Tag Archives: Russia

Polish President Lech Kaczynski killed in plane crash, 96 total dead

cross-posted from T-Time

Polish leader, wife and staff among dead, 96 total casualties in Russia jet crash

MOSCOW (AP) – Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of the country’s highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said. Russian and Polish officials said there were no survivors on the 26-year-old Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

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more: Polish president killed in plane crash: the conspiracy theorists will go crazy

Biography of Poland’s: Lech Kaczynski

UPDATE: Polish president’s body returns to Warsaw

AP Photo

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The body of President Lech Kaczynski was returned to Poland on Sunday, where it was greeted by grieving dignitaries and thousands of Poles lining the route from Warsaw’s airport to the presidential palace. The plane carrying Kaczynski’s body arrived from the airport in Smolensk, Russia, where he and 95 others had been heading Saturday to honor 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940 in the western Soviet Union.

Poles grieve over president killed in plane crash

AP Photo

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Poland’s government moved swiftly Sunday to show that it was staying on course after the deaths of its president and dozens of political, military and religious leaders, even as tens of thousands of Poles expressed their grief over the plane crash in Russia that shocked the country. New acting chiefs of the military were already in place and an interim director of the central bank was named Sunday, with work running as usual, said Pawel Gras, a government spokesman.

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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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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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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

The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

The Legacy of 1989 Is Still Up for Debate

BERLIN-WALL-hugeNew York Times/Steven Erlanger—The historical legacy of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the cold war thawed, is as political as the upheavals of that decisive year.

The events of 1989 spurred a striking transformation of Europe, which is now whole and free, and a reunified Germany, milestones that are being observed with celebrations all over the continent, including a French-German extravaganza Monday evening on the Place de la Concorde.

But 1989 also created new divisions and fierce nationalisms that hobble the European Union today, between East and West, France and Germany, Europe and Russia.

From left, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher next to a piece of the Berlin Wall.

From left, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher next to a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Some of the intensity of those divisions is evident in the tug of war, in both Europe and the United States, over the achievements of 1989 — whether they owe more to the resolute anti-Communism of Ronald Reagan or its inverse, the white-glove embrace of the East by many in Western Europe.

And while many in the West saw the wheel of history spinning inevitably, causing the rise of democracy and banishing serious rivals to American power, China forestalled its own revolution in 1989 and catapulted itself to prominence through an authoritarian capitalism that the leaders of Russia are now studying.

The Chinese ended up with a Leninist capitalism, which none of us imagined in 1989, and which is now the main ideological competitor to Western liberal democracy,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a chronicler of 1989 in his book “The Magic Lantern.”

It is a tribute to 1989, not unlike the French Revolution 200 years before it, that its meaning is hotly contested. Different groups in different countries see the anniversary differently, usually from their own ideological points of view.

A group of Russian tourists gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday.

A group of Russian tourists gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday.

In general, said James M. Goldgeier of George Washington University, a historian of the period, “the big question out there for 20 years is who gets the credit.”

For many in the United States, he said, most of the credit now goes to President Ronald Reagan and his aggressive military spending and antagonism toward Communism. That view has largely eclipsed another American perspective, which was that globalization and democratization were so powerful that a Mikhail Gorbachev was inevitable, and that the cold war ended through “soft power” — propaganda, diplomacy and the Helsinki accords.

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Diplomats say that Iran agrees to draft deal on uranium

“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look to the future not the past, trying to heal the wounds,”

VIENNA – Iranian negotiators on Wednesday agreed to consider a draft deal that — if accepted by the Tehran leadership — would delay its ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of the material it would need to Russia for processing, diplomats said Wednesday.

Mohamed-ElBaradei

Mohamed-ElBaradei

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed that representatives of Iran and its three interlocutors — the U.S., Russia and France — had accepted the draft, which still has to be finalized by the four nations’ capitals. ElBaradei said he hoped that would occur by Friday.
“I have circulated a draft agreement that in my judgment reflects a balanced approach to how to move forward,” ElBaradei told reporters, suggesting that all four parties had worked hard to overcome differences exacerbated by suspicions that Iran may be interested in nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its activities are peaceful and meant only to generate energy.
“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look at the future not at the past, trying to heal the wounds,” ElBaradei said. “I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the International community.”
Full story here:

Video: Sec. Clinton: Iran’s Nuke Program of Serious Concern

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Related story:
Top Iranian negotiator praises plan to ship uranium abroad

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