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Medvedev's Warning to Ukraine

With the Sochi Riviera to his back, Dmitri Medvedev chides Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko for his administration's anti-Russia policies in a video posted on the Kremlin's website late Tuesday

Jonathan Power: Russia, Europe's Other Half

Read it for yourself, and don’t dismiss it, as most western commentators have. The Pan-European Security Treaty, proposed by Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, is worth a read. Doubtless it can be modified, improved and ambiguities removed. But it makes a lot of sense, and it would be another step forwards to what the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, urged—the creation of a “European house”, that contains Russia as one of its inhabitants. Only those “with one foot in the Cold War,” to quote President Barack Obama on the eve of his recent visit to Moscow, should find it objectionable. Indeed, play down Bolshevism and the Cold War. The moment communism, the Cold War and all its baggage were over, Russia itself quickly revived. This was, after all, a period of only 70 years in Russia’s long history—which began even before Prince Vladimir, its ruler, accepted Orthodox Christianity for himself and for his people a thousand years ago. It is 500 years since Byzantium Orthodoxy handed over the torch of the Church’s leadership to Russia. When Constantine in 326 AD moved the throne of the Roman emperor to Constantinople and took his newly adopted Church with him, the city became the headquarters of the Christian faith and its patriarch. When it was overrun by the Ottomans in 1453, the only place for both the spirit and the headquarters of the Church to move to was Orthodox Russia and the Slavic lands.  The “legitimate Church” was now the heritage of Russia. And 1453 was also the end of the Roman Empire. The consequences for Europe have been immense. The cushion of Orthodoxy in Russia saved Europe from the full impact of the eastern nomads and Islam. A Muslim Russia would have meant a very different history for the West. In 1767, the Empress Catherine categorically stated that “Russia is a European state.” In his ambitious study of Europe, Norman Davies wrote that “Fears of the ‘Bear’ did not prevent the growth of a general consensus regarding Russia’s membership in Europe. This was greatly strengthened in the nineteenth century by Russia’s role in the defeat of Napoleon, and by the magnificent flowering of Russian culture in the age of Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, and Chekov.” Indeed it is clear that when it comes to the proficiency in all the arts, Russia has no peer in Europe. Even in the worst of times under Soviet totalitarian rule many individual Russians, not only Gorbachev, in their hearts wanted a European identity—not difficult to believe among those who were conscious of the natural links of their country’s artistic talents and their (repressed) Church. The end of the communist dictatorship enabled Russians and many of the other peoples of the former Soviet Union to greet, in Vaclav Havel’s phrase, the “Return to Europe."

Jonathan Power: A True"Restart" at the U.S.-Russia Summit

The first summit between President Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev is only days away and, so far, there has only been perfunctory mention of this potentially momentous occasion in the media. The silence on this meeting is odd, if not irresponsible. If played right, this could be the most important U.S.-Russia summit since Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush, having torn down the Iron Curtain, decided that they had enough confidence in each other to introduce unilateral nuclear arms cuts, a valuable ancillary to the formal deal. In the opinion of Georgi Arbatov, Gorbachev’s foreign affairs advisor (and before that Brezhnev’s), the time is overdue for more unilateral cuts. He said to me, some two summers ago, that “we in Russia are not right in our approach. We have so many weapons we could decrease the numbers unilaterally and set an example. We could dismantle our rockets, take others off alert, and the Americans would be obliged to follow us.” When I recently asked Igor Yurgens, one of Medvedev’s advisors, about what the “reset” button statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meant, he replied that “the tone is different.” He then added, somewhat amusingly, “We have a new generation—Obama and Medvedev. Since they are both Internet lovers, then the promise of change could be substantiated.” Joking aside, Yurgens notes that “the line up on the U.S. side seems more broad minded than before.” Between Rose Gottemoeller, who spent four years in Moscow and is the head of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, and Gen. James Jones, a national security advisor to Obama who worked constructively on Iran, Yurgens said the Russians “see very good signs.” “The United States and Russia have identical views on Afghanistan,” says Yurgens. “We are on the same page as the United States with [regard to] North Korea. We have some nuances in policy towards Iran, but I think they are surmountable. So, on those three issues (plus Pakistan, plus broader Middle East) there is more that unites us than divides us.” At the July 7 summit, the new Obama administration must begin by giving a little.

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