26, 2007: Russia will build four nuclear power plants in India, a deal
worth several billion dollars. Russia has been selling India an average
of $2 billion worth of weapons a year for the past five years, and some 70
percent of Indias weapons are of Russian design or manufacture. Russia wants to
keep it that way, and is always willing to add special perks to Indian beals.
This includes refusing to allow China to install Russian RD93 jet engines in a
Chinese JF17 aircraft that China wants to export to Pakistan. Russia is
particularly eager to snag a $9 billion Indian contract for 126 "Light
Fighters," and is offering the MiG-35 (an updated MiG-29). The competition
is the U.S. F-16 and F- 18F, Sweden's Gripen, the French Rafael and the
Eurofighter Typhoon. Russia hopes to gain an edge by offering to work with
India, and transfer technology, in developing a fifth generation fighter to
match the U.S. F-35. Russia already has done some of these cooperative deals
with India, and has a good track record here. No other nation has that edge.
24, 2007: Estonia caused an uproar in Russia by planning to move a war
memorial (a bronze statue of sad looking soldier, with inscription in Russian
and Estonian saying; "to the fallen of the Second World War") from
the center of the capital, to a less conspicuous place. What it comes down to
is this. Estonians, and many other Russian neighbors, who used to be part of
the Soviet Union, see the Russians as conquerors, while the Russians consider
themselves liberators. It's that attitude that has fueled the growth of the
Russian empire for centuries. That empire largely (but not completely) fell
apart in 1991 when the Soviet Union disappeared. But many Russians want their
empire back, which is why many Russian neighbors rushed to join defense
organizations like NATO. To make matters worse, about 25 percent of Estonia's
population are ethnic Russians, who came to Estonia when it was part of the
Soviet Union. These Russians are much better off economically than Russians in
Russia, but there is friction because the Russo-Estonians resist learning
Estonian (a difficult, Asian, language related to Finnish).
make matters worse, Russia's democracy is turning into a highly centralized
police state, with elections. This kind of centralizing of power often leads to
the disappearance of the elections. Russians say that won't happen.
23, 2007: For reasons unknown, Russia is not cooperating with the United
States and Georgia in attempts to find where three ounces of weapons
grade uranium, a Georgian man tried to sell last year, came from. It probably
came from a Russian facility.
22, 2007: An American proposal to put an ABM (anti-ballistic missile)
radar in the Czech Republic, and ABM missiles in Poland, to stop missiles from
Iran or North Korea, caused Russia to protest, and insist that the ABM system
was there to stop Russian missiles. To Russian thinking, the ABM system could
render some Russian missiles impotent, thus reducing Russian military power and
making Russia weaker. The East European nations back the ABM plan, especially
because it can stop Russian missiles as well. Russia does not like to be
reminded how unpopular it is in Eastern Europe.