Dick Cheney’s Overseas Trip Falls Flat

US Vice President Dick Cheney sees Russia as a threat to global democracy. He made this point clear in a speech made in northern Italy fresh from a tour of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

Addressing a gathering of politicians and businessmen from around the world meeting at Cernobbio, Dick Cheney focused on Russia’s recent conflict with Georgia casting Moscow as a “brutal regime” that aims to recapture its Soviet-era dominance. He accused Russia of attacking Georgia without providing any credible explanations of its decision to violate the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation. Therefore, Mr. Cheney said, NATO should keep expanding east and Russia should refrain from doing anything that might slow down this enlargement process.

Mr. Cheney also criticized Moscow for its military-technical cooperation with Syria and Iran. He said Russia was trying to regain its Soviet-time clout adding that the USSR was “evil and a threat to freedom.”

The American Vice President’s tour of the three former Soviet republics was meant to demonstrate Washington’s unconditional support for Georgia and a desire to ensure security in the Caucasus region.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not comment on Mr. Cheney’s statements saying he was not keeping track of trips made by foreign politicians. The Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev was more vocal though saying that Cheney’s visits to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine were apparently meant to instill in these countries’ leaders confidence that America was foursquare on their side. Dick Cheney’s visit to Azerbaijan reportedly fell flat after President Ilham Aliyev did not offer to the US guest a warm reception, hinting that Baku was not intending to support the idea of retracting energy carriers' flows bypassing Russia. In Baku Mr. Cheney assured the Azeri leader of Washington’s firm support for the construction Nabucco and other pipelines going around Russia only to be told that, honored as he was by America’s friendship, President Aliyev was in no mood whatsoever to fall out with Russia.

Shortly after Dick Cheney’s plane took off, President Aliyev had a telephone talk with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the timetable of their future meetings.

[Source: By Mike Sullivan, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 09Sep08]

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