Russia: The Price of Peace in Chechnya


October 26, 2006: The defeat of Islamic terrorists in Chechnya does not mean peace for the Caucasus. The area has always been violent, courtesy of the numerous criminal gangs, and tendency of heavily armed clans to settle disputes with violence, and not a visit to the local courts. Policemen and journalists are still getting killed down there, but the government doesn't much care as long as the cops are local and the journalists are foreigners (or not, but are critics of the government.) The Russian government has made its point, as it has many times before in the past two centuries, that it will come in and destroy everything in sight, if the local leaders cannot keep the crime local and out of the news. If Russia can't have true peace, it will settle for discretion. 


October 25, 2006: For the second time in two months, a test launch of the new submarine based Bulava missile, was a failure. The missile is meant to equip the new Borei class SSBN (nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine). The Borei class boats would replace the aging Cold War area SSBNs, which are being retired because of safety and reliability issues and the high expense of running them. Nuclear submarines are one area of military spending that did not get cut back sharply after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  


October 20, 2006: Sudan has asked Russia for a one billion dollar loan to buy new weapons. This is pitched as part of a 25 year program to reform Sudan's armed forces. Some Russian officials see this as a hustle, just like in the 70s and 80s, when many "revolutionary" government got weapons loans from Russia, and never paid. Russia lost over $50 billion in such deals, and is still trying to collect from Iraq, but has given up hope with deadbeats like Cuba and many other Arab states. Sudan could pay up front, as they have oil. But the Chinese have the oil contracts, and Russia believes  Sudan will give China any "cash-up-front" business. Besides, China sells Russian weapons for less than Russia does.




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