"Cheney also took specific aim at Moscow's use of its vast energy supplies for what Washington says is sometimes the bullying of neighbors.To which Putin was overheard to reply, "Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it, duck-boy?"
'No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation,' he said.
Russia, which is trying to harness its position as an energy giant, drew international criticism earlier this year when it briefly turned off its gas taps to Ukraine in a pricing dispute that disrupted supply to Europe.
Moscow has also warned Europe the Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom -- the world's top gas producer -- could divert its supplies to Asia if it is barred from the European retail gas market."
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana also addressed the conference and, like Cheney, referred to diplomatic tensions with Russia.To which, VVP was heard to reply, "Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib"
Russia suspects the U.S. policy of promoting global democracy is really an instrument to establish itself as the dominant power in the post-Soviet states.
In the past two years, peaceful revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia have brought pro-Western governments to power.
Solana made clear Europe hoped Belarus, a key Russian ally, would follow suit. "The European Union will continue to support the aspirations the people of Belarus," he said. "One day, I'm sure, they will see a democratic breakthrough in their country."
Cheney called Belarus the last dictatorship in Europe and urged the immediate release of opposition leader Aleksander Milinkevich as well as other opposition members.
"Peaceful demonstrators have been beaten, dissidents have vanished and a climate of fear prevails under a government that subverts free elections... there is no place in a Europe whole and free for a regime of this kind."
He also said Russia had restricted human rights.
"In many areas of civil society -- from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties -- the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of the people," he said.
For better or worse, I don't see the US having the moral high-ground in such discussions (or accusations). That position was forfeit some years ago. In fact, I would say it is a direct result of the Bush administrations policies that has emboldened Russia's own foreign and energy policies, as well as weapons sales to certain Middle East nations.
Further, such public statements without engaging the Russian government directly will only inflame relations between the two nations.
So, way to go Dick! You've proven once again to be a most EXCELLENT diplomat!