Tursday's press review

This Thursday Russian newspapers discourage the overly hopeful about the changes in U.S. policies under Obama, explore the perspectives of Russia’s military cooperation with NATO and the U.S., and analyze the meaning of the Davos forum.

IZVESTIApublishes an opinion article by the president of the ‘Politika’ foundation, Viacheslav Nikonov. He writes that the world should not expect miracles from the new U.S. administration. The change promoted by Barack Obama concerns the mode of operation and tactics of the American state rather than its strategies.

Despite the severe economic crisis, says the academic, the U.S. remains the most influential nation on the planet. Politics of great nations, he writes, are heavily laden with inertia, and that adds to the long-lasting character of strategic and some tactical arrangements.

In the case of the Obama administration, continues Nikonov, the tactics and angles are already changing significantly, but there’s no sense in thinking that the logic of the U.S. foreign policy, aimed at America’s global domination, will change any time soon.

Nikonov writes that he may imagine the U.S. administration slowing down the deployment of the missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, but in the core issues like, for instance, the acceptance of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, the U.S. is very unlikely to yield.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI analyses the latest speeches by U.S. political and military officials and confirms the words of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pronounced yesterday at a meeting with the Federation Council of Russia. Lavrov expressed the opinion that the new U.S. administration is better prepared for interaction with Moscow than the previous one.

The paper says, according to Pentagon chief Robert Gates and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, there are several spheres for possible U.S.-Russian military cooperation, including missile defense in Europe and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

The paper quotes Dr. Alexandr Khramchikhin, the head of the analytical department at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, who says that the U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan are in complete accord with Russia’s national interest, and that Russia should assist these efforts. He says: “Never before in Russia’s history has there been such a situation when another country shed so much blood to achieve stability in an area situated in such close proximity to Russia’s borders, in our ‘nearest abroad’.”

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that the current attempts by Kabul to strengthen its ties with Moscow are supposed to make the government of Afghanistan more independent in its relations with Washington. Kabul is interested in buying Russian weapon systems and spare parts.

However, the paper notes that there has been a leak in American media about a secret agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan, compelling Kabul to seek permission from Washington before purchasing any weapons from a third party.

The paper quotes Russian experts who say that in this particular case, taking into consideration the abundance in Afghanistan of Soviet-made weaponry that needs spare parts and upgrades, as well as the fact that the U.S. has been sending signals that it would like Russia to assist with the Afghanistan operation, meaning the U.S. may allow Kabul to proceed.

The paper says there may be another obstacle: Russia wants no direct involvement in combat operations, but if highly sophisticated weapons are purchased, Russian technical specialists would be needed in Afghanistan. In that case, asks the paper, would Kabul guarantee their safety?

At the moment, says the paper, the interests of the West and Russia completely coincide in Afghanistan. However, Russia is concerned about the growing U.S. influence in the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia. That may become an important topic at the first meeting of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The same newspaper writes about the latest report of the London-based Institute of Strategic Studies recommending NATO to build a consistent strategy for the alliance’s relations with Russia. The paper says that, beside other reasons, the report speaks of the “necessity for NATO’s leadership to improve relations with Russia in order to improve its chances in Afghanistan.”

The paper says the report also cites the currently implemented reform of the Russian armed forces as an advantage for cooperation with NATO. It says new Russian brigades would be much more compatible with their Western analogues than the old Russian divisions.

The paper also quotes Russian experts who agree that military cooperation is possible, however they also say that in Afghanistan it is too late to seek military solutions, and the increase in the numbers of the Coalition troops there would only mean more casualties. They say it is more feasible to involve other nations of the region in the stabilisation process in Afghanistan. Pakistan, Iran and India could add their efforts to what the West is doing to strengthen the Afghani government. Russia, concludes the paper, could help with that, but not militarily.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA talks about the forum in Davos: no one expects the documents adopted here to become the final master plan in the fight against the global recession. The paper says the next meeting of the G20 looks like a more important gathering in that sense.

However Davos has shown clearly that on the one hand, old institutions like the IMF are trying to justify their lack of preparedness and save their skins, while on the other hand new methods of crisis management are discussed and their implementation initiated, like the case with the Chinese and Russian initiatives, especially those that involve bypassing the U.S. dollar in bilateral trade and using national currencies instead.

The paper hints at a forming alliance of China, Russia and the leading nations of South America, which may arrive at the G20 with a common agenda which in turn they would then defend at all other international gatherings dedicated to the fight against the global economic crisis.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.