RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 29, 2009


TODAY: Russia and NATO hold first military talks since Georgia incursion; differences remain; OSCE skeptical about security proposals; issues emerge for imminent Obama visit; the Romanovs return

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said that Russia and NATO have resumed cooperation on broad security threats, but ‘on Georgia, there are still fundamental differences.  Fears of an incursion in Georgia are building as Russia begins its Caucasus 2009 war games.  According to the Washington Post, the military exercises are ‘a reminder of the volatility of the region’.  Russia’s attitude to Georgia has been met with sharp criticism from Western leaders.  At a ministerial meeting of the OSCE, opinion was unconvinced about Moscow’s proposal for a new security pact; French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner commented, ‘we don’t need a new structure. We have the principles, we have the structures, let’s strengthen them’.

The Federal Drug Control Agency has said that the problem of drug traffickingin Afghanistan needs to be addressed if transportation of US cargo is tocontinue.  In a move that has surprised the US military, a high-rankingRussian general has announced that Russia and the United States willsign a military cooperation deal during the visit of the US President to Moscow.   Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, has met with his Russian counterpart, General NikolaiMakarov, in Moscow and has called the meeting ‘encouraging’.   The two nations are expected to discuss cyber warfare duringObama’s visit, though their ideas about how to combat the issue differ considerably.  The Guardian examines Medvedev’s visit to Africa as a sign of his ‘policy of disengagement with the West’.   

Members of the Romanov royal family intend to return to Russia to help develop charitable programs, but will no longer ‘peddle’ the idea of the monarchy.  The Russian government has told American judges that they do not have the authority to dictate to Russia how to use sacred Jewish documents held in its state library that were seized by the Nazi and Soviet armies.  Police detained at least 16 supporters of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Moscow following an unauthorized rally.  Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is ready to testify at the embezzlement trial of the Yukos founder.

PHOTO: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov isseen on a TV screen at a press conference on the Ionian island ofCorfu, northwestern Greece, on June 27, 2009, during a NATO-RussiaCouncil.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)