Both Russian and foreign media outlets comment on Dmitry Medvedev’s annual address to the nation, which he delivered November 5. Russia’s competition with the United States on the financial market with the expected victory of the ruble over the dollar as the regional currency became the official doctrine for the development of the Russian financial market, the Kommersant wrote. Medvedev particularly stated in his speech that Russia should sell its crude and natural gas for rubles, not US dollars.
The economic part of the address took less than ten percent of the entire speech. The president started his speech by drawing parallels between the war in South Ossetia and financial problems in the United States . He connected the most significant economic issues (the world financial crisis, the growth of the ruble rate in the international trade, suggestions for the forthcoming G20 summit) with Russia ’s foreign political strategy.
“One should take practical steps to strengthen the ruble as one of the currencies for international settlement and finally launch ruble-based settlement for gas and crude,” Medvedev said.
Both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have been propagandizing the idea for the Russian ruble to become a regional currency since the beginning of this year. In October Putin put forward a suggestion to begin the mutual trade in rubles with Belarus, China and Vietnam. Similar suggestions were made to Ukraine, Moldova, Mongolia and Ukraine in the summer of 2008.
In the meantime, Western media perceived the political part of Medvedev’s address as hostile criticism. Many newspapers wrote that Medvedev attempted to warn US President-elect Barack Obama against the deployment of the missile defense system in Europe. Foreign journalists were surprised with Medvedev’s suggestion to extend the presidential term in Russia from four to six years. It is worthy of note that Putin was strongly against making any constitutional changes at this point.
Medvedev became the first world leader to throw down a gauntlet to Barack Obama, The Financial Times wrote. Medvedev stated that Russia intended to deploy a missile complex in the Kaliningrad region, near Poland’s borders, in response to USA’s plans to deploy the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. As for the extension of presidential powers, Vladimir Putin used to be strongly against such an opportunity. Russia’s new plans, the newspaper wrote, will become a challenge for the new American leader, who inherits the strained relations with Russia.
Official spokespeople for the Kremlin administration said that the proposed change would not be applied to Medvedev’s current term in the office, which made many experts believe that Putin intends to return to the Kremlin for a long time.
The Washington Post wrote that Russia began its dialogue with Barack Obama in an aggressive way. Obama approves the creation of the missile defense system, albeit he criticizes the Bush’s administration for exaggerating the abilities of the system and for making hasty decisions at this point.
Russia’s Iskander missile complexes in the Kaliningrad region will be capable of striking the territories of NATO members, including Poland, the newspaper wrote.
Medvedev welcomed Obama’s victory with anti-American remarks, Belgian newspapers said. The Russian leader particularly accused the US administration of the mistakes which resulted in the global financial crisis and the conflict in Georgia, Le Soir said.
Iskander missile systems are short range (up to 280 kilometers) rockets capable of targeting aircraft, communication facilities, and enemy’s weapons sources. The flight path of a guided rocket of the system can be very hard to predict and thus possesses excellent maneuvering capabilities. The complex can attack two absolutely different targets with the interval of only one minute.
Furthermore, a part of Russia’s Baltic Fleet can be involved to degrade US missile bases in Poland and the radar station in the Czech Republic. Russia can also take electronic counter measures in the Kaliningrad enclave against the US missile defense system.
Dmitry Medvedev emphasized in his televised address that Russia would be forced to take such measures because “they do not want to listen to us to our great disappointment.”