I confess to utter contempt for the Russians. It is personal with me, but I try and temper my judgement, barely successful at times. I was stupefied by the inanities of GWB and his man-love for Vladimir Putin, KGB vavasour.
Had it not been done to the President of the United States, I would have been amused at the amateur hour performance of Obama when he was in Russia and his utter misunderstanding and naivete in dealing with them.
This was highlighted by the deal with the Russians to overfly Russia to support the Afghanistan debacle.
You will recall that we stabbed Poland in the ass on the sixtieth anniversary of the Nazi and Russian attack on Poland. Russia, you will recall, invaded Poland’s eastern front in 1939, two weeks after Nazi Germany overran Poland’s western border. Stalin and his thugs then murdered the entire elite Polish officer corps.
In a ceremony described as “moving” by Russian diplomats, President Obama officially canceled a Bush-era deal that would have placed a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Obama must have been wearing George Bush's presidential knee pads when he met Putin.
Back to Obama's diplomatic coup on the Russian overflights to Afghanistan. Let's check it out and see how it is going.
Russian Deal on Afghan Supply Route Not a Deal Yet
By PETER BAKER NY Times
Published: November 13, 2009
WASHINGTON — When he met President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in April, President Obama sought to open an important new supply corridor for Afghanistan by flying American troops and weapons through Russian airspace. Visiting Moscow in July, he sealed a deal for as many as 4,500 flights a year, in what he called a “substantial contribution” to the war and a sign of improving relations with Russia.
Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era. Go to the Blog »
Seven months after the idea was raised and four months after the agreement was signed, the number of American flights that have actually traversed Russian airspace?
One. And that was for show.
The failure so far to translate words into reality amid bureaucratic delays, including one involving a Russian agency insisting on charging air navigation fees that the Kremlin had said would be waived, underscores the challenges of Mr. Obama’s effort to transform ties between Washington and Moscow. For all of the lofty sentiments expressed at high-profile summit meetings, actual change has never been easy to deliver.
The need to break through the logjam will soon take on fresh urgency if Mr. Obama decides to deploy tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan. For eight years, the American military has struggled to find and maintain reliable supply routes into Afghanistan, but Mr. Obama may send more troops in a single order than at any point in the war, straining the system.
Because of the difficulties in getting supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, the new Russian air corridor “would be fairly important,” said Ronald E. Neumann, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. “This doesn’t answer the question of how much we’ll be able to rely on the Russian connection, and that will be a big part of how much of a difference it can make.”
Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who has advised Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, said the United States “needs as many options as it can get” to send troops and equipment.
“There is no way to predict how reliable any given route will be during a war that seems nearly certain to last for three to four more years,” he said. “There is no way to guarantee Pakistani stability, and almost any major base could be the subject of a large-scale Taliban bombing. The U.S. can live without a Russian option, but it would be much better off with one.”
The uncertainty comes at a tenuous moment in Russian-American relations, as Mr. Obama seeks more support from the Kremlin in pressing Iran to scale back its nuclear program, and as the United States and Russia race to agree on a new nuclear arms treaty before the current one expires Dec. 5.
The problems with opening the air corridor as part of a so-called northern distribution network stem from a variety of technical issues that American officials are working to resolve, among them a dispute over who will pay. Under the pact that Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev sealed in July, the Russians agreed to waive air navigation fees typically charged for right of passage and air traffic control.
American officials said the new route would save $133 million a year in fuel, maintenance and other costs. But the Russian agency that collects the navigation fees has so far refused to exempt the Americans.
The Obama administration is sending a technical team to Moscow to try to work out what standards should apply to the flights, and spokesmen for the two governments played down the problem.
“We are working through procedural delays on the Russian side and hope to begin regular flights soon,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.
Aleksei Pavlov, a spokesman for Mr. Medvedev, said the Kremlin had every intention of fulfilling the agreement. “We are eager to resolve this issue in the nearest future,” he said.
But such seemingly minor complications have bollixed Russian-American agreements before. President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin agreed in 1998 to open a joint early warning center in Moscow, where Russian and American personnel would work side by side to detect missile launches and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to accidental war.
Their successors renewed the agreement, but the center has been delayed for 11 years amid disputes over issues like construction liability. Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev vowed to try again last summer, but in the latest holdup, the Russians have delayed allowing American inspectors into the country to examine the still unopened facility.
The idea of sending American forces through Russia to a war zone is fraught with a complicated history and mutual suspicion. For years, the idea was out of the question. Then in 2008, Russia agreed to open a land corridor, but only for nonlethal supplies.
The agreement to allow American troops and weapons to fly over the territory of Russia, its onetime cold war enemy, was seen as a symbolic breakthrough as much as a logistical one, and administration officials argued that it was a triumph even if no planes actually ever used the route. Still, just as some people in Moscow appear apprehensive about American forces in their airspace, some American officials are wary of putting too much faith in the Russians, who could easily close down the corridor if political tension rises again.
The latest transit agreement formally went into effect Sept. 4. A week later, the Pentagon sent Moscow a general description of cargo and personnel that would be shipped under the agreement, as well as the regular destinations of the planes, according to an administration official. The Russians accepted the request, and the two sides arranged for a single test flight on Oct. 8, just before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Moscow.
But the dispute over the air transit fees has yet to be solved, complicated by whether the planes used will be American military craft or contracted civilian planes. Moreover, the American side is still working to amend its overflight agreements with Poland and Kazakhstan so the flights can traverse those countries as well.
Administration officials said that they remained confident these issues could be worked out, and that they had requested a second test flight to try to advance the program. They said that they did not expect Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev to talk about the issue when the presidents meet in Singapore on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, but that they hoped to resolve it at lower levels.
Clifford J. Levy contributed reporting from Moscow.