2007: Russia is delivering upgraded MiG-31 interceptors to Syria,
which is creating tensions with Israel. Syria is broke, and the expensive
MiG-31 upgrades are being paid for by Iran. The 56 ton aircraft has a powerful
radar, and high speed. The Syrian air force has constantly been humiliated by
the Israelis over the last half century. The MiG-31 won't change the balance,
but does pose a threat to Israeli aircraft.
2007: There was a gun battle in Chechnya, that left five dead. What
was unusual about this was that the fighting was between traffic police and
army troops. A traffic cop stopped a soldier (a member of a commando unit) for
drunk driving. The soldier refused to submit to testing or arrest. Both sides
called in reinforcements. When about 200 armed police and soldiers were
gathered at the scene of the traffic stop, someone started shooting. Four
soldiers and one cop were killed, while another six people were wounded. Such
battles between police and soldiers are not unusual, and are mainly the result
of troops believing they are above the law, and not subject to police
jurisdiction. This is a holdover from the Soviet period, when several branches
had their own internal police, and civilian police could not interfere. This is
no longer supposed to be the case, but old habits die hard. It's worse in the
Caucasus, especially, Chechnya, where politicians establish fiefdoms in
government ministries, and refuse to submit to the law.
2007: Austria caught a Russian official receiving state secrets from
an Austrian military officer, and arrested the Russian. But the Russians
insisted their guy had diplomatic immunity. That, and some behind the scenes
threats, got the Russian spymaster released a few days later. European nations
are getting fed up with Russias' growing espionage effort. Europe and North
America are prime targets, and the spying is back to Cold War levels.
2007: Russia is abandoning Cold War era treaties like CFE
(Conventional Armed Forces in Europe), which limited where Russian and NATO
military forces could be stationed in neighboring nations. The treaty is
largely moot, as the enormous Cold War armies are now largely gone. The number
of Russian combat divisions has shrunk some 80 percent since the end of Cold
War, with NATO losing over a third of their ground forces. No one is inclined
to threaten war if CFE is discarded.