August 12, 2007: The head of the air force said
long range air recon missions (usually with Tu-95 aircraft) will be more
frequently carried out in the Pacific. Earlier in the week, two Tu-95s showed
up off Guam, where the U.S. Navy was holding training exercises. Russia says
its Tu-95s were intercepted by American fighters, but the U.S. Navy denies
this, saying the Russian aircraft never came close enough to American warships
to warrant an interception.
August 11, 2007: The government is issuing
new high school history books that downplay the mass murders (over 25 million dead)
carried out during the quarter century that Josef Stalin ran the country.
Stalin is now being portrayed as a "strong and successful" leader.
Between Stalin and the German invasion, about a third of the Russian population
was killed off during Stalin's rule. There was much relief, and remorse,
in Russia when Stalin died in 1953. But with the end of the Cold War, and the
collapse of the Soviet (and Russian) empire (built up over the previous three
centuries), there is much nostalgia for the mythical good old days. The current
government is playing into that.
August 9, 2007: Georgia, upset that Russia
continues to fly reconnaissance missions over its territory, tried to make a
big deal out of a Russian Su-24 aircraft that ditched a one ton Kh58 anti-radar
missile (which hit the ground, and didn't explode) when separatist rebels in
South Ossetia fired on the warplane. Georgia claimed that the Russian aircraft
fired the missile, but this gambit fell apart when it became known that the
missile landed intact near a farmers home.
August 7, 2007: The S400 anti-aircraft
missile system around Moscow officially became operational. This new system is
said to be able to detect stealth aircraft, implying that the hypothetical
enemy is the United States. Russia also claims the S-400 can knock down
short range ballistic missiles (those with a reentry speed of up to 5,000
meters a second, in the same way the similar U.S. Patriot system does.) Russia
is selling S400 for export, an effort that is limited by a lack of combat
experience for the system. Patriot has knocked down aircraft and ballistic
missiles, S-400 has not. Moreover, Russia anti-aircraft missile systems have a
spotty history (especially when confronted by Western electronic
countermeasures.) But Russia is already touting a new, S500 system, that can
knock down longer range ballistic missiles (with higher reentry speeds) and
stealth aircraft. The missiles around Moscow are part of a project to rebuild
the Soviet era air defense system, which has fallen apart since the early
1990s. The new system will be completed in about eight years. The S-500 will be
available before that.
August 6, 2007: A Delta IV SSBN (ballistic
missile submarine) successfully tested a twenty year old 4K75RM (SS-N-23) SLBM
(Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) in the Pacific. These missiles, with a range
of about 8,000 kilometers, are the only operational SLBMs Russia has had since
the Typhoon class boats (and their RSM52/SS-N-20s) were retired in 2004. The
4K75RM uses the older, and more troublesome, storable liquid propellant, while
the RSM52 had solid fuel.
Russia cancelled 90 percent of
the $11 billion debt owned by Afghanistan. This was largely for weapons and
military equipment supplied to several Afghan governments in the 1970s, 80s and
90s. Russia is again supplying Afghanistan with weapons and military
equipment, as well as civilian products.
August 3, 2007: A Russian
submersible planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor near the north pole. This
was a claim to possible oil and gas deposits in Arctic waters off Russias
northern coast. Previous international agreements give Canada, Norway,
Russia, the U.S. and Denmark (which owns Greenland) control of underwater
resources in the Arctic. Basically, you own whatever is under your coastal
waters (as defined by the continental shelf, the shallow stuff that eventually
drops off to really deep water that is considered "international
waters.") It appears there really are valuable resources under Arctic
waters, and new technology has made it possible to profitably extract oil and
gas there. Russia is claiming their coastal waters extend farther towards the
north pole that previous agreements had established. This could lead to some