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Russia: Passing Gas
   

January 5, 2007: North Korea will have 80 percent of its $8 billion debt to Russia, forgiven. The government believes the North Koreans will never be able to repay the money.

January 3, 2007: Russia has resumed its Cold War era operations against international media. That is, Russia is trying to gain control or, or at least influence over, editors and writers of key international media. This program was quite successful during the Cold War, although the Western media was reluctant to report on the details that came out in the 1990s. The Russian program uses bribes, threats and agents working at international news agencies.   

January 1, 2007: In 2006, the air force resumed long range flights over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. About a hundred of these flights were carried out last year, mainly by Tu-95MS and Tu-160 heavy bombers. Russia has also increased the number of heavy bomber crews it is training, with 42 new crews entering service in 2006.  

December 30, 2006:  India is offering a partnership with Russia in developing a fifth generation warplane to compete with the American F-35 (not the higher tech, and performance, F-22). India is trying to upgrade its aircraft technology, and Russia needs money, and customers, for any fifth generation warplane it develops. This is a deal that would benefit both countries. 

December 25, 2006:  Three more Glonass GPS satellites were put into orbit, for a total of 14. However, 18 are needed for service to be provided to all of Russia, and 24 will be needed to provide global navigation surface. Russia expects to have 24 Glonass birds in orbit by 2009. 

December 23, 2006:  Natural gas is again being used as a diplomatic weapon. Ukraine has been given bargain rates ($130 per thousand cubic meters, which is equivalent to $74 per barrel of oil, a price that is  nearly half what natural gas goes for on the world market). In return for this gift, Ukraine is expected to back Russia in international politics. Georgia, which has been less cooperative, must pay $230 (still a bit below the world price.) Georgia had been paying $110. Belarus, Russia's closest ally, pays $47, but after hard negotiations, this has been raised to $100. Azerbaijan said it would stop buying Russian natural gas, because the price was being raise from $110 to $235, and would get the fuel from Iran instead. The negotiations with Ukraine and Belarus made Western Europe nervous, because there were threats of interrupting supplies of Russian gas to Western Europe. Such interruptions were a major issue when Russia first proposed selling natural gas to Western Europe. Russia promised that the gas supply would never become a political issue. Now it is, and West Europe's traditional distrust of Russia is revived.


  
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