Monday, June 11, 2007

Vlad does stand-up

I've just been reading through the transcript of a press conference given by Vladmir Putin last week as part of the G8 conference. No doubt what Putin had to say was extensively covered by the UK's press. It's just that I haven't found the coverage yet

It's a long slab of text but worth skimming through as it covers an awfully large number of hot button topics that are currently being covered by the English-speaking media in a distinctly 'unipolar' way. It's always nice to hear what people have to say for themselves, first hand without prior filtration by hard-working, objective and completely independent professional journalists.

Personal favourite highlights from Putin's conference include (my super-favourite bits in italics)...

On Russia being ringed by US missile bases

We have not just stated that we are ready to comply with the treaty, like certain others have done. We really are implementing it: we have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals. We have reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the ACAF. But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned...

Again I would not want you to suffer from the illusion that we have fallen out of love with anyone. But I sometimes think to myself: why are they doing all this? Why are our American partners trying so obstinately to deploy a missile defence system in Europe when — and this is perfectly obvious — it is not needed to defend against Iranian or — even more obvious — North Korean missiles? (We all know where North Korea is and the kind of range these missiles would need to have to be able to reach Europe.) So it is clearly not against them and it is clearly not against us because it is obvious to everyone that Russia is not preparing to attack anybody. Then why? Is it perhaps to ensure that we carry out these retaliatory measures? And to prevent a further rapprochement between Russian and Europe? If this is the case (and I am not claiming so, but it is a possibility), then I believe that this would be yet another mistake because that is not the way to improve international peace and security...

And I am also against an arms race. I am opposed to any kind of arms race but I would like to quickly draw your attention to something I said in last year’s Address [to the Federal Assembly]. We have learned from the Soviet Union’s experience and we will not be drawn into an arms race that anyone imposes on us. We will not respond symmetrically, we will respond with other methods and means that are no less effective. This is called an asymmetrical response. The United States are building a huge and costly missile defence system which will cost dozens and dozens of billions of dollars. We said: “no, we are not going to be pulled into this race. We will construct systems that will be much cheaper yet effective enough to overcome the missile defence system and therefore maintain the balance of power in the world.” And we are going to proceed this way in the future.

On BP and Shell being cheated out of making billions from dodgy, African-style agreements made with criminals

Did you like what was written? You know, that is a colonial treaty that has absolutely nothing to do with the interests of the Russian Federation. I can only regret that in the early 1990s the Russian officials allowed such incidents to take place, incidents for which they should have been put in prison. Implementing this treaty resulted in a situation in which, for a long period of time, Russia allowed its natural resources to be exploited and received nothing in return. Almost nothing at all. But if our partners had been fulfilling their obligations correctly then we certainly would have had no chance to rectify the situation. But they are guilty of violating environmental laws and this is a generally accepted fact that is supported with objective data. And I must say that our partners do not even deny it. Environmental experts have corroborated this evidence. Incidentally, Gazprom has received various proposals from its partners to join the project even earlier, before any environmental scandal, but refused to do so. But after the environmental problems arose and there was the threat of fines, I believe that Gazprom’s entry quite simply saved the project.

On the Litvinenko murder investigation

And now about the request itself. I have very mixed feelings about this request. If the people who sent this request did not know that the Russian Constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens to foreign countries then their level of competency must certainly be questioned. In general the heads of such high-ranking law enforcement agencies should know this. And if they do not know this then their place is not in law enforcement agencies but somewhere else. In parliament, for example, or in journalism. But on the other hand, if they did know this but made the request anyways, then it is just a publicity stunt. In other words, you can look at the problem from any way but in all cases you see stupidity. I do not see any positive aspects to what was done. If they did not know then they are incompetent and we have doubts about what they have been doing there. And if they did know and did it anyway then that is pure politics. Both options are bad.

One last point. I think that after the British government allowed a significant number of criminals, thieves and terrorists to gather in Britain they created an environment which endangers the lives and health of British citizens. And all responsibility for this lies with the British side.

(and I don't think Vlad was talking about Muslim jihadists)

On why the International Debt-based Banking System is such a big fan of Putin's Russia

We had enormous debts, simply catastrophic for our economy, but we have paid them off in full now. Not only have we paid our debts, but we now have the best foreign debt to GDP ratio in Europe. Our gold and currency reserve figures are well known: in 2000, they stood at just $12 billion and we had a debt of more than 100 percent of GDP, but now we have the third-biggest gold and currency reserves in the world and they increased by $90 billion over the first four months of this year alone.

And to cap it all he managed to work a joke in at the expense of a German correspondent at the end...

GLOBE AND MAIL: If NATO had advantages in terms of missile defence, it could perhaps be of use? The U.S. is taking unilateral action, but if NATO were to get involved instead it would not look like an imperialist step. Everything might look different if NATO or Russia were to become involved in these missile defence plans.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: If NATO were involved this would not fundamentally change anything because we know how decisions are made in NATO. They were made in the same way in the Warsaw Pact. There was a joke in East Germany: How can you tell which of the telephones on Honecker’s desk is the direct line to Moscow? Do you know this joke?


VLADIMIR PUTIN: The answer is: it’s the one with only a receiver and no mouthpiece. (Laughter).

"Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week..."

Like I said at the top of this post, I'm sure what Putin had to say was extensively covered and analysed in the British press, I just have to find it...


1 comment:

Apprentice said...

Fantastic Stef.

Your blog is marvellous these days. Should be 100% required coursework in all Journalism courses. p))