RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept 5, 2008

TODAY: U.S. Dignitaries (McCain, Rice, Cheney) issue warnings Russia is deepening its international isolation and threatening U.S. security. Lavrov rejects Cheney’s attack on Russia. Russia accuses the United States of encouraging Georgian aggression. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to receive Liberty Medal in 2008 for his role in ending the Cold War. Russian aggression in Georgia hasn’t exactly been met with a charm offensive. At the Republican National Convention last night, U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain promised against a return to the days of the Cold War, however stating without doubt that Russia’s actions posed a direct threat to U.S. security. Using the “straight-talk express”, consisting of language that the Bush Administration has largely shied away from over the past eight years in relation to Russia, McCain declared that “we can’t turn a blind eye to aggression and international lawlessness that threatens the peace and stability of the world and the security of the American people.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Libya today, stated that Russia is deepening its international isolation after last month’s fighting in Georgia. “I am quite certain that Russia will understand that it’s deepening its isolation and that it will have no way out unless it honors its commitments and unless it begins to change its behavior,” Rice told reporters. “I’m also confident that the Russians are beginning to understand that there are costs to this kind of behavior.”Earlier today the Russian Foreign Minister rejected criticism by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that its intervention in Georgia raises doubts about Moscow’s reliability as an international partner. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov acknowledged the conflict may have isolated Moscow from the international community, but added that Russia would be ready to work with any U.S. administration on strategic issues like non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Lavrov reiterated that the responsibility for all of the violence belongs to Georgian President Saakashvili.Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko had earlier today stated that the United States was indeed encouraging Georgian aggression by supporting Tbilisi’s NATO membership bid. “The new promises to Tbilisi (made by U.S. Vice President Cheney) relating to the speedy membership of NATO simply strengthen the Saakashvili regime’s dangerous feeling of impunity and encourages its dangerous ambitions,” Nesterenko told reporters.Cheney had met Thursday with Saakashvili in Tbilisi and afterward sternly criticized Russian military actions as an invasion of sovereign territory and “an illegitimate unilateral attempt” to change Georgia’s borders by force. “Russia’s actions have cast grave doubt on Russia’s intentions and on its reliability as an international partner,” Cheney said. Mr. Cheney is in the Ukraine today, touring the region to shore up support for both Georgia and Azerbaijan, key links in an energy corridor bypassing Russia that transports around one percent of daily world crude oil output from the Caspian Sea.In a stunning coincidence to the media frenzy that has followed Russian aggression in Georgia and threatened international stability, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will this year receive the Liberty Medal in for his role in ending the Cold War.The Soviet Union’s last president will be awarded for “his courageous role in ending the dangerous, decades-long Cold War and in giving hope and freedom to millions who lived behind the Iron Curtain,” the the US National Constitution Center said.Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, will be presented with the Liberty Medal by former US President George H.W. Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center, in a ceremony Sep 18. The president of the National Constitution Center, Joseph Torsella, added that “awarding the Liberty Medal should not be construed as an endorsement by the center of President Gorbachev’s views on the Russia-Georgia conflict.” Gorbachev has blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway region of South Ossetia and criticized Western states for supporting Tbilisi.