August 25, 2011
Iran has filed a lawsuit against Russia at the International Court of Justice over Moscow's refusal to ship S-300 air defense systems to Tehran. Iran and Russia signed the S-300 contract in 2007. In September 2010 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree banning the shipments to Iran of the weapons and equipment in accordance to U.N.  resolution 1929 adopted on  June 9, 2010.



 To Russia for Love

That is where a lot of Islamists go these days to find some much needed love. Thank God there are still places in the world where love can be bought or bartered. The Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin is doing his utmost , short of wearing a suicide belt, to make good with the Islamic countries and terrorist organizations. He has warmly greeted Hamas and it's leader in exile Khaled Meshal who is currently staying in Syria as a guest of another of Mr. Putin's good friends Bashar Al-Asad.

And why not. The Soviet Union had a great relationship with Yasser Arafat and Bashar's father Hafiz Al-Asad. This is a logical continuation of a  great tradition of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples.

Vladimir Putin. (PD)Then there are their new best friends, the Iranians. Russia is building them a brand new nuclear reactor in Bushier. Mr. Putin and his Kremlin team feel that Iran is their new strategic partner to counterbalance the Americans and the Europeans who preach so much about democracy, human rights and really get ticked off when he turns off the gas pipelines in order to teach a lesson to the ungrateful former Soviet republics and former East Europian allies.

Speaking of the former Soviet Republics, Russia has a really difficult time getting used to the fact that parts of the former Soviet empire are now independent counties. Russians are blatantly supporting the secession of the province of the Abkhazia from the independent Republic of Georgia. The Russians must really have it in for the Georgians as they support the secession of another Georgian province, South Ossetia. In addition, the Kremlin completely cut off Georgian imports into Russia putting an economic pressure on already poor country.

He did the same to the republic of Moldova who has a tiny sliver of land called Pridnestrovie that Russia is trying to pry from them. Russia is also heavily involved in Ukrainian politics trying to turn back the tide of democracy that swept that country during the Orange Revolution in 2004.   When asked about the problems with the Georgian breakaway provinces Putin, with a straight face, said that's what the people of those provinces want, their independence.

Now that we know how much Mr. Putin cares about peoples' rights for self-determination it would be oddly difficult to explain the way the Russians handled the self-determination of the Chechens. Why is it OK for the Abkhazians, the South Ocetians, and the Palestinians for that matter, to have their own country, as Mr. Putin advocates, and not for the Chechens?  

Putin is harshly critical of the way Israel conducts it's military operations against terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas but yet in the two wars that Russians conducted against the Chechen separatists they completely destroyed the capital city Grozny and made refugees out of hundreds of thousands of people many of whom were forced to live in the mountains during the coldest months of the winter. Some of them survived the bombardment of the Russian artillery only to succumb to the cold, disease and starvation. The situation in Grozny was so bad that hungry dogs were openly feeding on the human corpses.  

Today the Russians have their own militia in Chechnya with their own Chechen warlord named Ramzan Kadirov. Many locals are afraid of him as much as they are of the separatists, who themselves committed some of the worst atrocities that human beings are capable off, including the massacre of hundreds of children in Beslan. There are no good guys there.

In the meantime Mr. Kadirov must be doing something right as his overlords in the Kremlin named a Moscow street after him. Ramzan, who is only in his early thirties, clearly is getting a lot of love from President Putin.   In the last few years under the leadership of Vladimir Putin Russia made a sharp turn away from a close relationship with U.S. and Europe in favor of countries like China, Iran, Syria and, most recently, Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez is a new 'Fidel' with oil. You know he is a getting a lot of love from the Kremlin when Russia agreed to sell him almost a billion dollars worth of military planes and attack helicopters. Mr. Chavez also declared "maybe some day we will start using nuclear technology". And why not? Russia is already doing it for Hugo's pal Mahmoud Ahmdinijad. What are the similarities between all these countries? They all are enemies of the United States.  

While Mr. Putin is flexing his muscles against his weak neighbors to the west and to the south and trying to chop off tiny pieces of land that never belonged to Russia, their other strategic partners, the Chinese, are salivating in anticipation of populating the enormous Russian territories to the far east. While Mr. Putin nickels and dimes his way in Georgia and Moldova, hundreds of thousands of Chinese illegal immigrants are flooding into Siberia.  

China is the most populous country in the world. Russia is the largest country in the world territorially. Yet Russia's demographic situation is nothing short of catastrophic as it's population actually declines every year by hundreds of thousands due to the low birth rates, poor healthcare and emigration. If this trend continues, within the next 30-40 years China will have physical possession of the good chunk of Russian Far East without firing a single shot.

Yet the Russians are selling the most advanced military technology to China without a second thought about potential future consequences. China is not a friend of Russia and will not be for as long as they have an appetite for Russian land.   In a few years Iran will join the growing ranks of the nuclear countries. Does Russia really need another superpower in the neighborhood whose ambitions are to export militant Islam throughout the region? How can arming a Muslim fundamentalist regime, like Iran, with nuclear bomb be beneficial for predominantly Christian Russia fighting a war against a Muslim separatists on its southern border?  

Russia will pay dearly for the greed and stupidity of their leaders when Iran finally gets their hands on nukes and becomes a menace of the Middle East. History teaches us that best of friends have a way of becoming worst of enemies when their interests collide. And the interests of Russia and the Iranians are not very conducive for a long lasting friendship. Russia's interests lie in influencing and controlling the predominantly Muslim ex-Soviet republics sitting on it's southern border. Iranians have the same ambitions, and come to think about it, so do the Chinese.

Yet the Russians are arming their future enemies as long as they get paid and stick it to the U.S. at the same time.   Mr. Putin is taking some steps back in order to move forward. He is emulating the politics of the now-extinct Soviet Union and aligning Russia with countries that are adversarial to the West and its democratic values. In his distorted view of the world he does not see that neither U.S. nor Europe represent the mortal danger to his country that his current "friends" do. He has problems with the West because belonging to the civilized world has some rules that you need to follow, like respecting human rights, allowing freedom of the press and such.

But if Putin does that he will lose the iron grip on power he worked so hard to acquire. Iran and China do not ask for anything like that because they themselves are the worst offenders.   Today's Russia itself is closer to be being a dictatorship then a democracy. The Duma, the Russian Parliament, has become Putin's lapdog waiting with an open mouth for the treat from the president. All the independent TV stations were confiscated from the previous owners and currently are serving the interests, you guessed it, of Mr. Putin.

The leaders of the opposition parties are ether jailed or beaten down to the point where they no no longer are capable of challenging the president in any meaningful way. Russia again has become a state where people feel unsafe about expressing their opinions.   On October 7th, 2006 a prominent Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was assassinated. For years she has reported about the Russian atrocities in Chechnya and was not afraid to be critical of president on the number of other issues. After being silent for three days Mr. Putin provided the following gem: "Anna Politkovskaya's capacity to influence olitical life in Russia was very insignificant".  

He was not even a little bit ashamed about the political killings taking place on his watch. This was a third killing of a public figure in the span of one month. Just couple of weeks earlier the top deputy chairman of Russia's Central Bank, Andrei Kozlov died after being shot by unidentified assailants in an attack that officials suggested was prompted by his efforts to clean up the country's banking system. It was followed by the murder of the business chief of the news agency Itar-Tass.

Political assassinations in Russia are quite common but the Russian authorities are very rarely successful in finding the culprits. The fact that Ms. Politkovskaya was an "insignificant" figure makes the chances of finding her killers very slim.   But journalists and bankers are not the only ones getting killed in today's Russia. The number of murders motivated by ethnic and religious hatred have risen dramatically in the last few years.

These attacks are often directed at the immigrants from the former Soviet Republics, who come to Russia from the Caucasus and Central Asia, and foreign students from the third world countries. The attackers are primarily the nationalists and pro-fascist groups that are in abundance in present day Russia. These groups in many instances are encouraged and supported by the local authorities. Fascism in Russia is a stunning development for a country that lost millions of people in a war against Nazi Germany.

But whipping up the frenzy of nationalism against foreigners keeps Mr. Putin's ratings up.   Russia's role as a major player in today's global affairs is somewhat exaggerated. Yes, Mr. Putin is feeling good these days because the price of oil is at all-time high and Russia has a lot of oil and gas to sell. But all it does is make him a petro state with lots of nukes. His reckless business deals with enemies of the West bring him more in line with leaders like Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmedinijad then the serious statesman he likes to portray himself to be.

The best he can do is to vote against the U.S. in the United Nations or invite Hamas to the Kremlin and impress them with its chandeliers. That makes him a spoiler who has no ideas of its own and keeps repeating the word "niet" (which means "no) in the best tradition of Andrei Gromyko, the infamous Soviet Foreign Minister from the days of the cold war.  

The worst he can do is help Iran become a nuclear power and make the world a very dangerous place to live in. That does not make him a major player, that makes him highly irresponsible. The billion dollars that Iran is paying the Russians for their expertise will soon disappear into the deep pockets of the Kremlin's Mafiosi bureaucrats. They will probably buy themselves another villa in Spain and their wives will go on another buying binge in Paris while Russia's elderly and poor can barely feed themselves and while the Russian soldiers are forced to beg on the streets just to survive.  

The history of Russia's rulers is full of characters who neglected the interests and the well being of their people. It did not make a difference who was in power the tsars or the communists. For them the Russian people were always a hoard of sheep who can be easily manipulated if you know which buttons to push. The problem is that regular people are also as easily discarded, like sheep, when no longer needed. Mr. Putin and his team seem to be proudly carrying on this fine tradition. The only question is for how long!