January 24, 2008: Daily incidents of terrorist violence
continue in areas adjacent to Chechnya. The violence, and terrorist activity,
is pretty low level. The number of terrorists is small, and the Russians have
sent several special counter-terrorism teams to hunt down the terrorists.
Russia has been doing this sort of thing in the Caucasus for two centuries.
January 23, 2008: Russian long range
bombers flew down along the Norwegian coast, to carry out an military exercise
off the French and Spanish coasts, where cruise missiles were fired at
imaginary targets. At the same time, a Russian naval squadron, led by an
aircraft carrier, holds exercises in the Mediterranean. These are largely PR
exercises, as there's no practical reason for Russian warships to prowl the
Mediterranean, or for Russian bombers to fire missiles in the Bay of Biscay. It's
all for show, to demonstrate Russian military power to those who don't
January 19, 2008: The head of the
Russian armed forces said that Russia could use its nuclear weapons
preemptively, to destroy a hostile power preparing to attack. Currently,
Russian conventional forces are very weak, and unable to deal with more than a
few attacks along the nations long borders. So using nukes as defensive weapons
makes sense. At the same time, no one is threatening Russia, despite Russian
attempts to depict itself as being surrounded and menaced by NATO (which is a
mutual defense organization). Fixing the Russian armed forces will take over a
decade. Right now, the military is starting to receive new weapons that were in
development when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, and that
development was suspended. New weapons development projects have just begun.
The Soviet Union, it turned out, produced impressive looking weapons, that
performed much less well than they appeared capable of. Reversing that
characteristic will take decades, and meanwhile, Russia will have to defend
itself against imaginary enemies with nukes.
January 17, 2008: Japan arrested a senior civil servant and
accused him of selling classified documents to a Russian spy working out of the