Category Archives: Russia

First Lady Michelle and Russian First Lady Medvedeva Visit Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva of Russia attend a performance at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C. June 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“Just in this performance, you have strengthened the bond between two great nations. Imagine that,” said Mrs. Obama following a music and dance program at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, DC. First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by the First Lady of Russia, Mrs. Svetlana Medvedev.

Arts education and engaging young people around the world are priorities for both First Ladies. During the President and First Lady’s visit to Russia last summer, Mrs. Medvedev and Mrs. Obama attended a performance by the Moiseyev Dance Company with an audience of Russian youth.

Mrs. Obama spoke to the students about the potential of the arts:

So you know how the arts can enrich all of us in this nation as individuals. You know how the arts can enrich all of our communities and the country. And you know how the arts can connect us to each other like nothing else can. You know how people who come from completely different cultures and backgrounds, people who might not even speak a single word of the same language, they might still be drawn together when their hearts are lifted by the notes of a song, or a vision on a canvas, or the graceful arc of a dance.

And I think that should give us all cause for hope, all around the world, because we know that ultimately, relationships between nations aren’t just about relationships between presidents and prime ministers, or first ladies, for that matter. The real foundation of these relationships are about the connections between ordinary citizens, particularly between young people. You all are leading the way in this movement.

She spoke about their shared priority to engage youth:

That’s why engaging young people across the globe is such a priority for me, and I know it is for Mrs. Medvedev as well, because her country, like ours, is a place that cares deeply about culture and about the young people who carry it forward…And as I travel around the world, I want young people everywhere to know that the United States believes in them and cares about their future. It is so important for us to continue to lift up the next generation, not just here in this country but your peers around the world.

“It’s up to you,” said Mrs. Medvedev, “Up to the young people of both countries, to build the world that will be a world of friendship and cooperation between our states and between our governments.”

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Filed under Childhood Obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama, Russia, Students, Uncategorized

West Wing Week ~ Mailbag Day ~ June 18 – June 24, 2010

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia talk as they wait for their lunch at Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Mailbag Day! We decided to make episode thirteen of West Wing Week a chance to respond to some of your letters and emails. This week, find out if the White House composts, learn which direction the eagle on the Presidential seal faces, and examine the process by which the flag flying over the White House is lowered to half-staff.

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Filed under First Lady Michelle Obama, Pres. Barack Obama, Russia, Uncategorized, West Wing Week

Photo of the Day: St Petersburg

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Filed under Photography, Russia

Terror bombings hit Moscow

cross-posted from T-Time

Two suicide bombings kill dozens in Moscow metro

MOSCOW (AP) — Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on Moscow’s subway system as it was jam-packed with rush-hour passengers Monday, killing at least 37 people and wounding 102, officials said.

The head of Russia’s main security agency said preliminary investigation places the blame on rebels from the restive Caucasus region that includes Chechnya, where separatists have fought Russian forces since the mid-1990s.

The first explosion took place just before 8 a.m. at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow. The station is underneath the building that houses the main offices of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the KGB’s main successor agency.

A second explosion hit the Park Kultury station about 45 minutes later.

Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu said the toll was 37 killed and 102 injured, but he did not give a breakdown of casualties at each station, according to Russian news agencies. AP

more here: Moscow bombing: who are the Black Widows?

Obama condemns Moscow bombs as heinous terrorism

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Filed under Crime, Russia, Terrorism, Uncategorized

President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates Join To Announce START Nuclear Treaty Negotiations With Russia

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the press during a conference with (L-R) Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the White House March 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. Clinton, Gates and Mullen answered questions about the new START Treaty with Russia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

President Obama opens today’s press briefing with an announcement of the new START treaty with Russia, “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.” Following the President were Secy. of State Hillary Clinton, Secy. of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.

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Filed under Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Nuclear Weapons, Peace Talks, Pres. Barack Obama, Robert M. Gates (Sec of Defense), Russia, Video/YouTube

Obama and Medvedev Set To Sign Breakthrough Arms Pact

Posted by: Audiegrl

NYT~President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, have broken through a logjam in their arms control negotiations and expect to sign a new treaty in Prague next month that would slash American and Russian nuclear arsenals, officials from both nations said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev still need to talk once more to finalize the agreement, but officials were optimistic that the deal was nearly done.

The two sides have discussed a signing ceremony in Prague in early April, marking the anniversary of the first meeting between the two presidents and of Mr. Obama’s speech outlining his vision for eventually eliminating nuclear weapons.

The new pact would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991, which expired in December, and would require both sides to reduce their warheads and launchers by more than one-quarter. The agreement is the most significant accomplishment so far for Mr. Obama’s policy of trying to “reset” relations with Russia. It is intended to pave the way for another more far-reaching round of reductions later in his term.

Neither the White House nor the Kremlin would formally comment on Wednesday, but officials on both sides confirmed that an agreement was close to done. A Kremlin official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was basic agreement on the text of the pact, although not all the wording had been finalized. He confirmed that Prague would be the likely location of a signing ceremony, although that too needed to be finalized.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Nuclear Weapons, Peace Talks, Russia

On Obama’s War in Afghanistan: — More Loans, Fewer Drones

blogpost by Ogenec

I am looking forward to hearing Obama’s speech tonight. I do hope, however, that we don’t get the kind of speech he is so adept at giving: the one where he impresses us with his mastery of nuance and ability to understand all sides of a multi-faceted issue. At this point, even his detractors are prepared to concede him that point. The question is not his capacity for reflection, but his capacity for conviction. If he believes the war is worth fighting, he must convince us of that. More to the point, he must convince us we need to sacrifice for the effort. If, however, he does not believe this war is worth fighting in the long term, then he must also convince us of that.

And here I’ll digress to state my own opinion. I think that the term “war” is not the right one, and it just distorts the analysis to look at it from that perspective. We are not at “war” with Afghanistan. But we should do whatever it takes to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuary. Not just because of Af-Pak, although Pakistan is tremendously important: ISI, nukes, Kashmir, and all that. In my own opinion, the problem is what a time series would show: that Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and metastizing, from the Middle East into Asia, Europe, and even sub-Saharan Africa. It will take a concerted, global effort to reverse this trend, and it behooves all countries to get involved, and to stop playing geo-political games with the issue.  Russia is learning that lesson the hard way.   They imagined that they could use Iran as a pawn in their geopolitical chess match with the  United States.   But the recent terrorist attack in Russia demonstrates the limits of that strategy: Russia can make nice with the Iranian theocrats all it wants, but that will not deter the fundamentalists from their vision of a Caliphate that spans Asia, Europe and Africa. By whatever means necessary.

Similarly, pacifists, progressives, liberals (or whatever they want to call themselves) should recognize the limits of their strategy.  Repudiating Bush’s silly pre-emptive war doctrine does not mean that we should end the effort in Afghanistan, and “just bring the troops home.”  Again, that view severely misapprehends the existential nature of the threat. That said, I do agree that there is something to the “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” argument: that by intervening militarily in Afghanistan, we perpetuate the disaffection that leads to the very fundamentalism we are trying to prevent.  I get that.  But that does not mean we abandon the endeavor: it means that we transform it. We should not make the mistake with Karzai that Bush made with Musharraf, and prop up a corrupt administration with divided loyalties. Rather, we should help the local populace with economic alternatives: more micro loans, less drones, to coin a phrase. So the focus on troop numbers misses the point in my view. The question is, what is the purpose of the troops? This is what I want to hear from Obama tonight. Tell me that the troops are a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves.

And, while you’re at it, tell me how we are going to pay for it. Make this a national call to action, and Americans will be happy to do their share. But you’ve gotta make the case.  My vote: WaPo’s prescription of a gasoline tax.

Related discussion:
Tom Ricks C-span interview: What’s next in Afghanistan? 12/1/2009

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Military, Opinions, Pakistan, Russia, Uncategorized, United States