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Putin Warns Against NATO Plan on Visit

Published: December 5, 2012 (Issue # 1738)


MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin used his first known trip inalmost two months toboost economic ties with Turkey andslam aNATO plan toplace surface-to-air missiles onthe Turkish-Syrian border.

Theone-day visit toIstanbul also seemed torefute rumors that Putin is suffering frompoor health. Speculation swirled after theKremlin canceled aslew offoreign trips, including this one, inOctober andNovember.

Putin used theoccasion tocriticize aplan touse Patriot missiles toprotect Turkey against airborne attacks fromits war-torn neighbor Syria, such as arocket strike that killed five inOctober.

Speaking ata news conference, Putin described that attack as anaccident andsaid Syria is obviously inno position toattack its neighbors, Interfax reported Monday.

Russia traditionally views foreign anti-missile batteries near its borders as asecurity threat, andPutin warned that themissiles could lead toescalating tensions between Turkey andSyria.

You know, as they say, if theres agun hanging onthe wall atthe beginning ofthe play, bythe end it will absolutely be fired, andwhy do we need additional shots fired onthe border? he said.

NATO foreign ministers are expected toapprove Turkeys request forthe Patriot missile batteries ata meeting onTuesday inBrussels.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russian fears ofan escalation.

This is asolely defensive measure that will be de-escalating, he told reporters inBrussels. The [missiles] purpose is toensure theeffective protection ofpeople onTurkish territory. Theessence ofthe alliance is toprotect.

Some described Putins visit toTurkey as alast attempt toderail theplan.

Alexander Shumilin, aMiddle East expert atthe Institute for U.S. andCanadian Studies, said Putin likely traveled toIstanbul with aserious proposal, possibly including theevacuation ofSyrian President Bashar Assad toRussia inexchange forTurkey rejecting themissile plan.

If Putin didnt have any proposals forinfluencing thesituation inSyria, why would he go todiscuss this question with Erdogan? Shumilin said Monday bytelephone, referring toTurkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

There are very persistent rumors about Assad being evacuated toMoscow, he said. This is one ofthose cases when therumors have astrong foundation.

Russia has used its UN Security Council veto power toswat down calls forinternational sanctions onthe Syrian government. It has also said it would honor existing weapons contracts.

But Putin denied that Russia was astaunch defender ofthe Syrian regime, saying theRussian government was worried about repeating recent mistakes, avague reference toLibya.

Anestimated 40,000 Syrians have died since mass anti-government protests began inMarch 2011 andlater evolved intoa civil war.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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