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Russia's Short Shadows of Glasnost

Doug Farah writes on Russia's New Efforts to Arm State Sponsors of Terrorism over with our friends at the Counterterrorism Blog. It is well worth your reading time today, and another indicator for those who may harbor hopeful doubt that Russia is indeed an American enemy.

I am not a Russia expert, but it is clear that the Putin-led government is going out of its way to antagonize the United States and its allies. One of the primary, and most dangerous methods, is the sale of billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry to state sponsors of terrorism, particularly Iran and Venezuela.

These just happen to be the two states most intent on inflicting as much harm as possible on the United States and its allies, as well as the two governments funding the unrest that has pushed Bolivia to the brink of civil war and actions that are turning Nicaragua into the pariah state.

As the Times of London notes,the sales include anti-aircraft missiles and top of the line fighter jets, due in production in 2010.

It is interesting to note that Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Sechin is widely reported to be the main backer of Viktor Bout, the notorious weapons trafficker in prison in Thailand, awaiting an extradition hearing next week to determine if he will be handed over to the United States to stand trial.

(In an ominous sign that Bout's extradition will not be approved, the Thai appellate court, for the first time this week, rejected a U.S. extradition request. This one was for Jamshid Ghassemi, an Iranian indicted in the United States for acquiring dual-use equipment and accelerometers for Iran's nuclear program. The court ruling gave no reasons for its decision, which is unappealable, and foul play is suspected.

There are several parallels to the Bout case, where the Russians have been offering large financial inducements, oil deals and preferential weapons deals in exchange for Bout's freedom. Another terrorist supplier under Russian protection.)

In the heat of the political season, which assures no shortage of rhetoric finding fault with American actions and causes first, it should be soberly acknowledged that these choices are Russia's and Russia's alone. Any assertion that American policy or leadership is the cause for Russia's continued embrace of Iran, Venezuela and Syria (among others) is both vapid and naive.

Remember, immediately after Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, Russia wanted to supply them with 50 armored personnel carriers and a pair of helicopters.