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Posted: 12/23/2008 3:21:39 AM EST

Putin's Christmas present for West... a threat to Europe's gas supply, missiles for Iran and law to let him be president again

By Will Stewart
Last updated at 2:07 AM on 23rd December 2008

Christmas greeting: Vladimir Putin
unveiled a triple whammy of uncertainty
for the West
Vladimir Putin has unveiled a triple whammy of threats and provocation for Britain and the West.

After a year of difficult relations between the Kremlin and Downing Street, the Russian prime minister showed he was prepared to keep up the pressure on his country's former Cold War foes.

In moves certain to further undermine diplomatic ties with London and Washington, Mr Putin:

  • Warned that Britain faced winter gas shortages if supplies from Russia were disrupted because of his bitter dispute with Ukraine;
  • Threatened to supply surface-to-air missiles to Iran, despite Western concerns over its nuclear ambitions; and
  • Lined himself up to be appointed president for a third term after Moscow's parliament rubber stamped constitutional changes overturning a law that only allowed two four-year periods as leader.
  • The news came as protesters angered by rises in car import tariffs were clubbed by riot police to discourage internal dissent against Kremlin policies as the economic crisis led to increasing hardship.

    Mr Putin made it clear that he was ready to hit British and European gas consumers during the winter as part of his feud over unpaid debts and price rises with Ukraine, Russia's pro-Western neighbour.

    Many EU countries have become dependent on Russia's gas pipeline, which crosses Ukraine.

    Provocation: A Russian surface-to-air missile and, inset, current president
    Dmitry Medvedev - who Putin could replace in 2012 after the passing of a law

    The Kremlin has previously switched off supplies to the country, which has a knock-on impact on the amount of gas able to reach Western Europe.

    Western nations will react with dismay to another breach of Russia's pledge to be a reliable energy supplier to its customers.

    Deputy premier Viktor Zubkov, a close ally of Putin's, warned that he could not rule out 'disruption of supply stability to Europe' during the rest of the winter.

    'No solution has been found because of the non- constructive position of the Ukrainian side,' he said. He claimed Ukraine had been given loans by the International Monetary Fund that should have been used to pay off debts to Russia for supplying gas, therefore guaranteeing supplies to the West.

    Ukraine claimed Moscow was playing politics, and said it would do nothing to disrupt supplies to Britain and the rest of the EU.

    In another move of deep concern to the West, Russia admitted it was supplying surface-to-air missiles to Tehran.

    Russia's state arms export agency confirmed the supply, but did not say whether they included sophisticated long-range S-300s.

    Closed taps: The EU depends on Russian gas that travels though Ukraine, above
    Iranian media has reported that Russia had begun supplying S-300s, a possibility Israel and the United States had opposed.

    Supplying the advanced missile systems to Iran would change the military balance in the Middle East. The issue has been the subject of intense speculation and diplomatic wrangling for months.

    Israel and the United States fear that if Iran got hold of S-300 missiles, it would use them to protect its nuclear facilities, including a uranium enrichment plant and the country's first atomic power plant, now under construction by Russian contractors.

    That would make any potential military strike on the Iranian facilities much more difficult.

    Meanwhile, the prospect of a return to the Kremlin by Mr Putin - who stood down this year after completing the maximum presidential spell of two four-year terms
    - increased with the passing of a law to allow future presidents to serve longer.

    The change means he could return when his successor Dmitry Medvedev's term ends in 2012. Future presidents will be allowed two consecutive six-year terms.

    Russia also said last night it plans a massive increase in armaments.

    It will spend £100billion from 2009 to 2011 on 400 new types of weapons, including 300 tanks, 14 warships and almost 50 planes after 'redistributing expenditure on other items within the budget' to upgrade the armed forces.

    Russia will continue to rely on its huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, commissioning 70 strategic nuclear missiles over the next three years.


    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 3:49:24 AM EST
    I'm starting to think that Putin needs to take a nice dose of Thallium. Just like he gave to that spy, Alexander Litvinenko.

    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 5:05:55 AM EST

    Reagan's policies in Lebanon allowed the killing of our troops in Lebanon so I've not been the Reagan fan that many here are. HOWEVER, Reagan warned Europe about depending on Russian gas. IIRC, he specifically warned Germany and Germany agreed there were possible dangers and agreed to limit their dependence on Russian gas to about 25%. Today Germany's reliance on Russian gas is about 50%.

    All from memory and a poor memory at that.

    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 5:12:48 AM EST
    Read Tsar ~ Ted Bell
    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 5:22:00 AM EST
    Russia will be nothing more than what the USSR was, only with a bit of make-up and a hairdoo. Putin is pushing through laws to essentially make any outward communication of discontent with the government an act of treason.
    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 5:37:53 AM EST
    Originally Posted By 1GUNRUNNER:
    Read Tsar ~ Ted Bell

    Got any sex in it ??


    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 6:27:58 AM EST
    Originally Posted By 1GUNRUNNER:
    Read Tsar ~ Ted Bell

    I read Ted's "SPY" recently and now I'm going to order 3 more of his books. He's a fantastic writer.

    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 7:21:51 AM EST
    Hes a freakin commie! WTF did you expect?
    Link Posted: 12/23/2008 7:24:39 AM EST
    I'm glad we'll have the messiah to deal with Putin in less than a months time.

    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 9:31:17 AM EST
    The thing is, Putn will use this to Boycott the US, by forcing European countries hand.

    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 10:02:15 AM EST
    Originally Posted By DWFAN:
    I'm glad we'll have the messiah to deal with Putin in less than a months time.

    Isn't it really interesting how Putin and Medvedev basically told Obongo last month to expect a summons to appear front and center for a beating after the Coronation inauguration. Now the rhetoric gets racheted up again. I guess they've really take it upon themselves to do somethng about Joe's "mark my words" comment.

    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 12:35:21 PM EST
    Originally Posted By 5subslr5:
    Originally Posted By 1GUNRUNNER:
    Read Tsar ~ Ted Bell

    Got any sex in it ??



    Can't say enough about his books. Money well spent.
    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 1:03:15 PM EST
    Maybe Putin is on "our" side".
    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 1:09:31 PM EST
    Heh i called this November 3rd.
    Link Posted: 12/24/2008 2:53:38 PM EST
    Originally Posted By M4-Stag:
    Hes a freakin commie! WTF did you expect?

    He's the biggest capitalist we've never met !

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