"Putin Accuses US of Sparking Arms Race," by Slobodan Lekic - AP (Munich, Germany), 11 February 2007
MUNICH, Germany - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday blamed U.S. policy for inciting other countries to seek nuclear weapons to defend themselves from an "almost uncontained use of military force" — a stinging attack that underscored growing tensions between Washington and Moscow.
"Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not solved a single problem, they have become a hotbed of further conflicts," Putin said at a security forum attracting senior officials from around the world.
"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way."...
In what the Russian leader's spokesman acknowledged was his harshest criticism of the United States, Putin attacked Bush's administration for stoking a new arms race by planning to deploy a missile defense system in eastern Europe and for backing a U.N. plan that would grant virtual independence to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo...
"Putin Accuses US of Making the World Unsafe," by Peter Spiegel (in Munich) - the Los Angeles Times, 11 February 2007
MUNICH, GERMANY — Russian President Vladimir V. Putin berated the United States in a major speech Saturday before senior American and European officials, declaring that Washington's militarism had fostered global instability and forced vulnerable nations to seek nuclear weapons.
In harsh language sometimes reminiscent of the Cold War and at other times pleading or mocking, Putin accused the United States of attempting to create a world in which it was free to ignore international law and impose its economic, political and military will.
"We are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper-use of military force in international relations," Putin said. "One country, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way."...
The speech was a first for a Russian president at the increasingly high-profile Munich Security Conference. It was delivered with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seated stoically in the front row flanked by a stone-faced congressional delegation led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, considered a leading candidate to be the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.
The symbolism was all the more stark given that it came on the new defense secretary's first formal trip to Europe and that it occurred at a conference once dominated by his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld. Putin spoke in a prime first-day time slot once used as a platform for Rumsfeld; Gates is to address the gathering today.
U.S. analysts said Putin's remarks appeared timed to take advantage of the Bush administration's weakness as it struggled with Iraq policy and dwindling support at home. Putin in the past has lashed out at U.S. criticism of Russia's human rights record, turning the tables last month to focus on the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Putin did touch on some areas of common interest with the U.S. He criticized Iran for not responding positively to United Nations proposals to suspend its nuclear program. His comments were among Russia's most pro-Western remarks on the topic in several months.
But he also defended Moscow's sale of antiaircraft weapons to Tehran, and most of the address focused on perceived American unilateralism and hegemony.
"Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not managed to resolve any problems, but made them worse," Putin said. "The wars, local and regional conflicts, have only grown in number."...
The text of Putin's speech (in English) is available from the Munich Conference on Security Policy website. As the LA Times reporter noted, the speech covers a number of issues -- nuclear proliferation, European-based U.S. missle defense, NATO expansion, etc. -- and actually says (at least obliquely) some positive things about Russia's interest in contributing to joint solutions to common problems. One analytical question that might be asked about this speech is whether it achieved what Putin intended it to, or whether his intended messages are being lost in the flood of response to his criticism of the US and its European partners.
"Speech at 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy," Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Munich, Germany, 10 February 2007 (NOTE: Evidently this is the planned text of Putin's speech, posted to the Conference website before he actually spoke. Check the Conference website for any changes made to reflect the speech as delivered.)
Thank you very much dear Madam Federal Chancellor, Mr Teltschik, ladies and gentlemen!
I am truly grateful to be invited to such a representative conference that has assembled politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 40 nations.
This conference’s structure allows me to avoid excessive politeness and the need to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms. This conference’s format will allow me to say what I really think about international security problems. And if my comments seem unduly polemical, pointed or inexact to our colleagues, then I would ask you not to get angry with me. After all, this is only a conference. And I hope that after the first two or three minutes of my speech Mr Teltschik will not turn on the red light over there.
Therefore. It is well known that international security comprises much more than issues relating to military and political stability. It involves the stability of the global economy, overcoming poverty, economic security and developing a dialogue between civilisations.
This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic principle that “security for one is security for all”. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.”...
Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.
We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?....
In conclusion I would like to note the following. We very often – and personally, I very often – hear appeals by our partners, including our European partners, to the effect that Russia should play an increasingly active role in world affairs.
In connection with this I would allow myself to make one small remark. It is hardly necessary to incite us to do so. Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy.
We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates used his speech to the Conference to respond to Putin - but also to acknowledge that the US needs to do a better job of explaining its policies and actions. (Assuming this AP report is accurate, the text of the Gates speech posted to the Munich Conference website was OBE. Look for an official transcript of the speech on the DOD website.) [Note, added 12 February: DOD now has the text of Gates' speech and a report on the question-and-answer session that followed posted to its website. The comments about Guantanamo were made in the Q-and-A session, not in the speech itself. Click here to see the American Forces Press Service account of the Q-and-A.)
"Gates: Prisoner Abuse Scandals Hurt US," by Lolita C. Baldor - AP (Munich, Germany), 11 February 2007
MUNICH, Germany - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and other mistakes have damaged America's reputation, and work must be done to prove the U.S. is still a force for good in the world.
While he did not mention the war in Iraq, he told a conference of top security officials from around the world that the U.S. has to do a better job of explaining its policies and actions....
Delivering his first speech as Pentagon chief, Gates also made an urgent call for NATO allies to live up to their promises to supply military and economic aid for Afghanistan, saying that failing to do so would be shameful.
And in a carefully worded rebuke, he used both humor and some pointed jabs to blunt Russia's sharp attack against U.S. foreign policy a day earlier.
In remarks before a prestigious security forum, Gates dismissed as dated Cold War rhetoric Russian President Vladimir Putin's charge Saturday that the United States is seeding a new arms race....
The bulk of his speech was devoted to the future of the NATO alliance, and the need to work together to defend the trans-Atlantic community against any security threats....