The Russian Connection -
And Putin's US Travel Ban
By Christopher Ruddy

Unsettling was the report this week that Mikhail Gorbachev had canceled plans to travel to the United States.
I noted that he passed on a long-standing engagement to speak at a charity dinner in Palm Beach, among several other appearances.
No doubt such an event was long in planning. Couples had to cough up $5,000 to hear the former U.S.S.R president speak.
Arm-twisting to get Gorbachev to change his mind didn't work, I hear.
His office claims he was accepting President Putin's advice to him and other Russian officials: Under no circumstances travel to the U.S. over the next weeks, especially for an extended stay!
Putin's advisory has not gotten much publicity, so I'll discount any thinking that this is just Russian propaganda.
One wonders, then, what threat might exist that would cause someone like Gorbachev, who planned to travel to various U.S. cities, to suddenly cancel his plans.
Gorbachev must have taken the advice very seriously. After all, he has compared himself on many occasions to Jesus Christ. Such a divine figure wouldn't be given to many fears.
We can't exclude the possibility that the Russians know something -- or may be behind the "something" that will affect us.
It never ceases to amaze me how the media censor certain topics from discussion. It has been taboo, for instance, to talk about how the Clinton administration led us to the point of Sept. 11.
Equally, it has been radioactive to discuss the links between Russia and almost every nation that supports terrorism and terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda.
Russia is the main backer of nearly every terrorist-sponsoring regime identified by the U.S. State Department, regimes such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Cuba.
Almost all of these countries spent the '90s engaging in significant military buildups, with special emphasis on building strategic weapons: nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In almost every case, Russia has been a helping hand to these efforts.
Such stories rarely, if ever, make it to the pages of the New York Times, or on CNN. Why?
Today, America is facing the serious threat of biological weapons.
Russia has a significant link here again.
This week I spoke with Dr. Sanford Kuvin, an American expert on infection diseases who founded and chairs the Center for Infection Diseases and Tropical Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Kuvin has little doubt that Russia, primarily through its unemployed scientists, shared with rogue states the smallpox virus.
Kuvin says the highly contagious smallpox could be devastating to us, far more than an anthrax attack.
He believes such countries as Iraq, Iran, Syria and North Korea have the smallpox virus, one they can easily incubate and turn into a biological weapon.
More Russian connections. After Sept. 11, there have been several press reports that Osama bin Laden was trying to acquire Russian nuclear suitcase bombs from Russian "mafia" sources.
But in 1998, the Times of London reported bin Laden had successfully acquired such weapons.
If he did, I agree with Col. Stanislav Lunev, a former Russian GRU officer, who claims such a transfer could only be done with the blessing of the Russian government and its intelligence agencies.
The old communist guard, whose members controls almost every top position in Russia, including the presidency, have little love for America. They are envious and still despise us.
Almost overnight, Russia faded as a superpower. Perhaps Russia's leadership would like to see the same thing happen to the U.S.
In the light of Sept. 11, and the events yet to unfold, we need to continue asking:
Who really is backing these terrorist countries and the nations that back them?
Cui Bono (who benefits) from these attacks?
Who benefits from these transparent financial attacks, which are clearly intended to undermine our economy?
Who crafted the intricate terrorist plan against America -- one so sophisticated no terrorist group has ever employed it against a country before?
Who helped to provide the biological, chemical and nuclear weapons that these terrorists have or may get?
We must accept the fact that there is indeed a significant effort by one of more foreign powers to undermine America's financial standing in the world.
I believe we can, for the moment, rule out Chinese complicity. China is fast developing as a superpower itself, thanks to American capital. Why should it stop that process?
No doubt, China's rise is unsettling to Russia. In a few years, Russia will be left in the dustbin of history -- unless it puts the breaks on America and China's economic juggernaut.
Perhaps that is another good reason the trigger was pulled on Sept. 11.
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