May 30, 2007:
Russia claims that a new model of its SS-24 ICBM can penetrate any
defensive system. This claim is aimed at the new anti-missile system being
built in Eastern Europe, to defend against possible attacks by North Korea or
Iran. Russia, however, insists that the real target is Russian ICBMs, and thus
the new SS-24 will deal with that. This logic mystifies Europeans and Americans, who see no situation
where they would be under attack by Russian missiles. The best explanation for
all this is that the Russian government is simply doing what is popular.
Traditionally, Russia has been surrounded by enemies. Most Russians just assume
that is true, even when it isn't. So when the Russian government goes on about
all the hostile states on its borders, and what is being done to defend the
country, the Russian people feel good. Yeah, it's weird, but that's the way it is
at the moment.
May 29, 2007:
Russia is turning into a police state. Well, no, Russia always has been
a police state. Democracy is seen as some alien, unreliable form of government.
Most Russians prefer a strong leader, although they would like to have the
economic benefits that a democratic form of government brings. Right now, most
of the prosperity in Russia comes from exports of oil and natural gas. Without
it, the economic growth would be a lot less, because Russia is still cursed
with lots of corruption and general inefficiency.
May 28, 2007:
Russia is installing a battalion of new S-400 anti-aircraft missiles
around Moscow. This new system is said to be able to detect stealth aircraft,
implying that the hypothetical enemy is the United States.
May 27, 2007:
The prime minister and president of Ukraine avoided a civil war by
agreeing to hold early elections in September. The country is still divided
between pro and anti-Russian factions. While ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine
are a minority, many ethnic Ukrainians are also pro-Russian for economic, and
other reasons. The two senior leaders were forcing military and security units
to choose sides, when cooler heads prevailed, and new elections were agreed on.
May 23, 2007:
Russia refused a British request to extradite the chief suspect (a
former KGB agent) in the murder of another former KGB man in Britain last year.
A radioactive substance was used to kill the victim, and British detectives
were able to use traces of the radiation to track the murderer back to Russia.
However, Russia denies that it is attacking exiles who say unflattering things
about the Russian government, but that is something that has been going on for
nearly a century, and apparently continues. Of course, you deny you are doing
that sort of thing, but you can't hide the dead bodies. All this goes
hand-in-hand with an increase in the Russian use of spies to steal economic,
military and political secrets in the West.