times. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Poland to protest its planned US-backed missile defense base. Medvedev says that Russia is prepared to cooperate with the US in the fight against terrorism, and is talking about Russia’s need to modernize its military.

South Ossetia favors independence, says the breakaway region’s leader. But he also says that South Ossetia plans to join the Russian Federation. Oh no it doesn’t, says Lavrov. According to one Russian blogger’s analysis, Russian troops were on South Ossetian soil before Georgia began shelling Tskhinvali. Ongoing tension regarding the conflict, says one report, is affecting Russian input at the UN, particularly in relation to Iran and Myanmar. The conflict has destroyed almost 1,000 hectares of Georgian forest. Abkhazia, meanwhile, is trying to woo foreign investors.An unmanned Russian cargo ship has blasted off successfully carrying supplies for the international space station. Will the recent conflict in Georgia hurt the US space program, which depends on Russian launch vehicles?PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with a group of Western foreign policy experts in Sochi on Russia’s Black Sea coast, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)