John McCain, R-Ariz., fired back Thursday with his own op-ed in the Russian paper Pravda , entitled, “Russia Deserves Better Than Putin.” Even Monday’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, in which a gunmen killed 12 people, has become part of the feud. Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Russia’s parliament, used the shooting to mock the United States as it was happening. “A new shootout at Navy headquarters in Washington a a lone gunman and seven corpses. Nobody’s even surprised anymore. A clear confirmation of American exceptionalism,” Puskoy tweeted. N NNNN N NN NN – NNN 7 NNN. N N N. N NN “N.NNZNNNNN” N YNN (@Alexey_Pushkov) September 16, 2013 But while Pushkov sneers at U.S. gun laws, how do the stats look in Russia? According to Gunpolicy.org , Russians have far fewer guns than Americans a and far more homicides. There are fewer than 13 million firearms in circulation in Russia, compared with an estimated 300 million in the United States. That works out to about 9 guns per 100 people in Russia and closed to 100 guns per 100 people in America.
Russia seeks to derail Ukraine’s trade deal with E.U., deploying taunts and insults
Azarov and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have said they intend to sign with the E.U. in November, but they have a way of hedging every statement. Its a momentous choice. Ukraine has the chance to opt for a road that in theory would extend European values of transparency and the rule of law far to the east. Or it can join Russia in a financial and cultural zone that is increasingly defining itself as separate from the West and not answerable to Western norms. As a nation of 46 million, Ukraine would be a significant addition to Putins Eurasian Union. If Ukraine is to sign what is called an association agreement with the E.U., dismantling most trade barriers, it will have to pursue far-reaching legal reforms and renounce the sort of selective justice that has landed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other political opponents of the current government in prison. Yanukovych said Friday that he wants to release her, as Europe demands, but just cant seem to find the legal means to do so. His opponents charge that hes also reluctant to tackle the countrys endemic corruption. Total corruption has eaten the country today, said Vitali Klitschko, a boxing champion who heads the UDAR opposition party. Signing the association agreement is a vital step toward rooting it out, he said. If Yanukovych fails to meet the E.U.s terms and the agreement falls through, Klitschko asked the president to his face, Will you have the guts to resign? Russias abrasive tactics Theres another factor. Ukraines trade volumes with Russia and with the E.U.
SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH RUSSIA’S EYES
One respected analyst, Igor Rotar, wrote in his blog recently that the Kremlin has made so many concessions to the Chechnya area of the Caucasus, after the two bitter wars fought there in the ’90s, that the region is now establishing what is a “de facto Islamic state with clear signs of an eastern despotism.” As always in this region, which has more history than it can possibly digest, the writer compares the Kremlin’s relations with Chechnya today to those of tsarist Russia with the Emirate of Bukhara. In that time, the emir was allowed by Moscow to do what he wanted within that territory so long as he showed his loyalty to then Imperial Russia. Much of this information, which is hard to find in the American press, comes from the meticulous reading of Russian papers and journals by Paul Goble, formerly leading Sovietologist from Radio Free Europe and the State Department, who now resides in Virginia and is one of the world’s greatest specialists on the Soviet Union and Russia. Back to the area. Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov is an admittedly odd fellow whose pictures on the Web show him riding a “lone wolf,” which tellingly is the official animal of his land, cuddling a young tiger in his lap and pointing a gun at his own head. Somehow the money sent to Chechnya to rebuild has ended up in beautiful horses that he loves to race in Dubai. He came to power after his father, a Russian implant, was assassinated, and he still has supposedly good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But it is an ambiguous friendship, as he has pushed the Islamist Grozny mosque as a symbol of the Orthodox Russian Federation and sought to spread his Muslim faith to other parts of the Russian federation. But while Russia’s fear of the peoples of the Caucasus is extreme — Moscow has fought war after war with them, and sent many into bitter exile farther to the east under Stalin — that fear, especially of Islam, is growing. Some thoughtful analysts, like foreign policy specialist Ilan Berman, point out, as he does in his new book “Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America,” that the Slavic population of Russia could be down to only 25 percent by 2020. And others say that Muslims will be the dominant group, if only because of their huge birth rate, by 2050. But on the other side, some argue that today’s 7 million to 9 million observant Muslims (not counting the numbers of nonobservant, which is not available) could hardly reproduce that quickly.