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|Meeting Between Putin, UAE Emir's Son May Result in Economic,
ABU DHABI, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - A number of economic and military treaties between Russia and the United Arab Emirates may be signed as a result of upcoming talks between the Russian president and the son of the UAE Emir, the head of the Emirates Policy Centre told International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya Wednesday.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Mohammed Khalifa Nahyan, the son of the current Emir of Abu Dhabi emirate, will hold a meeting in Sochi, a Russian city in Krasnodar Territory, on Thursday.
"I think, the visit of the son of the current Emir of Abu Dhabi emirate will result in the signing of several new treaties – not only economic, but also military," Ketbi who is also an Assistant Professor at UAE University said in an interview.
Ketbi also noted that the UAE views Russia as a major player in the international arena.
"Russia is one of the most influential powers in our multipolar world. The UAE understands that Russia is a force to be reckoned with. And it is powerful not only from a political perspective, but also an economic one," Ketbi said.
In recent years, UAE-Russia relations have strengthened, especially in the field of economics. In September, the Russian president claimed that prospects were good for investment cooperation between the two countries.
Russia's Economy Stalls Amid Western Sanctions, Oil Price Drop -- Update
by Alexander Kolyandr, Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow and Chiara Albanese in London
Russia's economy--battered by Western sanctions and falling prices for oil, its main export--stalled in September even as inflation hit the highest levels in months, data showed Wednesday.
The outlook appears dim, because officials said the surge in inflation is likely to force the central bank to further increase interest rates in the coming months. The inflation was fueled in part by Moscow's move in August to ban food imports from Western countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia.
The ruble, meanwhile, has slipped to record lows against the dollar and euro in recent weeks amid concerns about geopolitical tensions and falling oil prices.
The currency drop has also contributed to inflation by boosting prices for imported goods. The State Statistics Service reported Wednesday that consumer price inflation reached an annual rate of 8.3% in the third week of October, the highest level this year, driven by a rise in food prices.
At a conference in London Wednesday, Sergei Shvetsov, first deputy chairman of the central bank, said rising inflationary expectations would force the bank to "seriously consider" another increase in interest rates. The central bank has already done so three times this year, raising the cost of credit for Russian companies just as they've faced a shut-off of lending from the West due to sanctions.
Mr. Shvetsov said the central bank remains committed to allowing the ruble to float more freely starting in January, noting that "politically, it is easier to work with a decreasing than an increasing ruble, as a strengthening ruble is a problem." A stronger currency hurts Russian exporters by making their products more expensive on foreign markets.
The central bank has intervened heavily this month to slow the ruble's slide. Wednesday, the Finance Ministry announced it would soon begin offering foreign-currency deposits to banks in an effort to ease a shortage of dollars and euros on the market.
Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukaev said GDP growth in the first nine months of this year was 0.7%, unchanged from the rate reported for the first eight months of the year, Russian news agencies reported Wednesday. That result would keep Russia's economy on track for its weakest performance since the recession of 2009.
Though Mr. Ulyukaev didn't provide monthly figures, the latest result suggests that the economy stagnated or even contracted in September from the month before. In September 2013, GDP contracted 0.1% from the previous month.
The government's forecast calls for growth of 0.5% this year, down from 1.3% in 2013, but many economists expect the 2014 result to be weaker.
Write to Alexander Kolyandr at Alexander.Kolyandr@wsj.com, Andrey Ostroukh at email@example.com and Chiara Albanese at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ukraine crisis - the view from Russia
by Ivan Egorov and Nikolai Patrushev for Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The last few months have witnessed a coup d’état in Ukraine, military operations by the Ukrainian authorities against the people of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts and rabidly anti-Russian policies on the part of Kiev. Was it possible to predict this turn of events just a year ago?
Nikolai Patrushev: Our experts warned that a worsening of the situation in Ukraine was likely under conditions of political and economic instability, particularly in the case of outside influence. But I have to admit that the possibility of a sudden seizure of power in Kiev, relying on armed units of self-proclaimed Nazis, hadn’t then been considered. It’s worth remembering that until that coup, Moscow fulfilled all its obligations to Kiev in full.
Without the material and financial help that we constantly supplied, Ukraine wouldn’t have been able to deal with its economic problems, which had become chronic. To help our neighbour, we marshalled material and financial resources worth tens of millions of dollars. For many people in Ukraine, this help came to seem so routine that they simply forgot how important it was for the survival of the country.
But if you’re talking about longer-term predictions, the Ukraine crisis was a totally predictable outcome of the actions of the US and its closest allies.
For the last quarter of a century, these actions were designed to wrest Ukraine and other former Soviet republics away from Russia and to redesign the post-Soviet space in America’s interests. The US created the conditions and pretexts for the coloured revolutions and financed them lavishly.
Victoria Nuland, the US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, has said that her country spent $5bn between 1991 and 2013 “supporting the aspirations of the people of Ukraine for a stronger, more democratic government”. Even open sources, such as congressional documents, show that government spent no less than $2.4bn on various American “aid” programmes to Ukraine between 2001 and 2012. That’s comparable to the annual budget of some small states. The US Agency for International Development spent around half a billion dollars, the State Department nearly half a million and the Pentagon more than $370m.
According to Congress, organisations like Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Peace Corps and the Open World Center participated in aid programmes to Ukraine, in addition to USAID and other government agencies. It is not hard to guess why and for whom American volunteers and diplomatic missions have been “opening up the world” in the 23 years since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Could it be that this money was spent on good causes and helped to build a true ‘democratic’ society in Ukraine, as Americans understand it?
Nikolai Patrushev: I don’t know if its possible to talk of good causes if you consider that as a result of this activity, a whole generation in Ukraine was brought up to hate Russia and believe in the mythology of “European values”. This generation doesn’t grasp that these values, even if they are given a positive spin, are not, in fact, meant for Ukrainians. No one intends to raise the standard of living in Ukraine or to provide for young Ukrainians in a Europe that is itself struggling with very serious challenges and threats.
I think that when Ukrainians do come to their senses, it will be difficult and painful. We can only hope that this happens quite fast. Rapid disillusionment is possible for a whole range of reasons. I want to mention one more factor that is crucial. However events develop from here, the importance that Russia and Ukraine represent for one another will endure. Ukraine simply cannot prosper without Russia, whether it likes it or not.
That interdependence of economic, logistical and other ties evolved over centuries. The complete severing of these ties would be a painful blow for Russia but it would be a catastrophe for Ukraine. Not for nothing was President Petro Poroshenko forced to delay implementing the economic part of the Association Agreement with the EU, just as his ousted predecessor was. I expect that the victorious euphoria amongst Kiev’s other rulers will give way to a more sober assessment of the real state of affairs.
Some experts believe that the Ukraine crisis served simply as a pretext for the west to escalate relations with Russia. Is that true?
Nikolai Patrushev: Yes, if the catastrophe in Ukraine had not occurred, another pretext would have been found to activate the policy of “containment” towards our country. This policy has been followed religiously for many decades: only the forms and tactics by which it has been realised have changed.
It is well known that after the second world war, the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the west, headed by the US, took the form of a cold war. The military-political element of this conflict rested with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which was established on 4 April 1949 at the initiative of the US. An analysis of Nato’s actions shows that, having created the alliance, the US pursued two main goals.
First, a military bloc formed under American leadership, aimed against the USSR.
Second, Washington pre-empted the emergence in western Europe of an independent group of states that could have competed with the US. It is worth remembering that although, essentially, the US exerted unilateral control over its allies, its territory was not included in Nato’s sphere of responsibility.
After the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, which united the socialist countries of Europe and whose very existence was regarded by Nato as a grave danger, the bloc was not only not dissolved, it grew further, both numerically and militarily.
But Nato wasn’t the only factor that exerted an impact on the collapse of the Soviet Union, was it?
Nikolai Patrushev: During the cold war, a whole series of doctrines appeared in the west to justify this anti-Soviet political course. The author of one such doctrine was the American political scientist and statesman of Polish extraction, Zbigniew Brzezinski. He came up with what became known as the strategy of “weak points”, the crux of which lay in identifying the weaknesses of a potential adversary and turning them into serious problems. This strategy served to divert an opponent’s strength away from true confrontation with the US by forcing it to focus its resources on resolving its own mounting problem.
In the 1970s, Brzezinski adapted this to the Soviet Union. By that time, under Ronald Reagan, he had become America’s most important politician in relation to our country. The US national security council was in charge of implementing the strategy, with the president at the helm. The CIA was responsible for identifying and pinpointing our weak points, as well as working out how to transform them into serious problems for the USSR.
It is worth remembering that the then-director of the CIA, William Casey, decided to bring in noted scholars, above all economists, but also specialists from the business world who had personal experience of fighting off competitors. In the course of extensive analytical work, the political, economic, ideological and other weak points of the USSR were defined and studied systematically.
Our country’s main weak point, the CIA found, was its economy. After detailed modelling, the American specialists discovered its weakest link, namely, the chronic dependence of the USSR’s budget on the export of hydrocarbons. They came up with a strategy for bankrupting the Soviet state by pursuing two interrelated goals: slashing the USSR’s income from foreign trade at the same time as increasing its expenditure on resolving externally-provoked problems.
Depressing world oil prices was seen as the main way of cutting the state’s income. This was achieved in the mid-1980s when, as a result of an agreement between the US and a range of oil-producing countries, a surplus of oil flooded onto the market and oil prices fell by a factor of four.
They increased the Soviet Union’s expenditure in a number of ways: moving away from a strategy of confronting the USSR in Afghanistan towards one of entangling it in the Afghan war; inciting acts of hostility to the government in Poland and other Socialist states with the aim of goading Moscow into spending more on stabilising Eastern Europe; stepping up the arms race by, among other things, bluffing over the Strategic Defense Initiative.
It must be said that the Americans achieved their aims. As a result of their actions, the USSR’s expenditure came to greatly exceed its income, provoking a deep economic crisis that spread to the spheres of politics and ideology. The Soviet leadership’s shortsighted attempts to retrieve the situation by accepting financial help from abroad gave Washington additional leverage over Moscow. “Invigorating” measures designed to liberalise the terms of foreign trade were proposed by the west and implemented by the IMF and the World Bank but, in the absence of a smooth transition from the former monopolistic system, they led to the final collapse of the economy.
The strategy of weak points, American experts believe, demonstrated that an economic cold war was far more effective than a hot war and was decisive in bringing about the liquidation of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.
After the collapse of the USSR, was it possible to resist a new partition of the world or was the surrender of (Russia’s) positions and allies, like Yugoslavia, already foreordained?
Nikolai Patrushev: At the end of the 20th century, fault lines opened up in the sociopolitical landscape of this region: they emerged in greatest relief during the collapse of the multinational, multi-confessional Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. America’s leaders and those leading Nato took advantage of the fact that the military-political situation was evolving in their favour to realise their long-term aims in south-eastern Europe.
In the 1990s, for reasons both internal and external, Russia lost the dominant influence that the Soviet Union had possessed in the Balkans and went down the route of compromise with the west. In the Balkans we see particularly clearly how Russia unilaterally surrendered its assets on the world stage without being compensated at all. The people who made our foreign policy between 1991 and 1996 had no understanding of the “national interest”. They expected gratitude for obeying their western partners and hoped to reap some special benefit for our country by cooperating closely and unconditionally with the US. In fact, our American partners stopped taking us seriously almost instantly and only gave us a condescending pat on the back from time to time.
Under the cover of peacekeeping operations and encountering no serious objections from our side, Nato overstepped its mandate with ever growing confidence: it obtained the right to rent strategic infrastructure for long periods of time and, in a variety of ways, subordinated the military command of a range of countries to its control. The alliance’s units entrenched themselves firmly in the region. Other states that participated in the peacekeeping missions, Russia included, did not try to match Nato. Instead, they resigned themselves to the role of junior partners and did not wish to recognise the obvious truth that the Balkans was but a dress rehearsal and prologue for wider attempts to carve up the world.
Was it precisely these steps, then, which led to a clash of interest between western countries and Russia across the whole post-Soviet space?
For the last 20 years, the US has acted particularly assertively and shamelessly in this area and round about. America’s ruling circles took heart from the decline and fall of the USSR and did everything in their power to gain control of Russia and central Asia’s main sources of raw materials, as well as the transit routes by which they were exported. Washington planned to extend its sphere of direct influence to the Black Sea, Caucasus and Caspian regions.
All these territories were deemed to be areas of strategic national interest for the US. Russia alone hindered the implementation of America’s plans to exert total control over these deposits and transport routes because it was still capable, militarily, of inflicting unacceptable damage on the US.
The resolution of this problem, American strategists believed, lay in the final destruction of our system of government and the ultimate dismemberment of our country. The first region to leave Russia ought to be the North Caucasus, they thought.
Special importance was attached to Chechnya, which was clamouring for independence and had been under the de-facto control of the west for some time. In Russia, extremists and their acolytes were lent help by the British and American Secret Services, as well as their allies in Europe and the Islamic world.
It was in these circumstances that the Russian leadership took a firm and principled stand to defend the integrity of the state. President Vladimir Putin revealed the strength of his political will and, by great efforts, succeeded in halting attempts to separate Chechnya from Russia. He then strengthened the republic within the Federation.
After 9/11, the international community recognised that the threat from terrorism was global in scope and paramount in importance. It came to realise that combating this threat would demand a united effort. As a result of our campaign against international terrorism in the Caucasus, the west’s attacks on Russia abated somewhat and we didn’t protest about the operation of America and its allies in Afghanistan. An announcement followed that a wide anti-terrorist coalition had been formed.
Washington showed some readiness to cooperate (with us) at that time but, in actual fact, they never rejected the policy of “containment” towards Russia. Nato facilities moved closer to our borders. International law was replaced by the rule of force (recall the dismemberment of first Yugoslavia, then Serbia, the occupation of Iraq and the invasion of so-called coalition forces into Afghanistan).
After August 2008, when the Georgian leadership tried to annihilate South Ossetia with US help, the world changed radically once again. For the first time in many decades Washington lent direct aid to a foreign government that was attacking Russian citizens and peacekeepers.
The Georgian dictator was betting on a sudden attack. Launched on the opening day of the Olympic Games, it would put Russia in a quandary, allowing the Georgians to unleash their “blitzkrieg”. But the Russian leadership reacted quickly to the deteriorating situation and took the measures necessary to halt the aggression.
It was around this time that talk began of a new reality in geopolitics – the multipolar modern world. How did the USA react to this?
Nikolai Patrushev: After the events of August in the Caucasus, Washington was clearly alarmed by Russia’s readiness to take its place among the world powers of the 21st century, to defend the principle of equal rights and absolute independence in world politics and to convert income from the exploitation of natural resources into real economic and military potential, into human capital.
Future Russian cooperation with China and India was clearly not to the liking of the American leadership, nor was the reality of Brics summits, the formation of the Customs Union or the success of other organisations in which Russia plays a leading role (the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Community)
As the world economic crisis deepened, the US attached growing importance to the rising players on the international scene, such as China, India, Brazil and Iran, as well as to the burgeoning economies of south-east Asia and South Korea. So arose new conceptual frameworks: a special partnership between American and China, strategic cooperation between the US and India, direct dialogue between Washington and Iran, and so on.
The new Obama administration gave off signals about the crucial importance of restoring a mutually beneficial dialogue with Russia on a whole range of questions. The American authorities’ positive approach was to be welcomed.
But it soon became clear that Washington was not interested in real cooperation. They limited themselves to mere expressions of friendship and to initiating some lines of negotiation which turned out in the end to be of almost no benefit to Russia. After a while, even these positive dialogues, non-binding as they were, came to an end and the US’s approach to our country became reminiscent of the cold war once again.
And the logical outcome of this approach was the Ukraine crisis?
Nikolai Patrushev: The coup in Kiev, which was clearly carried out with the help of the US, conformed to a classical model worked out in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. But never before had such a coup impinged on Russia’s interests so directly.
Analysis shows that by provoking Russia into retaliatory measures, the Americans are pursuing the very same goals as in the 1980s vis-a-vis the USSR. Just like back then, they are trying to define our country’s “weak points”. At the same time, of course, they are neutralising economic competitors in Europe who have grown too close to Moscow, as they see it.
It’s worth remembering that Washington always strived to exert leverage over Russia. In 1974, the well-known Jackson Vanik amendment was passed, limiting trade with our country. To all appearances, it became obsolete the moment the USSR fell but it nevertheless remained in force right up until 2012, when it was replaced by the so-called Magnitsky list.
The current sanctions are part of the same trend. The actions of the American administration during the Ukraine crisis are part of a new current in White House foreign policy designed to preserve America’s position of leadership in the world by containing the growing power of Russia and other centres of power. What is more, Washington is actively using the possibilities that Nato offers to exert political and economic pressure on its allies and partners and thereby prevent them from wavering.
Why is the American elite pursuing the right to control foreign (countries’) raw materials so tenaciously at a time when experts in the west are stressing the importance of developing alternative sources of energy that are supposedly capable of replacing oil and gas in double quick time?
Nikolai Patrushev: Specialists are convinced, in fact, that a real alternative to fossil fuels as the basis of energy production won’t appear in the next few decades. What is more, the dominant belief in the west is that the combined power generated by nuclear, hydro, wind and solar can satisfy no more than a fifth of world demand.
Don’t forget another important point. In the world today, there is a growing shortage of food and drinking water for the planet’s rising population. Lacking the most basic means of survival, desperate people turn to extremism, terrorism, piracy and criminality. This accounts, in part, for the sharp disparities between countries and regions, as well as for mass migration.
A shortage of water and irrigable land often causes discord, not least between the republics of Central Asia. Water represents an acute problem for a range of other countries in Asia and, especially, in Africa.
Many American experts, including the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, claim that Moscow ended up with such vast swathes of territory that it is incapable of exploiting it all: this territory does not, therefore, “serve the interests of humanity as a whole”. We continue to hear claims that (the world’s) natural resources were divided up “unfairly” and that (Russia) must grant foreign states “free access” to them.
The Americans are convinced that many other people reason in the same way, especially in the states bordering Russia, which are already banding together to support such claims on our country and will continue to do so in future. As in the case of Ukraine, they propose to solve problems at Russia’s expense and without taking its interests into account.
Even during periods of relative détente between Russia/USSR and the US, such statements always held true.
That is why, whatever the nuances of American behaviour, or that of its allies, this challenge will remain forever present before Russia’s leaders: to guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the homeland, to protect and multiply its wealth and to dispose of that wealth sensibly in the interests of the multinational people of the Russian Federation.
Nikolai Patrushev is a former director of the Russian FSB, the successor organisation to the KGB, and the current secretary of the security council of Russia. This interview first appeared in Russian on RG and was translated by Cameron Johnston
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