Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hazard this prognostication

Given the degree of anti-Semitism espoused by more nationalist Russians - traditionally, through the Soviet period, and right up to today - this is interesting: JERUSALEM -- Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Israel at the end of April, the first visit ever by a Russian leader to the Jewish state, Israeli officials said Tuesday. Israeli-Russian relations have improved greatly in the past 15 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, which supported Israel's Arab enemies. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is of Russian descent, has visited Moscow three times since taking office in 2001. Sharon, who learned Russian from his parents, has spoken with Putin on the phone. I suppose it sounds friendly enough. On the other hand, Russia is still looking for new client states, with the continued turning of the Near Abroad (those former Soviet constituent republics, formerly parts of Imperial Russia before that) to Europe and the west in general. It's too early to know if this is a benign gesture, or pure geopolitical strategizing.

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