Russia Flexes Muscle in Iran, Hamas Talks
On the eve of today's meeting between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations says President Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian ways pose a problem for the United States.
In a report released Sunday, CFR said Russia's drift away from democratic norms under Putin "will make it harder for the two sides to find common ground and harder to co-operate even when they do." Publicly, the two governments are emphasizing their agreement. Bush adminstration officials were privately unhappy about Russia's red carpet treatment of Hamas, whose hardline leaders are rejecting pressures to recognize Israel, and its offer to supply Iran with enriched uranium processed under Russian control.
But the Russian online media played up agreements over differences. The Itar-Tass news agency reported on the U.S. endorsement of Russia's offer to Iran while The Moscow News quoted a State Department spokesman emphasizing that Lavrov had called on Hamas to recognize Israel.
"We think it's important that Hamas get the message loud and clear," said State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli.
But if the message to Palestinians was clear, noted the News, Lavrov did not always say it out loud.
In public remarks with Hamas leaders, Lavrov "made no mention of European and American demands that Hamas recognize Israel and renounce violence," the independent Moscow daily reported.
Patriach Alexy II, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, hailed Hamas for its electoral victory but said the group should recognize Israel. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal welcomed the Patriarch's message, saying it "finds understanding and reciprocity among Palestinians."
Upon leaving Moscow, Meshaal pronounced the trip a success, according to the Regnum news agency.
As Lavrov was wrapping up talks with Hamas, Russian and Iranian officials continued to negotiate a compromise that could head off United Nations sanctions against Iran. The news agency RIA Novosti reported Sunday that an agreement might be just hours away, but but a deal had not materialized by the time the IAEA board convened today in Vienna. The board is to consider whether it will refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible economic sanctions.
Putin's negotiations with Iran may be an effort to steer Russia "away from the Western-oriented policy of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin," say analysts interviewed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
On Hamas and Israel, "Putin wants to play a mediation role in order to boost the authority of Russia, and his own -- or, at any rate, give the impression that Russia plays an important role and that he has the power to advance a settlement in the Middle East," says Vladimir Pribylovsky, director of the Panorama think tank in Moscow.
"The fact that Putin is not united with the United States on this issue but, on the contrary, is against what the United States would have preferred, of course represents a blow to the United States's position," says Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the U.S.A.-Canada Institute in Moscow.
As for the CFR report, evidence of Putin's strong-arm rule was apparent as Russian Special Forces broke up a demonstration where protesters planned to burn scarecrow effigies of Putin, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Seven others protesting the Hamas visit were arrested in a seperate incident.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Max Jerome | March 6, 2006 03:23 PM
Posted by: linnalee | March 6, 2006 03:33 PM
Posted by: P. J. Casey | March 6, 2006 04:30 PM
Posted by: Répás János Sándor | March 6, 2006 04:48 PM
Posted by: Derick | March 6, 2006 04:55 PM
Posted by: dockers | March 6, 2006 05:13 PM
Posted by: sherry | March 6, 2006 05:31 PM
Posted by: Répás János Sándor | March 6, 2006 05:55 PM
Posted by: Ivanov | March 6, 2006 08:08 PM
Posted by: Karim | March 7, 2006 11:56 AM
Posted by: mickey | March 7, 2006 02:30 PM
Posted by: Russia | March 7, 2006 02:40 PM
Posted by: Puppetjoe | March 7, 2006 10:44 PM
Posted by: Candice | July 20, 2006 03:34 AM
Posted by: Ingrid | July 20, 2006 03:34 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.