Related: Obama mulls giving Moscow data on missile defense
Washington Free Beacon…
CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller tweeted Friday that President Obama called Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin from Air Force One to congratulate him on his victory in the 2012 Russian presidential race. According to Knoller at 11:26 AM:
Pres. Obama phoning congratulations from AF-1 to Pres-elect Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Putin’s political opponents have accused the Russian prime minister and president-elect of engaging in voter fraud to win the 2012 race, leading to protests this week in Moscow. Putin himself acknowledged “irregularities” suggesting voter fraud in the election, but claimed that they were too small to influence the election results.
(Reuters) – Vladimir Putin won a resounding victory in Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, securing a new six-year term in the Kremlin and a mandate to deal with opposition protests after a vote that opponents said was marred by fraud.
Two television exit polls, released after voting ended at 1700 GMT, forecast the former KGB spy would win 59.3 and 58.3 percent of the votes, enough to make a runoff against the second-placed candidate unnecessary.
From Joel C. Rosenberg…
The media is fixated on the GOP primaries and the American presidential campaign and giving scant attention to Russia’s upcoming election on Sunday, March 4th. But the Russian vote may prove to be a bigger deal than our own. Here’s why:
- Though protests movements against Vladimir Putin throughout Russia in recent months suggest a growing number of Russians finally see the former KGB chief for what he is — a thug and a bully – polls still suggest he is expected to win handily. If those polls are right and Putin does, in fact, reemerge as president then let’s be clear: we will be watching a new Czar rising, a tyrant who will rule with an iron hand over his own people, and look to project Russian power elsewhere in the world. Putin has, for example, drawn sharp criticism from Mikhail Gorbachev who says Putin’s political party is a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party: anti-freedom and corrupt.
From Joel C. Rosenberg…
Make no mistake: the Russian-Iranian strategic alliance that I’ve been writing about for the last several years has deepened to the point where Moscow is now unequivocally and quite openly backing the mullahs in Iran. “Russia warned Israel on Wednesday that attacking Iran would be a disastrous and played down the failure of a U.N. nuclear agency mission to Tehran, saying there is still a chance for new talks over the Iranian atomic programme,” reports Reuters. “‘Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations,’ Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told a news conference. It was one of Russia’s starkest warnings against resorting to force, an option Israel and the United States have not ruled out if they conclude that diplomacy and increasing sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. ’I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves,’ Gatilov said. ‘I hope a realistic approach will prevail, along with a sensible assessment.’”
Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, who seems set to become president in March. Photograph: Reuters
As prime minister for the past four years, Vladimir Putin never really went away. But his looming reincarnation as the all-powerful, executive president of Russia – the country’s “paramount leader” in Chinese parlance – poses a stark challenge for which the US, Britain and other beleaguered western powers seem ill-prepared. As president, potentially until 2024, Putin has one overriding objective: the creation of a third, post-tsarist, post-Soviet Russian empire.