RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 15, 2009

capt.f11ddde69049460e9110cead459280a5.russia_state_awards_mosb106.jpgTODAY: ‘Milk war’ steps up a notch; Lukashenko absent from security summit in Moscow; rapid reaction force agreed upon at CSTO meeting; Kremlin hopes for larger role in Afghanistan resolution; third killing in North Caucasus in week of violence; US says WTO bid for three needs to be examined

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has vexed President Medvedev by boycotting a meeting of the CSTO, the post-Soviet security bloc, without personally informing him.  Tensions have been high recently due to trade disagreements on dairy products.  Russia has emphasized that the milk import ban is a technical matter and has been over-politicized by Belarus.  Belarussian experts will arrive in Moscow today to continue discussions over the issue, which it hopes will be settled within a week.  At the security summit an agreement was made on the creation of a joint rapid-reaction force, without Belarus as a signatory, although Minsk has stressed that no summit decisions would be valid without its involvement.

The UN has agreed on unprecedented sanctions against North Korea, prohibiting all weapons export from the country, which Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has called ‘an appropriate response’.  According to Ria-Novosti, Russia has noticed a reduction in activity in the country’s nuclear facility, which could indicate either completion of preparations for a test or a pause.  The New York Times analyzes the reasons for the new warmth in Israeli-Russian relations.

Russia has welcomed ‘increasingly transparent’ relations with Washington over Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Russia has asserted it hopes to increase its role in resolving the conflict in Afghanistan at an upcoming regional security summit that may include talks with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The US has spoken of its ‘surprise’ regarding Russia’s decision to abandon its unilateral bid to enter the WTO, commenting, ‘we still strongly support WTO accession for all three countries but are examining the implications of this unexpected move’.  The tri-state customs union should be completed by the middle of 2011.

In an interview with Chinese TV, President Medvedev has said that his partnership with Vladimir Putin works ‘effectively.  A former senior government minister in restive Ingushetia has been killed by gunmen.  Belgium has fired its ambassador to Russia after he breached regulations to attain visas for five female Thai dancers for billionaire Suleiman Kerimov.  ‘Not to see any more of my reporters killed’: the Guardian examines the personal dream of the editor of the Novaya Gazeta.

PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev enters the St. George hall for an awards ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 12, 2009.  (AP Photo/Sergei Chirikov, Pool)