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The Cold War Report January 26, 2008
Russia and the West in the Year of the Rat
By Alexander Zaitchik Browse author Email
Page 3 of 3


As this goes to press, the third Russian shipment of fuel rods is arriving in Iran and all the big foreign ministers are planning another meeting in Berlin to talk sanctions. Tehran, meanwhile, is not only continuing to build Bushehr, but is planning to build 20 nuclear power stations. Then there are Russia's billion dollar-plus advanced weapons sales to Tehran. But there just isn't much Washington can do or say about any of it. There were rumors after Putin's Caspian Sea summit sit down with the Ayatollah that the two were going to announce some sort of mutual defense pact, but that didn't happen. Will Russia go to the mat over Iran in '08 if the Bushies want to go out with a bang? Who knows, but we can't help but remember that in the British nuclear war film Threads, the war between NATO and Russia starts with a crisis in Iran that looks a lot like the one the folks at RAND are probably war gaming these days.

Conventional Forces Treaty

Moving into '08, the West still hasn't ratified the new version of the CFE treaty, citing Russian troops in Transdnestr, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Russia says the issues are unrelated and the West must sign the amended treaty before it rejoins the fold. Nobody on either side is rushing to do anything about the stalemate. It'll be a while before there are any serious practical effects in terms of tanks and troop movements, but one day we'll all see the collapse of the CFE for the catastrophe it is. The new inspection season starts in March; expect the West to ask for Russia's forces data and for Moscow to do nothing. Prediction: Unmoved chains and more shrugs in '08.

Transdnestr, Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Will '08 be the year the "frozen conflicts" of the ex-bloc thaw into a muddy geopolitical shit stew? Will Kosovo be the trigger? Will Boney M. be sent back to provide a disco soundtrack to UN-brokered peace talks? Will Russia withdraw troops from these uppity breakaways in exchange for Western ratification of the amended CFE Treaty? Does anyone really give a shit?

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Alexander Zaitchik is an editor at The eXile. Email him at

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