Friday, 9 May 2008

moscow: western policies may lead to world war

Russia puts on a Soviet show of might

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow

2:57 AM BST 10/05/2008

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s new president, delivered a coded rebuke to the West yesterday as Russia paraded its nuclear missiles through Red Square in a show of force not seen since Soviet times.
Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin watch the Victory
Parade in Moscow’s Red Square
Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin at the Victory Day
Thousands of Russians thronged the centre of Moscow to wallow in nostalgia for their superpower past as tanks rumbled through the streets.
On a day designed to send an unmistakably bellicose message to the West, Mr Medvedev launched a veiled attack on the United States, suggesting that its « irresponsible » foreign policy could lead to world war.
« The history of the world wars shows that armed conflicts do not erupt on their own, » Mr Medvedev told Russian troops in Red Square during his Victory Day address.
« They are fuelled by those whose irresponsible ambitions overpower the interests of countries and whole continents. »
Mr Medvedev also criticised countries that intruded in other states’ affairs, especially by redrawing their borders, comments seen as an attack on the West’s backing for Kosovo’s independence.
Russia, he warned, would respond to such interference extremely seriously.
« We cannot tolerate disrespect for international law, » he said.
The new leader’s comments appeared to bear the imprimatur of Vladimir Putin both in content and in style.
The former president – now prime minister – regularly attacked Western foreign policy in his Victory Day speeches. Last year he likened the US to the Third Reich.
Even if Mr Med­vedev’s speech was Putin-lite by comparison, it suggested that a less acerbic approach to the West was unlikely.
It was the first time he had touched on foreign policy since taking office on Wednesday.
It is unclear whether Mr Putin had a role in writing the speech, but throughout its delivery he stood over his protégé’s shoulder.
The parade itself was more in tune with the tastes of Mr Putin, a former KGB spy, than with those of Mr Medvedev, a 42-year-old former lawyer.
Since 1990, the focus of Victory Day, commemorated in Russia a day later than in Britain, has been one of quiet reflection for the more than 20 million Soviet lives lost in the Second World War.
This year’s parade, however, was designed more to evoke the Soviet Union’s past might and Russia’s military resurgence.
To resounding cheers, Russia’s newest intercontinental ballistic missiles joined ageing T-90 tanks that trundled across Red Square’s specially reinforced cobblestones.
Nuclear bombers and fighter jets roared above the Kremlin as 8,000 troops goose-stepped past St Basil’s Cathedral.
Despite the aggressive symbolism, the US reacted with insouciance.
« If they wish to take out their old equipment and take it for a spin, they’re more than welcome to do so, » a Pentagon spokesman said.

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