Wednesday, February 23, 2005

# Posted 3:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KREMLINOLOGY: Moscow's ambassador to the United States published an op-ed in yesterday's WaPo that manages to be both belligerent and apologetic all at once. According to Amb. Ushakov,
In my view, it is a sign of maturity in the Russian-U.S. relationship that our presidents and governments can discuss any issue -- our concerns and yours -- in a candid and constructive way. Nothing, including democracy, is off the table.
Wow. It is very suprising to hear a Russian ambassador say that the United States has the right to lecture Russia about its internal affairs. Of course, in the name of "diversity", Ushakov observes that democracy has many different forms. That sounds nice, but none of democracy's many different forms entails state control of the media. If democracy is on the table, Russia may not realize what it's in for.

On a more truculent note, Ushakov says
Let me remind you that Russia has viewed some U.S. approaches as troubling, especially on Iraq. There was widespread opposition to U.S. actions in this regard, which our governments have agreed not to put in the forefront. It is an open secret that many in Russia are expressing serious concern about American intentions in the post-Soviet space, including in Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Notwithstanding these pressures, Putin and the Russian leadership are committed to a close relationship with the United States.
I can't really figure out what Ushakov is saying. That we let you invade Iraq, so you should let Putin consolidate his dictatorship? That if Bush doesn't let Putin consolidate his dictatorship, Russia will cause trouble in Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia?

Frankly, I think Putin & Co. really aren't sure how to deal with Bush. They want to believe that Bush is a realist who will work with any goverment that opposes Al Qaeda. That's Plan A, and I'm not sure that anyone in the Kremlin has a Plan B.
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