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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Only days after Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met in Washington with President Obama, the FBI accused 11 people of being Russian agents. The charges include money laundering, conspiracy and failing to register as agents of a foreign government, but do not include espionage. The FBI has been tracking the alleged spies since 2003, though many of the spies have been in the US since the 1990s.

The need for increased vigilance towards Russia’s spy program was brought up at Monday night’s Council program with Georgia’s Ambassador to the US, Batu Kutelia. He noted the weekend’s 11 arrests and said, “This same case happened in Georgia five or six years ago and at that time I was head of our foreign intelligence service and when we intercepted and arrested this, most of the world accused us, Georgia, of being too provocative towards Russia. But now it appears that the same activities are happening in a different part of the world and the intention of modernizing Russia is really good, but if they continue with business as usual, there could very different consequences for them as well.” To listen to the entire program with Ambassador Kutelia, please visit our online audio archive.

To learn more about Russia’s history of espionage the US, read this article from the New York Times. For more information about the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus, read this article from the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

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This Monday, June 28, the Council is honored to host His Excellency Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, for a discussion of the state of bilateral relations and importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus. The visit follows the Council of Europe’s Parliament overwhelming approval of a draft resolution condemning Russia’s policy in the North Caucasus, the same week that the Russian president is touring the United States. To register for the program with Ambassador Kutelia, visit the Council’s website.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, at the invitation of President Obama, traveled to the US on Tuesday to meet with business and political leaders in California and Washington, DC. Medvedev, who hopes to create a new technology mecca in Russia, made stops in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where he met with industry executives. Tomorrow he will travel to Washington to discuss the expansion of the economic relationship between Russia and the United States, which has largely been on hold since Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008. To learn more about Medvedev’s trip to Washington, read this article in the New York Times.

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Yesterday’s bombing in the Moscow subway brought renewed focus to the Caucasus, in the southern part of the Russian Federation, as officials expressed suspicions that the suicide bombers were from the area. While Georgia is not implicated, it shares a border with the area of the Russian Federation from where many militants have come in the past, including Abkhazia, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Ossetia. Learn more about Georgia, the state of bilateral relations and the importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus in June, when the World Affairs Council hosts H.E. Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Canada and Mexico.

For more information on Russian concern of spreading guerrilla warfare, read this article from the New York Times.

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The World Affairs Council was honored to host the President of Kosovo, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, on January 12. As the leader of the world’s youngest country, Dr. Sejdiu is optimistic about Kosovo’s future, but also recognizes the many challenges it faces. Regionally, Kosovo is challenged by Serbia’s continued refusal to acknowledge the state’s independence. Globally, Kosovo has only been recognized by 65 of the 192 sovereign UN member states, including the United States and 22 of the 27 European Union member states; notably absent from this group are Spain, Russia and China. As Kosovo’s second anniversary approaches, the president ended on a positive note: “We can’t forget, but we can move forward!”

To listen to the entire program with President Sejdiu, please visit our online archive. To read about the latest country to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Mauritania, click here, and to learn more about the Serbian position, read the recent New York Times interview with Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, joined the Council last week to present the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2009. Released earlier this month, the report examines two scenarios: the Reference Scenario and the 450 Scenario. The first tracks changes in world energy supply and demand if government policies do not change, while the second shows what would happen were governments to dramatically alter their carbon emissions so that the level of carbon in the atmosphere is 450 parts per million (ppm). Ambassador Jones acknowledged the difficulty and cost of making the 450 scenario a reality, but said that we must aim for it nonetheless. Energy efficiency, using less energy to do the same amount of work, will be key and, he believes, a price is going to have to be put on carbon. He ended the presentation with positive news. Although China, Russia, and India are not members of the OECD or the IEA, they have been working with the International Energy Agency for the last few years to bring their policies and practices closer to those of its member states.

To listen to the entire presentation, visit our online audio archive.

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The construction of the Nabucco pipeline, slated for completion in 2012, is part of the effort to reduce European dependence on Russian gas amid concerns and fears that Russia, the supplier of between 30 and 40% of Europe’s natural gas, will use its economic leverage for political gains. However, recent developments in Turkmenistan, China, Iran, Turkey, and Europe itself, raise many questions and uncertainties regarding the future of the Nabucco pipeline. What are the new implications of and aims for building such a pipeline? Is continued construction necessary? What are the benefits and dangers of using the Nabucco pipeline—or rather the promise of its discontinuation—as a political bargaining chip? Steve LeVine, foreign affairs and energy correspondent for BusinessWeek and author of The Oil and the Glory and Putin’s Labyrinth, joined the Council and the Young Professionals International Forum (IF) last night to share his thoughts and insights into pipeline politics and Russia’s new energy diplomacy. Full program recordings will be available soon at our online archive. 

For more on pipeline politics, check out this article from Deutsche Welle on the recently signed agreement between Russia and Turkey to build the South Stream pipeline, a new rival to the Nabucco pipeline.

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Poland’s Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski joined the Council Wednesday night for our fourth Guggenhime Speaker Event of 2009 to address his nation’s role in the changing geopolitics of Europe and abroad. Minister Sikorski described Poland’s transition from the events of 1989 to a modern democratic nation, a member of NATO and of the European Union. A leader in Polish and European affairs, Minister Sikorski also provided great insights, debunking some common misconceptions about the workings of the European Union. Finally, Minister Sikorski discussed the history of warm bilateral relations and current cooperation between the United States and Poland, highlighting issues of security and democratization and emphasizing Poland’s continued support for the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq. For more on Polish, European, and transatlantic politics, as well as thoughts on NATO, Russia, and democratization, watch or listen to full recordings of this program with Radoslaw Sikorski at our online archive.

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