TODAY: Medvedev signs treaties with former Georgian territories, US struggles to respond; economy in trouble but Russia is a serious power on the world stage; relations with Latin America slowly strengthening; visa requirements with Israel scrapped; vodka smuggling. Russia has sealed its diplomatic ties with Georgia’s breakaway regions by signing friendship treaties that pledge military assistance. In response, the US is preparing ‘stinging language’, with Secretary of State and Russia-expert Condoleezza Rice set to call into question the legitimacy of Russia’s goal to rebuild itself. The Ukrainian government is under pressure to join Russia in recognizing the former Georgian regions’ independence. South Ossetia was fiercely pro-Russia long before the outbreak of war, but ‘no one really paid attention,’ says the BBC. Despite the dire state of the MICEX, Russia’s increasing global power and influence on the UN’s actions is shifting the world balance.
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin is in Caracas with a view to expanding defense cooperation with Venezuela, and President Hugo Chavez will travel to Russia next week in a demonstration of increasingly friendly ties. Russia has also offered aid to Nicaragua and reportedly is in talks about building a space station in Cuba. Israel and Russia are due to cancel mutual visa requirements for travelers this weekend.On the dangers of vodka-smuggling in the former Soviet states.PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and Eduard Kokoity, the leader of South Ossetia smile after the signing ceremony in Moscow September 17, 2008. (RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters)