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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 18, 2009

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TODAY: US missile defense in Eastern Europe plans officially scrapped in favor of ‘more efficient’ new program.  A matter of concession or conviction on Obama’s part?  Mixed reaction from former would-be host countries fearful of Russian dominance; is the US expecting Russian cooperation in Iran in return wonders media – and will it get it?  NATO to have increased involvement in new plans. Georgia and Russia to negotiate.  Gapzrom may get its tower.

The US plans to build missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic have been binned; the Moscow Times reprints President Obama’s speech on the decision here.  ‘This is not about Russia,  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said.  According to the Independent, Obama was quick to suggest it was not a concessionary move, pointing out that the Kremlin’s ‘concerns about our previous missile defense programs were entirely unfounded’.  President Medvedev has praised Obama’s ‘responsible approach’ whilst Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin has warned against ‘childish euphoria’.  The Foreign Ministry has denied that the plan was scrapped as part of a deal in exchange for certain Russian concessions.  But will Obama be waiting for something from Russia in return, such as pressure on Iran? asks the Guardian.  ‘Washington has a meaty wish list’ points out the Telegraph‘Rewarding bad Russian behavior is likely only to produce more Russian demands on this and other issues’, argues David J Kramer in the Washington Post.  Russia ‘may instead press for further gains perceiving a weakened US adds Reuters.  Shortly before Obama’s statement, Sergei Lavrov reiterated that there would be no sactions on Iran.  The Times has predictions of the possible outcomes of the move described as a ‘US gamble’, betting on Russia’s generous side.


Is there disappointment in Poland and the Czech Republic who still feel a security threat from Moscow? wonders the Independent.  Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has sought ‘reassurances’ regarding theU.S. commitment to the nation’s security following the decision.  NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the new U.S. strategy would involve NATO to a much greater extent than before. 

The Economist on Medvedev’s recent litany of complaints about Russia highlights how little the President has succeeded in overcoming the very problems he bemoans.  Another article suggests that between Medvedev’s anaemic leadership and Putin’s electorate-pleasing vigor, there really is no competition.  Russia and Georgia have agreed to work towards an agreement on how to co-exist without recourse to military action although many obstacles to negotiations apparently remain.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko says that the Polish resolution to call Russia’s actions in Poland in 1939 ‘genocide’ would ‘not benefit our bilateral relations’

A Moscow Art Nouveau building, an acknowledged object of cultural heritage’  reportedly used to illegally lodge immigrant workers, has been badly damaged by a mysterious fire.  St. Petersburg may change municipal laws to allow Gazprom to build its controversial 400-meter skyscraper.

PHOTO:  President Barack Obama pauses in the East Room of the White House inWashington, September 17, 2009, during a ceremony where heawarded Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti from Raynham, Mass. theMedal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/CharlesDharapak)