Thursday, June 07, 2007

Putin outmanuevering the Moron in the global chessgame

Putin turns tables on Bush with new missile plan

By Tabassum Zakaria and Caren Bohan

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin turned the tables on Washington on Thursday by suggesting the United States use a Russian-controlled radar instead of U.S. anti-missile hardware in central Europe.

At a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush during a Group of Eight summit, Putin proposed that the United States and Russia jointly use a radar in Azerbaijan as part of an anti-missile shield that would protect all of Europe.

"We can do this automatically, and hence the whole system which is being built as a result will cover not only part of Europe but the entire Europe without an exception," Putin said.

"This would also ... allow us not to redirect our rockets (to targets in Europe) and, on the contrary, allow us to create conditions for joint work," he said.

Washington says it wants to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as defence against projectiles launched by what it calls "rogue" states like Iran.

The project has infuriated Moscow which says it will upset the global strategic balance and could be used to launch attack missiles or to spy on Russia. Washington denies this.

In his comments to reporters, Bush did not directly mention Putin's radar plan, which a White House aide said was new.

"He made some interesting suggestions," Bush said.

Putin vowed last week to target Europe if Washington pressed ahead with its central European missile shield plan. Washington has accused Russia of being uncooperative but Putin's plan would seem to undermine that criticism.

A Kremlin spokesman explained Putin's suggestion of using a Russian-operated radar in Azerbaijan would remove any need for a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic or anywhere in eastern Europe.

But it was unclear if Bush would ever consider the idea of dropping the Czech radar, a plan he vehemently defends.

Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov as saying Azerbaijan was ready for formal talks on the joint use of the Qabala radar.

A senior Kremlin aide said he was certain the missile shield plan could be turned into a joint U.S.-Russian project.


Yevgeny Volk, head of the Moscow office of the Heritage Foundation, a U.S. think tank, told Reuters Putin's proposal was a ruse designed to stop the United States basing elements of its anti-missile defence systems in eastern Europe.

"It looks like an attempt to divert discussion into a side street and make proposals that will hardly be acceptable to the United States."

It was the two presidents' first one-on-one meeting since Putin launched an attack on the Bush administration at a conference in February, where he accused Washington of trying to force its will on the world and become its "single master".

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters Putin's idea of using a Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan was "a bold proposal". U.S. officials would study the offer and discuss it with the Russians.

The Qabala radar, one of the biggest in the world, has operated in the north of Azerbaijan since 1985. It scans the whole of the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and most of North Africa -- and can detect missiles launched in those areas.

It is still manned by Russian military, who lease it from the Azeris.

Original article posted here.

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