The Media Mirror – Today's Russian press review

The marine catastrophe of the century: five merchant vessels go down in one night. Georgia: has Saakashvili won or lost? Russia – U.S. relations : are we drifting towards partnership or a Cold War?

All newspapers report on the disaster in the Kerch Strait. In a heavy storm the area became a trap. One by one tankers and freighters  went under or ran aground. IZVESTIA shows the location of every sunk or damaged vessel on a map.

Georgia. A NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA editorial says the unprecedented move by Mikhail Saakashvili has shown his people that he is not going to cling to power. It is a brilliant tactic. Now the people will look at him differently and compare him with the leaders of the opposition. It is very likely that the comparison will not be in their favour.

Aleksandr Rahr of the German Council on Foreign Policy writes there are several angles to Saakashvili’s actions.

The foreign policy angle: in December Kosovo may announce its independence. Then the turn of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia will come and things may get out of hand.

The domestic angle: Mikhail Saakashvili is now in total isolation. Most of his former party colleagues are at the helms of opposition parties. Now the only resource he can tap is the support of the West. Who knows, asks the author, would the West help a leader who has lost a lot of his former popular support? 

IZVESTIA writes that Washington has had three disappointments recently: one with Pakistan – a nuclear power now in deep crisis. Another one with the crisis of Washington’s favourite coloured revolution – in Georgia. And on top of that, the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has no end in sight. The paper asks whether the U.S. administration is capable of tackling all three issues simultaneously? It adds that it seems even in Washington not too many people believe that it is.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes two different views on Russia-U.S. relations. Russia expert Professor Robert Legvold of Columbia University says neither a new Cold War nor a real strategic partnership awaits us in the near future. There will be a constant search for compromise, consultations and arguments he says.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, and also a well-known Russia expert says energy policy is Russia’s challenge to the world. She adds that in Russia-U.S. relations the main problems are in the sphere of energy policy and Russia’s domestic politics, especially the concentration of power in the Kremlin.