Subscribe via RSS Feed

Tag: "russia"

Russia and China: Countries with Interests Beyond Messing with Texas

[ 7 ] October 19, 2011 |

My latest at WPR takes a look at the Russia-China arms trade:

By the middle of the last decade, however, the factors that made the relationship so strong had begun to subside. The sophistication and reliability of Chinese military equipment improved, while the quality of Russian industrial production declined. Some Russians also began to express concern about the growing military might of China, with which many border issues remain unsettled. By contrast, the military relationship between Russia and India appears to have remained relatively healthy, even in the face of recent disagreements over the price and delivery schedule of a refurbished Russian aircraft carrier.

The problem of intellectual property rights also looms large in the Sino-Russian arms trade. Russia remains concerned that China will not respect Russian intellectual property rights for arms transferred to China or licensed for Chinese production. Those concerns are well-founded. China’s lack of respect for intellectual property rights in civilian fieldsremains a sore spot with the United States. Moreover, China has clearly copied Russian weapon systems that were transferred in the past. While Russia and China have engaged in repeated discussions over intellectual property concerns in the past four years, China’s ability and interest in complying with Russian requirements remains suspect. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Russia now views China as a major competitor in the international arms market. If Russia believes that sales to China will actively undercut the position of its exports to the rest of the world, then the future of Russia-China arms trade seems grim.

The major problems afflicting the Russia-China arms relationship can, in large part, be traced to China’s growing power and influence. Russian desperation and Chinese weakness produced a great match in the 1990s, but as the situations in Moscow and especially Beijing have improved, tensions have inevitably developed. The problem lies not simply with Russian fears of Chinese power, but also with China’s “natural” desire to play a global role commensurate with its strength. For China, this means becoming a major player in the international arms market, not to mention ignoring demands from Moscow and Washington that it reform its intellectual property policies.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

A Surprising Transfer of Power in Russia

[ 16 ] September 24, 2011 |

isn’t happening.  I, for one, am shocked.

Muslish!

[ 52 ] July 27, 2011 |

Two updates to posts from last week. First, Colbert is absolutely brutal to Jennifer Rubin:

Second, Eli Lake has additional sourcing on the Georgia bombing. Two US intelligence officials describing a classified report ain’t gospel, but it’s a lot better than sole sourcing the story to the Georgian Ministry of the Interior. I suspect that the administration would prefer that the activities of the GRU not interfere with larger US-Russian relations, although of course the motives of individual intelligence officers will vary. If the US intelligence community believes that the GRU is responsible, them I’m inclined to give much more credence to the report. See also Spencer.

GRU Bombing Campaign in Georgia?

[ 18 ] July 22, 2011 |

Sourcing is a little thin (and by thin, I mean entirely sourced to the Georgian Ministry of the Interior), and implication seems strong (based on Russian behavior in Georgia, we should scotched New START, put Russia on terror sponsorship list, etc.), but interesting nevertheless:

A bomb blast near the U.S. Embassy in Tblisi, Georgia, in September was traced to a plot run by a Russian military intelligence officer, according to an investigation by the Georgian Interior Ministry.

Shota Utiashvili, the most senior official in charge of intelligence analysis for the ministry, said in an interview with The Washington Times that the recent spate of bombings and attempted bombings – including what he said was a blast targeting the U.S. Embassy – was the work of Russian GRU officer Maj. Yevgeny Borisov.

Georgian court has charged Maj. Borisov, who is based in the Russian-occupied province of Abkhazia, with being the mastermind behind a spate of 12 bombings and attempted bombings throughout the country in the past year. These attempts include the detonation of a military-grade explosive about 100 yards from the U.S. Embassy in Tblisi on Sept. 22. No deaths or injuries were reported.

Lake’s description of the South Ossetia War is… tendentious, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised to find that Russian intelligence had embarked on a campaign like this. Whether the United States should react to such a campaign by suspending- I’m not sure what, exactly, but it has something to do with “reset”- is a different question entirely.

Don’t look anywhere else for kids bomber jacket and leather jackets for women on sale. We also provide for bikers various costume boys quilted jacket, motorcycle airbag jacket and biker girl clothing as well.

When Will the Prohibitionist War on All Things Good and Holy End?

[ 18 ] July 21, 2011 |

This is just outrageous:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed legislation that officially classifies beer as alcohol in Russia.

The new law will allow controls on the sale of beer and other “low alcohol” beverages in an attempt to reduce alcohol abuse in Russia, a country with an alcohol consumption that is twice the critical level set by the World Health Organization.

Until now, any drinks containing less than 10 percent alcohol have been classified as a foodstuff in Russia, with no restrictions on sales.

Russians have tended to treat beer as if it were a soft drink, and it is has even been marketed as a healthier alternative to vodka, the BBC says. Beer has soared in popularity in recent years, while vodka sales have fallen.

Future of the Russian Navy

[ 2 ] February 16, 2011 |

My latest at WPR takes a look at the future of Russian Navy deployments:

Consequently, Russia faces a strategic dilemma whenever it makes decisions about the basing of its warships. Because of the relative isolation of its fleets, warships deployed to one region cannot be readily redeployed in times of crisis, and the influence that a fleet provides over its surrounding region cannot be transferred to other areas. In short, Russian naval power is neither fungible nor flexible. Other states face similar issues, but not usually to the same extent. Russian naval deployments must therefore reflect a level of political and strategic commitment to a region not required in the strategic planning of other nations.

About Those Missiles…

[ 15 ] December 1, 2010 |

One of the more interesting cables revealed by Wikileaks involved a meeting between Russian and US diplomats that touched on the question of Iran-North Korea collaboration. One of the key charges made by the Americans was that a number of BM-25 ballistic missiles had been shipped, in various states of construction, from North Korea to Iran in 2005. If you read the cable, you’ll note that the Russians are surprised by the claim, and refuse to give it much credence. The Russian objections seem quite sensible to me, although the US diplomats have some decent responses. An article in the WaPo today gives some detail about the motivations of both sides, and puts into severe question the claim that 19 whole missiles were transferred.  This degree of doubt (and, you know, reporting) was utterly absent in the New York Times coverage of the same cable, which failed to even note Russian objections to the US claims.  See also.

I also kind of have to wonder whatever happened to this report, which involved essentially the same missile.

Libyan Uranium

[ 8 ] November 27, 2010 |

One lesson I take from this is the US-Russian cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation is altogether a good thing:

In November 2009, six years after the government of Libya first agreed to disarm its nuclear weapons program, Libyan nuclear workers wheeled the last of their country’s highly enriched uranium out in front of the Tajoura nuclear facility, just east of Tripoli. U.S. and Russian officials overseeing Libya’s disarmament began preparations to ship this final batch of weapons-grade nuclear material to Russia, where it would be treated and destroyed.

The plan was to load the uranium onto a massive Russian cargo plane, one of the few in the world specially equipped to fly nuclear materials. On November 20, the day before the plane was to leave for a nuclear facility in Russia, Libyan officials unexpectedly halted the shipment. Without explanation, they declared that the uranium would not be permitted to leave Libya. They left the seven five-ton casks out in the open and under light guard, vulnerable to theft by the al-Qaeda factions that still operate in the region or by any rogue government that learned of their presence.

For one month and one day, U.S. and Russian diplomats negotiated with Libya for the uranium to be released and flown out of the country. At the same time, engineers from both countries worked to secure the nuclear material from theft or leakage, two serious dangers that became more likely the longer the casks sat exposed. On December 21, Libya finally allowed a Russian plane to remove the casks, ending Libya’s nuclear weapons program and with it the low-grade game of nuclear blackmail they had been playing.

Read the rest. The downside of letting the hacks at the Heritage Foundation call the tune on GOP nuclear policy is that relatively small, little known moments like this become precarious. Pretending that we can dictate to Russia, and that Moscow’s preferences matter for naught, is extraordinarily dangerous.

Annexation

[ 17 ] November 4, 2010 |

In light of growing disquiet about Chinese intentions and capabilities in the Pacific among US security types, it’s worth taking note of this fairly alarmist Russian analysis:

This brings [Aleksandr] Khramchikhin back to China.  He has previously written some fairly alarmist pieces about the potential Chinese threat to Russia, so this time he focuses on the possibility that China would attack Kazakhstan. This seems to be a sufficiently fantastic scenario that it could be dismissed out of hand, but instead he argues that China would easily win such a conflict while absorbing Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with minimal effort. This means that Russia would have to come to Kazakhstan’s assistance or face the prospect of a 12,000km border with China stretching from Astrakhan to Vladivostok. (I’m not sure what happens to Mongolia in this scenario, but I assume it’s nothing good.) And at this point, Khramchikhin argues that Russia might as well capitulate on the spot.

A couple of thoughts:
1. This scenario is fascinating in that it very nearly mirror-images US concerns about Chinese expansion into the Pacific. It doesn’t include any nonsense about reputation and resolve (“If we allow the Chinese to seize Taiwan, then the Japanese and Indians will be forced to accommodate themselves to the reality of Chinese hegemony etc. etc.”) but otherwise it’s quite similar in tone. I guess that everybody has to come up with a reason why they should get paid.

2. In mild, brief defense of US analysts on the subject, I do think that a move to the Pacific is more likely than the conquest and annexation of Kazahkstan.  I’m pretty sure that the PRC does actually kind of want Taiwan, and I’m not certain at all that it would want Kazahkstan even if someone were selling at bargain basement prices.  I would also think that as a future grand strategy the Athenian sea-focused empire makes more sense in the modern context than the Spartan land-focused; nationalism and the expanding material and intellectual tools available to insurgency have made land based empire prohibitively expensive, which the Soviet Union discovered to its dismay.

On Post-War Settlements

[ 12 ] October 9, 2010 |

Quiggin on the end of the Great War:

Despite the emergence of the ever-present nuclear menace, 1945 marked the low point of the 20th century in many ways. At least on the Western side, the peace settlement was far less draconian, and far more successful, than that of 1919. And, for several decades after the end of war, there was fairly steady progress towards a version (scaled-down in important respects, but more ambitious in some others) of those pre-1914 aspirations.

Really? Aren’t several of these propositions at least debatable? First, can we meaningfully use a term such as “on the Western side” when talking about the 1945 settlement? The division of Germany into two political units, and the distribution of significant portions of Germany to Poland and other Eastern European countries is the key element of the 1945 settlement. I don’t see how we can profitably make an analytical division between a “Western” and an “Eastern” response; the relatively light-handed approach of the occupying powers in the West was entirely dependent on the character of Soviet policy in the East.

More importantly, it seems to me that the real lesson that the Allied powers learned from 1919 was that the treatment of Germany was not nearly draconian enough. In 1945, in contrast to 1919, Germany was occupied by four armies, and its political institutions were formally restructured by the occupying powers. It was informally, then formally, divided into two parts. It lost more territory in 1945 than it had lost in 1919. While the German military was severely restricted post-Versailles, after 1945 Germany entirely lost its right to maintain military organizations, and would only partially regain that right in 1955. German political and military officials were put on trial, politically neutralized, and in many cases imprisoned or executed by the occupying powers. The military occupation of Germany by foreign powers continued until, well, now. Moreover, the actual process of winning the war wreaked far more draconian consequences on Germany than the process of Allied victory in World War I, with most German cities, industry, and infrastructure subjected to destructive air and land attack.

In short, I’d reiterate that Allied policy in 1945 was draconian, if appropriately so. I’m also not sure that the postwar settlement should be described as “successful”; while it certainly prevented the emergence of another German effort at European hegemony, this came at the cost of a Europe bitterly divided along military and social lines, an American and British military presence in many Western European states, and Russian political domination of the entirety of Eastern Europe. We can say, at best, that things sort of worked out in the end, but the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union wasn’t the predictable outcome of a set of policies enacted by responsible leaders in 1945.

Russian Narco Subs

[ 17 ] October 3, 2010 |

This is genuinely fascinating:

When police found a russian-engineered submarine under construction on the outskirts of landlocked Bogota last week, one senior officer swore they had stumbled on “irrefutable proof of the presence of the Russian mafia” in Colombia.

Before the 100ft vessel could be bolted together in order to “run silent, run deep” with cargos of cocaine and heroin, the shipbuilders managed to run away, leaving behind incriminating blueprints labeled with Cyrillic letters.

No arrests have been made, although officials said they also found the names and telephone numbers of two American suspects at this dry-dock high in the Andes. Three former Soviet naval engineers are believed to have been involved. A closed-circuit video camera on top of a brick warehouse in rural Facatativa, 18 miles west of Bogota, tipped off workers to the raid by drug enforcement squads, and they made a hasty escape through cow pastures and fields of carnations….

The half-built submarine was about a fifth the scale of the doomed Kursk, and one-third smaller than the second-hand Soviet navy submarine with which a Russian immigrant in Miami tried to secure a $35m (£24.5m) deal between the Russian mafia and a Colombian cocaine baron back in 1995.

Fidel Azula, a former submarine captain, said: “It was unmistakably of superb naval construction, superior to anything in the Colombian navy.”

Obviously, it’s not surprising that there’s collaboration between the Russian mafia and Columbian drug cartels. Moreover, as the cartels have turned towards submersibles and semi-submersibles as a way of smuggling drugs into the United States, it’s not completely surprising that they’d take advantage of former Soviet know-how in this area. Nevertheless, it still has a scent of the Clancy about it; rogue naval submarine architects selling their services to the highest bidder could easily constitute the plot of a Jack Ryan novel.

On the policy level, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the security risk posed by unemployed, underpaid Soviet nuclear scientists. This article suggests that the nuclear issues is only one small facet of a much larger phenomenon; the detritus of the Soviet national security state finds its way into every nook and cranny. I’m not sure that there’s any productive policy that could counter this problem. Soviet scientists are few enough in number that they can be monitored and given gainful employment. The rest of one of the two largest national security states to ever exist, not so much.

You can sign up for MB7-842 training program to guarantee pass your 70-652 exam. We also offer best quality self study resources for 70-236 & MB5-856, have you ever heard about 70-448; they are stunning in IT world.

The Bear is Always Resurgent, Even When He’s Napping

[ 10 ] June 19, 2010 |

An alternative title to this article might have been “Russia’s arms industry a pathetic shambles.”

Russia is to embark on the biggest overseas arms shopping spree in its modern history with up to £8 billion earmarked for state-of-the art foreign military hardware, it has been claimed.

The forecast, made in a report from an influential military think tank close to the Russian Defence Ministry, came as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched what the Kremlin said was the world’s quietest attack submarine. “Most great powers heavily invest in the newest offensive and defensive systems,” he said at a shipyard ceremony in northern Russia on Tuesday. “We should do the same.”

The report, from the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said Russia was looking to spend up to £8 billion in the next five or six years on foreign military purchases. The unprecedented overseas shopping spree has been made possible after the Kremlin abandoned its traditional “buy Russian” policy with defence chiefs conceding that domestic arms manufacturers are not always able to compete with their Western rivals on quality…

The news is likely to alarm Georgia against whom Russia fought a short sharp war in 2008. It will also unnerve Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia who remain wary of their former imperial master despite being safely inside NATO.

Yasen, the “world’s quietest attack sub” was laid down in 1993. The second sub in the class is expected to be ready for delivery in 2016. To make the comparison with the US a touch more explicit, by the time Yasen enters service the United States will have built eight Virginia SSNs, a class which was largely designed after Yasen was laid down. Under the optimistic assumption that the second Yasen actually enters service in 2016, the United States will have thirteen Virginias to two Yasens.

None of this should surprise anyone who has followed the decline of the Russian defense industry. In response to the South Ossetia War and the new START Treaty, however, wingnuts have stepped up their dire rhetoric about the threat of a resurgent Russia, operating hundreds of PAK-FAs that will sweep our measly 187 F-22s from the sky, etc. The fact remains, however, that the Russian defense industry is a disaster, and that Russia has not demonstrated a capability since the end of the Cold War to build any kind of sophisticated defense equipment in any significant numbers. Russia is simply not a peer competitor to the United States, and given the fact that the Russian economy is 9% the size of the US, it won’t be anytime soon.

Page 4 of 14« First...23456...10...Last »