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16 Jan, 2009 15:07

Friday's press review

Friday's press review

This Friday Russian newspapers analyse the Pentagon’s plans concerning Iraq, explore the future of international politics once Barack Obama becomes U.S. President and report on the developments of the ongoing ‘gas war.’

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that the Pentagon is hastily changing its plans concerning the withdrawal from Iraq in order to meet the obligation pronounced by Barack Obama during the presidential campaign: to withdraw from Iraq completely by May, 2010. The paper says that the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff are rewriting the plans against the better advice of the U.S. commanding generals in Iraq who think that a hasty pullout would cause an uncontrolled explosion of violence among the locals.

The paper quotes an international analyst who says that a swift withdrawal is just not possible: first the Americans will have to leave the cities to the local authorities to control and stay in fortified encampments outside the cities, so they can swiftly re-enter to suppress violence if they are called. Only after a certain period without major violent outbreaks can they redeploy – mainly to Afghanistan, says the analyst. He continues to say that at the moment Obama is only a president-elect, and no one knows for sure what will his course will be as president.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that with Barack Obama’s inauguration looming, a new trend is emerging in international politics: many Western leaders, eager to jump on Obama’s bandwagon, have started denouncing his predecessor’s policies, including the war on terror. The paper says that British Foreign Minister David Miliband’s speech in Mumbai, as well as his article in The Guardian, is a clear example of such behavior.

However Dr. Aleksey Gromyko, of the Institute of Europe, the Russian Academy of Sciences, is quoted in the same article as saying that for Miliband, who has never been a staunch follower of Bush terrorism-related policies, it is not a change of heart but a case of fine tuning, adjusting to the realities of a new U.S. administration.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes about the visit to Japan of the Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council Sergey Mironov: most of his meetings with the Japanese counterparts were dedicated to the issue of the borderlands. At every meeting, says the paper, the Japanese side, immediately after the usual exchange of pleasantries, asked the first question – on the Kuril Islands.

The paper quotes the Head of the Russian Senate as saying that in spite of such insistence on the topic, he was surprised by the sensitive and peaceful form in which the Japanese colleagues chose to discuss the matters. Sergey Mironov, says the paper, also noted that to find compromise both Russia and Japan will have to abandon the most extreme of the existing views on the issue and choose a milder approach. “Anyway, we must not leave this problem to our descendants to solve in our stead,” says the Speaker.

IZVESTIA writes about the summit of Heads of State of the countries that have suffered from the ‘gas war’ between Russia and Ukraine: Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko refuses to come to Moscow for the summit and insists that the summit should be held in a ‘neutral’ capital, like Prague or Brussels. The paper says there may be two reasons for this:

Firstly, the Ukrainian president intends to gain some political brownie points with the West by politicising the purely economic matter.
The second is that Ukraine has indeed been stealing gas from the pipelines and the pipes are indeed empty, which means that before they are filled up again the transit of gas to Western Europe is technically impossible. In this case it means that President Yushchenko has been telling lies to both Russia and the West and doesn’t want this fact to be exposed in Moscow, where there is not much hope that anyone present would be in a forgiving mood.

KOMMERSANT says President Yushchenko’s call to hold the summit at an alternative place has gained support from the current EU chair, the Czech Republic. However Moscow is not going to bend to any pressure, says the paper quoting a Russian Foreign Ministry official who says that ‘whatever the Czechs say, it is a matter of principle for us to hold the summit in Moscow: we are inviting some non-EU countries too, and we need to explain the issues to them, and we need to do it here.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT