Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What the Russian guy said

At the Defence Committee yesterday, a Russian diplomat managed to convey what many have been thinking about Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper's tough talk about Russians approaching our airspace. That it's just not well-founded and is actually irresponsible:
Dmitry Trofimov, head of the political section at Russia's embassy, told a Commons defence committee that Canadian talk of the "Russian bear in the air" is overblown. "Let us not exaggerate this.

"The only bears which do really matter today are those who are responsible for the slump in our stock markets, whether it's London, New York, Toronto or Moscow."
"Besides the rhetoric being useful for domestic purposes, if there are any ... it can hardly be any of help for interstate relations," Mr. Trofimov said.
Yes, it's fair to say that the red menace is but a useful distraction manufactured to change the channel for Canadians from the Harper government's economic record. Even the Russian guy gets what's going on here. And that's a sad state of affairs when the Russian diplomat seems to be making more sense than your own government:
"From the point of international law, nothing happened, absolutely nothing," said Trofimov.

The diplomat said that what did happen was that two Russian bomber jets flew over the Arctic up to the Beaufort Sea and came about 200 kilometres away from the Yukon-Alaska border.

"None of our military aircraft ever entered the Canadian national airspace," he told reporters after the meeting where he was questioned for about an hour. "When we're talking about the international airspace, well, that's the point at issue and there are no specific rules which prohibit the military aircraft of the Russian Federation, or the military aircraft of the United States of America or any other NATO country to fly in the vicinity of the national airspace of the opposite side."
He did not go so far as to say that the Canadian government over-reacted with its comments, but Trofimov told MPs that the U.S. administration did not have the same strong reaction and that "it talks for itself."
The point has been backed up by the U.S.:
U.S. General Gene Renuart said last month the Russians "have conducted themselves professionally" with their military training flights. "They have maintained compliance with the international rules of airspace sovereignty and have not entered the internal airspace of either of the countries," he said.
Have not entered the airspace. Important point, that. But not the impression left by the Prime Minister and Peter MacKay at all. In fact, the Prime Minister told us this, which was clearly mistaken:
``I have expressed at various times the deep concern our government has with increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe and Russian intrusions into our airspace,'' the prime minister said at a news conference in Saskatoon. (emphasis added)
To sum up: silly yet dangerous Conservative political games at the expense of the Canadian population...check!