MUNICH American Vice President Joe Biden arrived here just after midnight and when he speaks later today at the city’s annual Security Conference, the contours of a new US foreign policy should emerge.
All eyes will be on Biden’s meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. Relations are cool between Moscow and Washington and recent moves by the Russians have done nothing to suggest that they’ll get better anytime soon, despite what the spin doctors say. The good cop/bad cop double-act of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin has recently produced a series of security initiatives that seem designed to provoke and confuse the new Obama administration.
The duo began by leaking details of naval and air bases to be established on the shores of the Black Sea in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia. Then they signed an air defence treaty with the former Soviet republic of Belarus, clearing the way for an anti-missile defence system to counter one planned by the Bush administration across the border in Poland. Moscow also appears to have “persuaded” the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan to expel the US from its air base at Manas, outside Bishkek, in exchange for €1.6 billion in financial aid.
As well, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (the Collective Security Treaty Organisation) have agreed to form a “rapid reaction force” which is intended to match the corresponding force operated by NATO.
So, over to you, Mr Biden.