Russia's president Vladimir Putin has left for Germany to take part in the Group of Eight (G8) summit due on Wednesday, burdened with tensions regarding the US proposed missile system in Eastern Europe.
Prior to the June-6-8 summit, Putin lashed out at Washington's intention to deploy missiles close to the Russian borders and in the meantime ordered his military commanders to rapidly build up a stronger defense system.
Observers pointed out the doubts that Putin voiced when he directly accused Washington of trying to undermine Russia-Europe relations through deploying the missile shield in Europe.
It seems that Washington has felt Russia's discontent with the system and so President George Bush reassured Russians that the missile system would not target them.
"Russia is not an enemy.. There needs to be no military response because we're not at war with Russia. Russia is not a threat," Bush was quoted as saying.
However, such reassurances are not adequate to the Russians who simply want the US to abandon the whole project and to keep its missiles away from Russian borders, or to work together to face any potential missile attack claimed by Washington, if they such threats really exist.
Observers expect political and military "retaliatory steps" from Russia that will take their toll on the relations with the US and the continent.
At the military level, they expect Russia to suspend commitment to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and restore its arsenal of short and medium range missiles, practically destroyed by a Soviet-US agreement in the late 1980s. They think that Russia will re-direct its nuclear missiles toward Eastern Europe especially Poland and the Czech Republic that have agreed to host US missiles on their land.
As for politics, Russia may try to convince friends in Central Asia especially, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to halt military cooperation with the US and close down the American military basis there set up for Afghanistan.
Russia may also withdraw from cooperation with the Washington regarding the international anti-terror war as well as reducing pressure on North Korea and Iran on the their nuclear files. Moscow is anticipated to carry on with pressure on the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) that groups the former Soviet republics that may try to offer military assistance to Washington in an area Moscow considers its domain.
Though the US missile system in Eastern Europe is not on the formal agenda of the G8 summit held in the East German resort of Heiligendamm, but the thorny issue will of course feature high on the Bush-Putin talks on the sidelines of the gathering of the leading industrialized nations and in their forthcoming bilateral summit in Kennebunkport in the US in the near future.
The missile issue has acquired wider dimension when the NATO leadership said that Moscow did not have the right to withdraw from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. In addition, the NATO official spokesman considered Putin's threats of re-directing Russian missile toward European target as unfriendly and not vain.
The Heiligendamm summit might be the first G8 summit to be overshadowed by such tensions with Russia. Therefore, it is nothing but normal that France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy would like to discuss the West-Russia relations as a whole with Putin.
The same applies to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who did not like Putin's statement referring to a British demand to Moscow to hand over the Russian Andrey Lugovoy, charged with killing the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London. Putin said that request was "ridiculous." It has not yet been known if Putin and Blair will meet by themselves on the sidelines of the G8 summit since the Russian president agenda in Heiligendamm, prepared by the Kremlin, did not mention a meeting with the UK Premier.
The Kosovo issue will raise more dispute at the summit since Moscow opposes granting independence to the Province while the West backs the move.
Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2007, 11:21