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Them Russkis, gotta love 'em

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday July 26, 2006 09:00 PM

Just when you thought the world was safely unipolar --

Chavez in Russia:

The visit by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Russia is taking the media by storm, with one news agency reporting he has attracted much attention with his "emotional and spontaneous behaviour".

"He calls Christ the first socialist in the world; George Bush an alcoholic; pro-Washington Latin American presidents poodles of imperialism", writes Andrey Yashlavskiy in the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.

.... The Kommersant daily prefers to concentrate on the political dimension to the visit, during which Mr Chavez is expected to sign arms deals.

"Venezuela gets armed with Russia" write Mikhail Zygar and Tatyana Dmitriyeva.

"Moscow expects bumper arms contracts from the visit," they say, while Venezuela's eyes are on "setting up an anti-American oil bloc".

"Thus Moscow, which has just hosted the G8 summit, shows once again that, when the chance comes, it may respond to criticism from the West by making a sharp U-turn towards the West's foes."

Putin and another archfiend:
President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have discussed the Lebanon crisis and tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme, the Kremlin said.

The two leaders spoke by telephone yesterday, a brief statement said. Ahmadinejad arrived yesterday in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan for a two-day visit.

.... Ahmadinejad warned yesterday that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel could trigger “a hurricane” of broader fighting in the Middle East.

.... The Bushehr nuclear plant that is at the centre of the controversy over whether Iran intends to build nuclear weapons is Russian-built.

Russia, as UN Security Council member with veto power, has resisted Western proposals to slap Iran with sanctions....

Russia also has stepped up efforts in recent months to exert influence in the Middle East, including contacts with Hamas after the militant group won Palestinian elections.

It hosted a high-level Hamas delegation at Putin’s invitation in March, when Moscow broke ranks with other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast negotiators but failed to persuade the militant group to soften its anti-Israel stance and renounce its goal to seek Israel’s destruction.

Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said this month that Russia was using its contacts with radical Muslims, including Hamas, to try to promote a resolution of the escalating confrontation.

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