north caucasus

post-soviet round-up, russians in the arctic and pirates

Georgia hasn’t really stabilized yet:

And Russia’s got trouble of its own just across the Caucasus:

Doesn’t stop the Russians from looking north, though:

Since I’m doing world politics tonight, I’ll take up my sadly neglected duty of telling you everything that happened with pirates. Did I even mention last week that the MV Faina was released? That’s the ship that was carrying tanks and other weapons to Kenya, although the arms are widely thought to have been intended for a Sudanese faction.

According to David Musila, Assistant Minister for Defense, the military equipment will be off-loaded from the ship starting on Friday.

The military equipment, he said, will be delivered by rail to the Kahawa Garrison before transportation to the Armor Brigade in Isiolo in northern Kenya.

“We shall invite the media to witness this process,” Musila said, adding that this will convince those people that have doubted that the cargo was meant for Kenya.

The U.S. and Russian navies joined forces today in the Gulf of Aden in an extraordinary and spontaneous display of counter-piracy cooperation and high-seas diplomacy. The U.S.-guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf and the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov launched a coordinated military response to a distress call from a Panamanian cargo ship, which reported it was about to be attacked by pirates.

But before anyone gets too excited about their antipiracy patrols:

Among the litany of booby traps left by the Bush administration for the Obama team, Somalia could be one of the most complicated and bizarre.

The crisis there is also an opportunity, however, as one of the main obstacles to all-party peace talks was the Bush administration’s cynical and unrealistic refusal to talk to the most powerful insurgent groups in Somalia because of their alleged association with terrorism. The Obama administration, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing is any indication, also views the Horn of Africa in the context of terrorism.

Nevertheless, Obama has also talked of his preference for diplomatic solutions. Somalia would be an ideal place to test his diplomacy.

world news

I’m busy packing tonight, so here’s a quick crawl through the post-soviet periphery and a couple other things.

post-soviet blues

Russia to move missiles to Baltic

Ukraine reverses ban on Russian TV channel
South-East Ukraine Refused to Disconnect Russia’s TV Channels

Ukraine Hasn’t Breached International Laws When Supplying Weapons to Georgia

Georgia’s Saakashvili sacks military chief
Georgian Cluster Bombs Killed Civilians: Report
Ossetians fiercely resisted Georgian invasion

“The Georgians were in their tanks with the hatches down, driving on streets which they did not recognize,” said Vitaly, a 32-year-old policeman-reservist who was wounded during the recent fighting. “We live in this city all of our lives; we know every alley, every sewer, every hiding place. They could have been here for 10 years and they could not crush the resistance.”

Spiral of violence cripples Russia’s Ingushetia
Russia replaces Ingushetia leader

Kazakhstan starts transporting oil by Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
EU energy chief toTurkey for Nabucco pipeline talks

the usual global politics

Pirates Seize Crew of French Boat at Cameroon Rig
Piracy Attacks Boost Demand for Kidnap & Ransom Coverage

“Traditional marine cover will meet the cost of the ransom but none of the costs involved in the process. What we’ve found is the ransom can account for just 25 percent to 30 percent of the costs of the incident. Where K&R cover goes above the traditional marine policies is that it will become involved from the moment a vessel is seized.

Saakashvili Denies Georgian War Crimes During South Ossetia War
The truth about South Ossetia
Return a long way off for many Georgian refugees
Georgians Contemplate Future Five Years After Rose Revolution

Russian forces should withdraw from Moldova: Nato

“I sincerely hope on the basis on the principles we all agreed upon (in Istanbul) … a solution can be found,” the Nato chief said during a brief visit to Moldova. Trans-Dniester broke away in 1992 after a bloody war with Moldova that left more than 1,500 people dead. Russia maintains about 1,500troops and an unknown amount of light weapons in Trans-Dniester, despite calls by the United States and the European Union to respect the 1999 pledge to withdraw them.

Leader of troubled southern Russian republic quits
Ukraine says Russia pushing it out of arms market

Union for the Black Sea May Be Established in 2009

The New Cold War: Reviving the U.S. Presence in the Arctic

assorted post-soviet conflicts

Leaving aside Georgia, Ukraine and the Black Sea, which will get their own round-up soon, here’s a bunch of news from the former Soviet periphery.

Start with this one. It hasn’t gotten any play, but it could be a pretty big deal.
Russia envoy warns NATO on air space to Afghanistan
Look at a map. See if you can cobble together a supply line that doesn’t use Russian airspace. You can do it, but it’s not easy. I mean yeah, you can go through Pakistan, but that’s hardly what you’d call stable. Not to mention being completely out of the way.

I guess the Russians had nothing to do with this one, at least:
Clashes mar Bosnia’s first gay festival

NATO to assist UN, EU in Kosovo’s tense north

Bosnia: Serb leader says breakup of country ‘not a tragedy’
Bosnia: Muslim leader’s UN speech sparks controversy
Last Serb move may tear Bosnia, says Envoy

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has repeatedly threatened the secession of the Serb Republic from Bosnia if the Muslim leaders continued to question the republic’s legitimacy.

Dodik had said that the disintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina, torn by internal disputes between its Muslims, Serbs and Croat population, would not be a tragedy.

“I have no emotional attachment to Bosnia-Herzegovina, nor do I love it,” he said. “I’m emotionally very attached to the RS and believe it can function,” said bosnian Serb Leader Dodik told told Radio Free Europe.

Russia’s Northern Fleet joins Russia-Belarus war games

Nagorno-Karabakh is another frozen conflict that’s starting to thaw. I’m sure US assistance will help promote a peaceful resolution.
US to help solve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

And these are approaching their shelf life, but are still a useful reminder of what’s up in the North Caucasus:
16 die in clashes in Russia’s volatile Caucasus
Ingushetia abuses ‘may spark war’

the news- back on schedule for now

Giant ice penis – is climate change to blame?

And related to the monkey-hugging story we saw the other day:
Stroking reveals pleasure nerve

Somali pirates release German, Japanese ships: maritime group

“We have reports that they brought ransom and were coordinating its payment,” he added.

Sources close to the pirates in the northern Somali breakaway state of Puntland told AFP that a ransom of 1.5 million dollars was paid for the Japanese vessel but the information could not immediately be confirmed.

NASA Mars Rover Update: Farewell, “Victoria”!
Ares I Passes Critical Design Review In preparation For 2015 Space Mission

Conflict fear over Arctic borders

Russian troops dismantle west Georgia checkpoints
War wounds Georgia economy
Looting, fires rage in S. Ossetia – rights groups

“Currently the (ethnic) Georgian villages we visited…are practically burnt to the ground. Now, a month after military operations, the final houses are being torched, and every day we saw new fires.”

Separatists in Russia see hope in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Russia slams ‘unfriendly’ Ukraine
Ukrainian PM questioned over president poisoning
Ukraine in suspense over Tymoshenko’s Nato position

For its part, the Kremlin appears in the mood to deal. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been travelling in Central Asia to bolster support for Russia and in addition to agreeing to up the price of Central Asian oil and gas, also signed off on new pipeline deals. The Kremlin would certainly be open to softening a price hike in Ukraine’s gas bill if Tymoshenko would back Russia in its standoff with the West.

Russia and Turkey tango in the Black Sea
Kyiv to host Black Sea Fleet talks September 25 – 26

news- hugs, pot and pirates

I’m feeling like a hippie today, so I’ll start you off with these two:

Hugging benefits fractious chimps

Supermarket seeds lead to pot plant

Danny Williams said his young daughter, Lois, planted seeds from a bag of health food mix that was purchased at a store in Huyton and now a healthy marijuana plant sits in their backyard, the Liverpool Echo said Friday.

Unidentified warship captures 14 Somali pirates
3 ships thwart attacks by pirates off Somalia
Yemen to set anti-piracy center, US offers help
Denmark deters pirates off Gulf of Aden

Russia’s new Arctic station
In Canada the Arctic is winning issue
Artic Regulations Need Makeover

Nabucco pipeline ‘on track’ despite Georgia-Russia conflict – CEO
Russia aims to ‘corner’ energy market: US official
Storm Warning: Ike’s Impact Could Go Far Beyond Hurricane Season

The real problem is that thanks to hurricanes, the Gulf of Mexico will never live up to its promise as a mother lode of U.S. domestic oil production, leaving the country even more vulnerable to imports. Then the question becomes—imports from where?

Ukraine prime minister summoned by prosecutors

TROUBLE IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS: Russia’s Restless Muslim Republics

OSCE Report: Poor rule of law still plagues Kosovo

Georgian president vows to reclaim 2 provinces
Russians ‘agree Georgia deadline’
Russia, Georgia dispute in UN court
Should Georgia Become a Black Sea Hezbollah?