Tags: Putin's | Policies | Odds | With | U.S. | Interests

Putin's Policies at Odds With U.S. Interests

Friday, 25 January 2002 12:00 AM

The latest news from Moscow dramatically undermines the "friendly" image of Russia's President Vladimir Putin promoted by some liberal U.S. and Western politicians.

Using financial and economic benefits granted to Moscow for its symbolic support for the anti-terrorist coalition, Putin is increasing Russia's military preparations, as well as stepping up his offensive against what's left of democracy in his country.

A few days ago, Putin approved the new Russian defense budget, which increased military spending by more than 40 percent.

Fully half of the new appropriations will be used to modernize Russia's military machine. Meanwhile, the other half will be used to develop and deploy new generations of aircraft, combat ships, attack and missile submarines, nuclear missiles and other "fifth generation" lethal weapons.

While the mainstream American press didn't mention it, the state-run Russian national TV proudly announced that many of the "fifth generation" weapons systems funded by the new budget do not have any comparable systems in the West.

There is no doubt that these weapons were designed for a war against the U.S. and NATO, and many of them will be for sale to rogue nations and those sponsoring international terrorism.

After Sept. 11, as a result of Russia's backing of the anti-terrorist coalition, Western countries toned down criticism of the Russian campaign in Chechnya, whose people have been fighting for their independence from Moscow for more than two centuries.

The brutality of Russian troops in Chechnya last week, however, became so obvious that American and other Western officials could no longer continue to keep silent over the problem and have begun to press Moscow for a political rather than a military solution.

On Jan. 22, Russian authorities forced the country's last relatively independent television station, which had criticized the government's handling of the military campaign in Chechnya, off the air, symbolizing a final crackdown on press freedom in the country.

Officials cut electricity, telephone and Internet service for TV-6 at midnight, after a lengthy financial and legal battle between its owner, self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, and the well-known oil giant Lukoil, which has close ties to the Kremlin.

Putin's supporters are trying to keep the president's name out of this case, but the TV-6 news staff directly accused him of engineering the shutdown.

"Russia is heading toward [an] authoritarian and totalitarian regime. The authorities have shown that this team of journalists does not meet its requirements," said Network General Manager Yevgeny Kiselyov.

He added that he had "no doubt it was the president's decision to close the station down."

It is very good that President Bush, who is due to visit Moscow later this year, has a strong personal relationship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

That does not warrant, however, building some kind of new "partnership" with Putin, who continues to pursue international goals that contradict American interests while on the domestic scene increasing pressure on the remnants of democracy and repressing his own people.

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The latest news from Moscow dramatically undermines the friendly image of Russia's President Vladimir Putin promoted by some liberal U.S. and Western politicians. Using financial and economic benefits granted to Moscow for its symbolic support for the anti-terrorist...
Putin's,Policies,Odds,With,U.S.,Interests
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2002-00-25
Friday, 25 January 2002 12:00 AM
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