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By Mike Whitney  Posted by (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   1 comment
June 10, 2007

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an hour and a half-
long press conference which was attended by many members of the world
media. The contents of that meeting---in which Putin answered all
questions concerning nuclear proliferation, human rights, Kosovo,
democracy and the present confrontation with the United States over
missile defense in Europe---have been completely censored by the
press. Apart from one brief excerpt which appeared in a Washington
Post editorial, (and which was used to criticize Putin) the press
conference has been scrubbed from the public record. It never
happened. (Read the entire press conference archived here )

Putin's performance was a tour de force. He fielded all of the
questions however misleading or insulting. He was candid and
statesmanlike and demonstrated a good understanding of all the main

The meeting gave Putin a chance to give his side of the story in the
growing debate over missile defense in Eastern Europe. He offered a
brief account of the deteriorating state of US-Russian relations
since the end of the Cold War, and particularly from 9-11 to present.
Since September 11, the Bush administration has carried out an
aggressive strategy to surround Russia with military bases, install
missiles on its borders, topple allied regimes in Central Asia, and
incite political upheaval in Moscow through US-backed "pro-democracy"
groups. These openly hostile actions have convinced many Russian hard-
liners that the administration is going forward with the neocon plan
for "regime change" in Moscow and fragmentation of the Russian
Federation. Putin's testimony suggests that the hardliners are
probably right.

The Bush administration's belligerent foreign policy has backed the
Kremlin into a corner and forced Putin to take retaliatory measures.
He has no other choice.

If we want to understand why relations between Russia are quickly
reaching the boiling-point; we only need to review the main
developments since the end of the Cold War. Political analyst Pat
Buchanan gives a good rundown of these in his article "Doesn't Putin
Have a Point?"

Buchanan says:

"Though the Red Army had picked up and gone home from Eastern Europe
voluntarily, and Moscow felt it had an understanding we would not
move NATO eastward, we exploited our moment. Not only did we bring
Poland into NATO, we brought in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and
virtually the whole Warsaw Pact, planting NATO right on Mother
Russia's front porch. Now, there is a scheme afoot to bring in
Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin.

Second, America backed a pipeline to deliver Caspian Sea oil from
Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, to bypass Russia.

Third, though Putin gave us a green light to use bases in the old
Soviet republics for the liberation of Afghanistan, we now seem hell-
bent on making those bases in Central Asia permanent.

Fourth, though Bush sold missile defense as directed at rogue states
like North Korea, we now learn we are going to put anti-missile
systems into Eastern Europe. And against whom are they directed?

Fifth, through the National Endowment for Democracy, its GOP and
Democratic auxiliaries, and tax-exempt think tanks, foundations,
and "human rights" institutes such as Freedom House, headed by ex-CIA
director James Woolsey, we have been fomenting regime change in
Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and Russia herself.

U.S.-backed revolutions have succeeded in Serbia, Ukraine, and
Georgia, but failed in Belarus. Moscow has now legislated
restrictions on the foreign agencies that it sees, not without
justification, as subversive of pro-Moscow regimes.

Sixth, America conducted 78 days of bombing of Serbia for the crime
of fighting to hold on to her rebellious province, Kosovo, and for
refusing to grant NATO marching rights through her territory to take
over that province. Mother Russia has always had a maternal interest
in the Orthodox states of the Balkans.

These are Putin's grievances. Does he not have a small point?"

Yes--as Buchanan opines---Putin does have a point, which is why his
press conference was suppressed. The media would rather demonize
Putin, than allow him to make his case to the public. (The same is
true of other world leaders who choose to use their vast resources to
improve the lives of their own citizens rather that hand them over to
the transnational oil giants; such as, Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Hugo
Chavez) Even so, NATO has not yet endorsed the neocon missile defense
plan and, according to recent surveys, public opinion in Poland and
the Czech Republic is overwhelmingly against it.

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