June 19, 2012:
Despite continued violence in Syria, Russia refuses to join the rest of the world in condemning the Syrian dictatorship. While agreeing that the Syrian government is killing a lot of civilians, all Russia will call for are negotiations between the Syrian government and rebels. Russia is part of an international alliance (including China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba) that oppose international efforts to overthrow despotic and oppressive governments.
Russia refuses to budge on this point because Russia has been turning into a despotic government over the last decade. Russia does not have an absolute dictator but an elected government that uses a high degree of state control of media and the electron process to manipulate election results to keep an authoritarian leader (popular with many Russians) in power. The Russian leader of this process, newly elected president Vladimir Putin, has a growing problem with a protest movement that refuses to back down. New regulations make it more difficult to stage a legal protest and increase the fines for those who are arrested. Russian police are now raiding the homes of suspected protest leaders, to intimidate them and gather evidence for trials. The government appears ready to do whatever it takes to stamp out local opposition to a Russian dictatorship. Opposition parties have responded by merging, to form RPR-PARNAS and vow to continue large street demonstrations to protest Putin's despotic ways.
For a week the U.S. criticized Russia for sending helicopter gunships to Syria. The complaints continued even after Russia pointed out that these were Syrian helicopters that had been sent to Russia for refurbishment and were now being sent back. The U.S., and the UN, has been unsuccessful in getting Russia to halt shipments of weapons, munitions, and other military equipment to the Syrian government. Russia insists that business is business and that the U.S. and other nations are supplying the Syrian rebels with weapons.
The Russian Navy has been maintaining a naval patrol off the Syrian coast for over a year now, since the rebellion began there. This is in addition to several more warships from the U.S. and West European states. Several hundred Russian personnel are building facilities for the Russian Navy at the Syrian port of Tartus and Russia continues to deliver weapons and military equipment to Syria. Russia is now rumored to be sending several hundred marines to increase security around the Russian facilities in Tartus. This would have Russian troops fighting Syrian rebels, which would put NATO nations under pressure to halt this more energetic "foreign intervention" on the side of the Syrian dictatorship.
Russia has increased its military training flights over Armenia. So far this year there have been about a dozen training flights a week by Russian military aircraft based in Armenia. Azerbaijan is again threatening war with its archenemy Armenia. Russia has long supported Armenia (which, like Russia, is Christian) against the Azeris (who are Moslem Turks). These days Russia sends diplomats to Azerbaijan to placate the Azeris and promises to defend them if they are attacked by neighboring Iran, or whatever it takes to calm down the Azeris. When that fails, the bear growls.
June 13, 2012: In the Caucasus (Karachayevo-Cherkessia) police cornered and killed three Islamic terrorists.
June 10, 2012: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) a policeman was killed by a roadside bomb. Later, in the same area, police caught up with three Islamic terrorists. In the subsequent gun battle one terrorist was killed and two escaped. Three policemen were wounded.
June 9, 2012: In the Caucasus (Ingushetia) someone threw a grenade at police, wounding five of them, plus a civilian.
June 7, 2012: Another Topol M ICBM, an RS-12M model, was successfully test fired. This model was Russia's first solid fuel ICBM and the first (and so far only) mobile (via truck or railroad) ICBM. Test firings are essential to make sure older missiles will still fly.