December 9, 2007: Despite a demand for over a billion dollars in additional
(above the contract) payments for work on warships, Russia continues to win
huge arms export sales to India. Currently, India has over $10 billion worth of
stuff on order. While the problems with some of these contracts gets a lot of
attention, much else about these deals has gone right. Overall, the Indians are
pleased, although they are spending more time looking at arms sales proposals
from Western firms. This makes the Russians nervous, which is apparently the
intent of the exercise.
China is cutting back on arms purchases from Russia,
and is stealing more Russian military technology, so that clones of Russian
gear can be built in China. Russia is getting increasingly vocal about this,
but otherwise cultivates good relations with China. Meanwhile, Russia is
exporting more military gear to other countries. For example, Venezuela has
just bought a billion dollars worth of military contracts (Il-76 series).
December 7, 2007: Another Topol (SS-25, or RS-12M)
ICBM was tested, by launching one. This model was Russia's first solid fuel ICBM,
and the first (and so far only) mobile (via truck or railroad) ICBM. These
missiles are twenty years old, and the test firings are really essential to
make sure the old birds will still fly. Over 200 are still in service. The
successor to the Topol, the larger Topol-M, is in production. While the
military would like to see 30 a year produced, there is only money for 6-7 a
year. Russia is also rebuilding its military satellite network, which has
gradually fallen apart since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Three military
satellites were launched this year.
December 6, 2007: For the first time since the end
of the Cold War, Russian Navy is sending a task force into the Mediterranean.
This will include an aircraft carrier and ten other ships. They will be
supported, as they pass through the Atlantic from their north Russian bases, by
several dozen long range aircraft.
December 2, 2007: President Vladimir Putin's party
won the parliamentary elections, thus insuring the continued effort to rebuild
the armed forces. Putin has centralized government in Russia, which is how it
has been for several centuries. This move has been popular, even though
Westerners tend to view it as the return of the police state. Most Russians
prefer the Putin approach, and Putin has very high (80 percent) approval