MOSCOW, December 16 (RIA Novosti) Russia trading in diplomatic recognition / U.S. uses NATO as a tool to integrate Russia into its project for a new world order - expert / New round of struggle to end Cold War / Russia affected by Climategate /
Russia trading in diplomatic recognition
Nauru, the world's smallest island nation in the South Pacific, is the fourth country after Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence and sign an agreement to establish diplomatic ties.
The parties to the recent deal are in no haste to disclose how much this latest recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia cost Russia.
Various media sources cite $50 million, which is obviously too much for the recognition of the two republics. If supporting Abkhazia and South Ossetia is such an important part of Russia's foreign policy, Moscow should use the funds to restore South Ossetia, the state of which currently leaves much to be desired. However, if the real price was below $10 million, one could say Russia did not pay an arm and a leg.
This "market for international recognition" by poor and sparsely populated states in the Pacific, Caribbean, Africa and Latin America was created in the 1980s by Taiwan and China. Taiwan needed at least one nation to recognize its own independence, while China was keen to curb any attempt to do so, which resulted in this bizarre phenomenon - trade in diplomatic recognition.
Many countries, such as Nauru, eventually got a good haul from both, with China paying Nauru as much as $135 million. Others were content with smaller investments, such as a mental hospital and a stadium built by the Chinese in St Lucia. Incidentally, Taiwan installed the Internet in that country after yet another U-turn in its policy with regard to its independence.
However, this market declined in the early 2000s, after China attained obvious economic and political superiority. One of the latest deals was the sale of the Pacific island of Kiribati's recognition of Taiwanese separatists for $11 million.
Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by several countries like Nauru will allow Russia to claim that the international community is not unanimous on the issue, and will provide Moscow with arguments in legal issues with Georgia. Moscow will be able to point out that its policy is "symmetrical" to the Western policies in Kosovo, which, although recognized by 60 countries with solid political weight, is not much different from Abkhazia. These benefits could reasonably cost several million dollars, but certainly not tens of millions.
U.S. uses NATO as a tool to integrate Russia into its project for a new world order - expert
The current reset of NATO-Russia relations shows the alliance remains a vehicle for United States foreign and defense policy and that signals coming from Washington are imperative for NATO, writes Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration's new line towards Moscow was at once extended to Russian-NATO relations.
At first glance, this cooperation between the sides is prompted by U.S. interest in Russian assistance on Afghanistan. More deeply, however, Washington seeks to use NATO to integrate Russia into its project for a new world order. To do so, it wants to transform the alliance. Though NATO's role is still to defend Europe from Russia, its other function is gradually coming to the fore - that of being an instrument to use force outside Europe.
NATO's anti-Russian role is declining for obvious reasons. Russia is no longer able to pose an effective threat to the alliance with its non-nuclear forces, especially since the current reform of its army is converting it into a weapon for local conflicts, mainly in the former Soviet republics. At the same time, permanent cuts in the armed forces of NATO countries have rendered them incapable of taking an effective part in any serious conventional war. Therefore, military confrontation between NATO and Russia in Europe is becoming, from the Western point of view, a less probable scenario.
Russia is being offered no serious role in European security - from the point of view of the U.S. and Europe, NATO is quite capable of coping with this mission on its own. The U.S. and Europe consider Russia "harmless" and weak and believe NATO can refocus on supporting American policy outside Europe. In exchange, Russia is offered the West's recognition of the status quo in Europe and postponement of admission to NATO of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. Russia has been recognized as a regional power, but only to a certain extent and only in exchange for its help. These arrangements will stand as long as the U.S. is interested in cooperation with Moscow on specific issues.
The current session of cooperation with NATO is unlikely to bring Moscow long-term military and political dividends - particularly in the face of growing risks from further involvement in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the alliance's rechanneling of military efforts from Europe to Afghanistan will benefit Russia - especially now that Russia is reforming its army. So it makes military and political sense for Russia to accept the current reset of relations with NATO.
New round of struggle to end Cold War
The idea of a new European security pact as proposed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is more important than it may appear, and not only because the war in South Ossetia exposed the ineffectiveness of the current security system, a Russian analyst writes.
Sergei Karaganov, dean of the world economy and policy faculty at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, writes that the Cold War is not over, even though Communism was defeated and military confrontation ended in the early 1990s.
The West rushed to assume control of the countries from which Russia withdrew its troops, and declared the concept of zones of geopolitical influence, or zones of interests, obsolete. It mainly stressed that Russia had no right to such zones.
Meanwhile, the West unceremoniously expanded its zone of influence, if not domination, to Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries in the most sensitive military political sphere.
The Russian analyst writes that the NATO expansion was launched for that purpose and it continued until Russia repelled the Georgian onslaught in South Ossetia. It is a shame that Russia's more prosperous and advanced neighbors failed to heed our arguments and opened their eyes and ears only when Russia complemented its arguments with an iron fist, Karaganov writes.
The actual refusal of the West to end the Cold War seriously hampered Russia's democratic and liberal development because a pro-Western development path entailed neglect for national interests.
Russia's current foreign policy leaders are not Chekisti (secret police) or people with a post-Soviet syndrome but mostly liberal pro-Western diplomats who have become disillusioned with the West. The Western geopolitical expansion policies and refusal to respect Russia's legitimate security interests have undermined the modernization trends traditionally associated in Russia with Western influence.
A new European security treaty would benefit all sides, Karaganov writes. The West, which thought it had won the Cold War, is only now coming to see that victory was snatched by China and the other new giants. But it is not ready to admit its mistake, and so NATO and the OSCE have so far not announced a stance regarding Russia's recent proposal. The press is only repeating old arguments, although less passionately.
This is a new round of struggle to end the Cold War. The future of Medvedev's initiative looks increasingly optimistic, but there is a long trip uphill toward implementing it.
Russia affected by Climategate
A discussion of the November 2009 Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, referred to by some sources as "Climategate," continues against the backdrop of the abortive UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) discussing alternative agreements to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that aimed to combat global warming.
The incident involved an e-mail server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, East England. Unknown persons stole and anonymously disseminated thousands of e-mails and other documents dealing with the global-warming issue made over the course of 13 years.
Controversy arose after various allegations were made including that climate scientists colluded to withhold scientific evidence and manipulated data to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it is.
Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.
Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country's territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports.
Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.
The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations.
On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations.
IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.
The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world's land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.
Global-temperature data will have to be modified if similar climate-date procedures have been used from other national data because the calculations used by COP15 analysts, including financial calculations, are based on HadCRUT research.
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