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RUSSIA and the West

Two Reuters dispatches (1/15/03) indicate that Russia is determined to assert its rights in its own backyard, to use an American expression. The first implies that a confrontation might take place in the Persian Gulf. "Russia deploys warships to Gulf" begins: "A Russian military source said on Monday that Moscow was preparing to dispatch two battleships to the Gulf in late February to "secure Russia's national interests". Interfax news agency quoted an anonymous source with Russia's Pacific Fleet staff as saying that two anti-submarine warfare ships were being readied for the region, where the US has been massing troops for a possible attack on Iraq. "We are talking about the large anti-submarine warships "Admiral Panteleyev" and "Marshal Shaposhnikov"," the source said. The two vessels and a fuel barge were due to leave their base in Vladivostok in the second half of February. A navy spokesman in Moscow said he could neither confirm nor deny the report, but was skeptical about any such operation".

The second dispatch, titled "Russia won't extend OSCE's Chechen mission", shows the limits of its cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: "Russia has cut off further talks with the West on keeping human rights monitors from the pan-European OSCE security watchdog in its rebel Chechnya province, Russian diplomats said. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are due to leave Chechnya after Moscow refused to renew the mission's mandate at the end of last year".

Ronald Hilton - 1/16/03