President Bush is set to meet President Putin in Romania in April, at the first NATO-Russian Council meeting which has ever been held at head of state level. One might think that with a face to face meeting planned, issues that divide NATO and Russia might be close to resolution. But as Bush has decided to press ahead with expansion of NATO into what Russia considers its traditional spheres of influence, there is a much higher chance that fur will fly, than any meeting of minds will occur.
Russia had offered to turn a blind eye to the EU/UN/NATO’s division of Serbia in exchange for NATO agreeing to no further eastern expansion, according to Stratfor. But Bush snubbed Russia’s offer of settling borders as they currently are, and offers of help in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern troublespots where the US is experiencing overstretch.
Since the snub, Iran is now hopeful of joining the Shanghai Group of countries (See HERE) which comprises Russia, China and four ‘Stans’, and which is seen as providing a counterweight to US power and influence around the globe. If Bush had made an agreement with Russia, he could have isolated Iran at the same time, but the rift between Russia and the USA has grantd Iran an opening.
Putin will no doubt not miss any opportunity at the forthcoming meeting to humiliate Bush, if his current rhetoric is anything to go by. Bush has also ensured the Kosovo project will become increasingly problematic by losing the chance to recruit Russian cooperation.
As reported (yet again) by China News (Xinhua) HERE
BRUSSELS, March 28 (Xinhua) — Russia’s ambassador to NATO dismissed on Friday NATO’s call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid “unhelpful rhetoric” at next week’s NATO summit.
In an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he hoped the Russian leader would refrain from making anti-West comments.
“Let’s try to avoid unhelpful rhetoric, like ‘We will target missiles on nations A, B and C.’ That is not only unhelpful, but it makes me remember a time when I was growing up when there was a Berlin Wall and an Iron Curtain,” de Hoop Scheffer told the paper.
The call was branded groundless by Russian ambassador Dmitry Rogozin.
“I think he (de Hoop Scheffer) had no real grounds to say that,” Rogozin told reporters on Friday.
“Which is more important in international relations — aggressive policy or aggressive rhetoric?” he asked.
“Is Russia going to deploy any new military bases of its armed forces in Mexico or Canada; or is it negotiating on the accession of Iceland or Northern Ireland to the Warsaw Pact organization; or is Russia deploying its strategic missile defense in Mexico; or is Russia recognizing some parts of sovereign states, like Northern Ireland, Corsica, or the Basque area in Spain, irrespective of the fact that it’s prohibited by international law?”
Russia is doing none of them, he said, in a veiled attack of Washington’s military expansion and its policies on NATO enlargement and Kosovo.
The outspoken diplomat quipped that the NATO chief might have problems with Putin calling a spade a spade, he said.
“That will not change. He (Putin) will still call a spade a spade and we will come out with our open and frank views and descriptions on the situation in international security,” he said.
“President Putin was elected by the Russian people and he is free to say whatever he wants to,” said Rogozin.
Putin was invited to the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, for a NATO-Russia Council meeting. This will be the first time that the council is held at the level of heads of state.