Friday, 4 April 2008

Press Summary from Former Soviet States

Ria Novosti carries summaries of news stories from a wide range of states of the Former Soviet Union. here is a flavour, they are all extremely concerned (indeed almost exclusively concerned) with Russia's influence in their region and NATO-Russia relations.


Commentators believe that participants in the Bucharest summit may concentrate on the Russian President. "For the first time, Putin promised to grace the summit with his presence... Everyone is waiting to see what he will do. He may wreck the summit." (Neatkariga Rita Avize, March 27).

The national press is indignant at Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for reprimanding the Latvian government for allowing a march by former legionnaires of the Latvian Waffen SS battalion. "The Russian foreign minister hurled one more slanderous accusation against the Latvian Republic... Lavrov should not blame the mirror for showing a crooked face. The U.S.S.R. was number one aggressor in Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania...


Many authors are emphasizing that Moscow has lost its dominant role amongst the post-Soviet republics. "Ukraine's NATO entry may be either delayed or precipitated, but Russia will not be able to influence it. Russia has no opportunities for blackmail - the gas wars of the last three years have shown that Russia depends on Ukraine for gas as much as Ukraine depends on Russia... Russia lost all levers of influence over Ukraine when it ceased to be not only a Soviet-style global power but even a regional leader. It has lost its key role in the post-Soviet space." (Delo, March 31).


The press is writing that President Bush accepted Putin's invitation to make a lightning visit to Sochi after the Bucharest NATO summit because both leaders want to create a favorable background for bilateral relations before they are replaced by their successors. "They will hardly resolve all their differences at once, and for this reason their main task is to alleviate the worst of these...


The media claim that Russia should understand that it needs a strong Armenia and not worsen the dependent position of its strategic ally. In connection with this, certain hopes are set on the new Russian president. "By gradually depriving Yerevan of its independence, Moscow is loosing a strong partner on the international scene. Russia should not try to turn Armenia into an obedient and dependent country, but rather help it become a regional power that will help defend Russia's interests...


The press notes that Russia has managed to split NATO into two camps - the United States and "the new Europe" support inviting Tbilisi and Kiev to join NATO, while Western Europe opposes it because it is afraid of Russia's negative reaction. "The bid by Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO is a headache... If rapprochement with Ukraine and Georgia is postponed, there will be no improvement in the situation, while Russia's reaction will not become less hostile in the future." (Zerkalo, Apil 1).


The media warn that the Kremlin's flirtation with nationalist groups can lead to Russia's break-up. "Regrettably, there are a number of state figures in Russia who support the ethnic supremacy of the Russian people in the hierarchy of the peoples of Russia. The authorities themselves set up the moderate nationalist party Rodina, which quickly became not so moderate.

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