RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 11, 2009

capt.457a7f0119d046d68af46624664c0937.russia_putin_mosb128.jpgTODAY: Putin says Russia could drop nuclear weapons if others do so; military chief recommends maintaining 1500 warheads; Arctic envoy assures that competition over region not a military matter; Hollywood actor’s new role as Siberian traffic cop

Vladimir Putin has declared at a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that if other countries renounced their nuclear stockpiles, Russia would be willing to do the same.  The German Foreign Minister urged Russia to be ‘constructive’ in its talks on weapon reductions with Barack Obama.  In the matter of nuclear reduction or missile defense ‘unilateral steps are not expected from either the Russian Federation or the United States’, says Sergei Lavrov.  Meanwhile a top Russian general, Nikolai Solovtsov, has said that in the new deal offensive weapons in space must be prohibited, but 1,500 nuclear warheads should be maintained.  Solovtsov remains realistic: ‘in any case the issue will be decided by the political leadership’. 

The New York Times reports that Russia will rebuild its polar stations and use its ice breaker fleet to establish a presence in the Arctic region.  According to the Moscow Times, the Kremlin’s envoy to the Arctic, Artur Chilingarov, has downplayed the possibility of using military force to gain control over the area. 

The Kremlin asserts that, contrary to some reports, ‘the Russian delegation has not rejected any draftsof a North Korean resolution, and will ‘continue to take the most active part in the work.’  A draft UN resolution has been submitted to extend the authority of UN observers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to ‘first and foremost monitor the compliance of Russia’ in the cease fire agreement.  Israel has reportedly reduced sales of arms to Georgia under Russian pressure.

President Medvedev has said that governors who do not cope with the problems of wage arrears and unemployment will face dismissal.  The New York Times reports upon Patriarch Kirill’s success at the helm of the Orthodox Church, through the use of charisma and coercion.  Billionaire Vyacheslav Kantor is set to display some works from his collection of leading 20th century artists including Marc Chagall and Mark Rothko.  Cardboard cutouts of Brad Pitt dressed as a traffic cop have been placed at the most dangerous roads in Omsk in a campaign to discourage speeding.  Apparently drivers are somewhat ‘arrested’ by his presence. 

PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks with famous Russian artist Ilya Glazunov at his gallery in Moscow, Russia, June 10, 2009. Vladimir Putin visited the gallery and congratulated Ilya Glazunov on his 79th birthday.  (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)