And George Bush has big trouble now, because Yogi Bear (a.k.a. Vladimir Putin) -- who's "smarter than the average bear" -- is in the process of stealing his "pic-a-nic" basket, as The Times of London now tells us:
Russia defied the United States yesterday by announcing plans to sell military hardware to Iran and Venezuela.HEY, CONDI! I don't think Russia really cares. It has the oil . . . and your pic-a-nic basket.
The head of the state arms exporter said that he was negotiating to sell antiaircraft systems to Iran despite American objections. Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems under a $700 million (£386 million) deal with Iran in 2005.
“Contacts between our countries are continuing and we do not see any reason to suspend them,” Anatoli Isaikin, the general director of Rosoboronexport, told the RIA-Novosti news agency at an arms fair in South Africa.
Reports have circulated for some time that the Kremlin is preparing to sell its S300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, offering greater protection against a possible US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The missiles have a range of more than 90 miles (150km).
Sergei Chemezov, the head of the state-owned Russian Technologies, also disclosed that Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chávez, wanted to buy antiaircraft systems, armoured personnel carriers, and SU35 fighter jets when they come into production in 2010.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Kommersant, the financial newspaper, said that Russia was forming “alliance relations” with the two antiAmerican regimes as a response to US involvement in former Soviet republics.
The Russian moves mark a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, threated to block Russia’s membership of key international organisations. She told the Kremlin that its “authoritarian policies” could prevent it from joining the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which coordinates economic policies among industrialised countries. In an outspoken speech to the German Marshall Fund, an institution promoting greater cooperation between America and Europe, Dr Rice said: “The picture emerging is of a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad.
“Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation is now in question. And so too is its attempt to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
She added: “Russia’s international standing is worse now than at any time since 1991.”
Was Georgia, Kosovo and the Ukraine really worth riling up Yogi? Not even Ranger Smith can help you now.