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Russia: Dangerous Delusions
   Next Article → STRATEGIC WEAPONS: Iran Thinks Big

July 9, 2009: The U.S. and Russia have agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals from the current target of 2,200 warheads each, to 1,500-1,675, within the next seven years. There will also be a reduction of "delivery systems" (silos, SSBNs, heavy bombers), which was promptly criticized in the U.S. because of heavy use of the bombers for delivering non-nuclear weapons. But there are plenty of fighter-bombers to do this, although at a greater cost per bomb dropped.

There was no deal made to limit Russian high tech weapons sales to Iran in return for the U.S. cancelling the U.S. anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. This missile defense system was to protect Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles, but Russia was offended because such a system could stop Russian missiles as well. This is part of a larger issue. Russia has a problem with its place in the world. Many Russians, and their leaders, still think of the country as a superpower, or at least a major player on the world stage. Trouble is, no one else agrees with this assessment, and Russians don't like it.  Many countries just humor the Russians, but this wears out quickly when the Russians demand a say in major decisions that they are not really qualified to participate in. Russia has lots of land, nukes, natural resources and attitude. But it's industrial might is more pretence than reality. A shrinking population, and authoritarian government that drives away foreign investment, does not persuade the world that the Russians have very promising prospects.

The government is still trying to get the Russian defense industries back into the forefront of military technology. When the Cold War ended in 1991, weapons sales to the Russian armed forces dropped by over 80 percent. Only recently has the military resumed large purchases, but these are still smaller than export sales, which kept many key defense firms alive through the 1990s. The problem is that the old Soviet Union was never in the forefront of military technology. The Russians had some great stuff in the laboratory, but were rarely able to get it to the troops as mass produced weapons. Over a decade of much reduced military R&D has left Russian defense industries even further behind the West. But the Russians are reluctant to admit that they are out of the race, and continue to hype their weapons as equal to Western gear.

The governments battle against alcoholism (which kills 500,000 Russians, mostly men, a year) has lost ground over the last decade. This problem is largely responsible for the shrinking Russian population. The government is planning another crackdown on excessive drinking, and the prospects for this effort succeeding, are not good..

July 3, 2009:  A convoy containing 45 Chechen policemen, in Ingushetia to assist in finding rebels, was ambushed by some of those rebels. Ten policemen were killed and ten wounded.

July 2, 2009:  The government agreed to allow the U.S. to ship weapons and ammo through Russia (via rail and air). Russia would be able to inspect these cargoes to verify what they are.

June 29, 2009: The military began a large scale exercise, including 8,500 troops, 200 tanks, 450 armored vehicles and 250 artillery. Operations were centered in southern Russia and the Caucasus. Georgia complained that Russian troops on their border were actually practicing another invasion of Georgia.  

June 27, 2009:  Russia and NATO have agreed to resume military cooperation. This was halted last Summer in the wake of the Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia.

June 22, 2009: The president of Ingushetia was wounded by a roadside bomb. This was the latest assassination attempt in the Russian Caucasus. The region has been troublesome since the Russians moved in two centuries ago. In addition to criminal gangs (often based on clan affinities), there are nationalists and religious radicals. Typically, the Russians have turned control of the Caucasus republics (provinces) to the strongest local thug, with the expectation that their guy would keep the others in line. But since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the various factions have been unable to determine which is really the strongest.

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Babeouf    No No No   7/9/2009 6:28:47 AM
A Russian problem, going back three hundred years,  is the propensity of its other states to send armies across its borders.
If American's  think Russian thermo nuclear weapons deficient why waste money on missile defense. The Russian elite don't
care who regards them as what. Unless the opinions of others sets armies to move in their direction. Curiously Hitler himself was convinced that Russian tanks etc where generations behind those employed in the German army.Russia is the largest country in the world. It's elites are always fixated with the defense of its borders. That's really all there is to it.  P.S.
The export orders point does not apply in all areas. The Sukhoi  SU-34 is entering large scale production. No planes of this
type are currently allowed to be sold abroad.
P.P.S The point does not hold for missile systems either. Ask Israeli government about the S 300 and S 400.
 
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cwDeici       7/9/2009 9:49:09 AM
You seem to have missed the first point, the missiles are aimed at Russia.
Furthermore the article does not state that Russian technology is generations behind, merely that it is behind, which is true.
 
The rest of what you say is correct, but as for the current European regimes they are not interested in war, however this may of course change. Russia is getting weaker as well, with its shrinking population, so it's leadership would be wise not to alienate its cousins and near abroad siblings when severe and grave threats exist elsewhere.
 
Furthermore the Amies never actually wanted to a cold war, that was the fault of Stalin and many of his successors.
 
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Headlock       7/9/2009 11:22:47 AM
Several small quibbles, guys:

 1."Curiously Hitler himself was convinced that Russian tanks etc where generations behind those employed in the German army" - well, the Wehrmacht High Command thought so, and judging by the thousands of Russian tanks destroyed in the early months of the war, they were right to think so. The T34 was barely out of prototyping at the launch of Barbarossa, and was rushed into production far quicker than normal becuase of the invasion. Plus the Germans already had the Tiger series on the drawing board, which was far and away the strongest tank of the war, although the Rusain "Stalin" tank series did come close.

2. "The current European regimes they are not interested in war, however this may of course change." The government sof the EU are not "regimes", in the modern understanding (ie Authoritarian govvernment); North Korea has a regime, Syria has a regime; Iran is heading towards silent/gradual implementation of a regime. However, int he old understandingm, derived from french "Regimens", it did mean just a form of government. Today however, it has distinct negative connotations, suggestion lack of freedoms, autocratic government and excessive police activity. None of these apply  to the EU, and as for the EU contemplating "war"...well, War is the LAST thing the EU is contemplating, if at all. Hell, thats why its predessor (EEC) was set up in the first place- to help prevent further european wars.

HDK 
 

 
 
 
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Bob Roberts       7/9/2009 12:00:01 PM
So we're supposed to cut our bomber fleet even more?  I know we cut the B-1 fleet down to 67 or so aircraft a few years back and the B-52 fleet was supposed to be reduced some as well but any further reductions from this in regards to some new arms control agreement is news to me.  I'd like to see some trustworthy sources on this before I believe it hook line and sinker, although with the new administration nothing would surprise me.  That said if it is true what a horrendous potentially catastrophic position to take.  Does anybody have any further information on this?
 
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RL_CA    50 push-ups to clear your head   7/10/2009 10:55:15 PM

Dangerous Delusions : looks like written by staff sergeant or for sergeant?s consumption. If they are not qualified to participate, why they are invited? I doubt author of article what Russia?s leaders think. Overall articles is trash bag of emotions mixed with some facts. Just enough to make it sound about right for those not very familiar with the subject. It?s delusional to point to Iran or N. Korea as major problems and then dismiss Russia. In Iran?s nuclear drive case Russia has more influence then pretty much all rest of countries, including US. It doesn?t even need to fight anybody, it can just ship right technology and anti-aircraft systems for Israel and US analysts to sh.. their pants. Now the question is why they don?t do it? Answer is only US recently was stuff just because it could,

going into Iraq to search for WMDs that were not there, etc. without UN resolution, opposing NATO allies position, etc. Now you need to assure Iran that it?s not next. UN resolutions don?t guarantee security and once

it becomes volatile, hardware becomes preferred currency. Also see, there is desire to think in WWII terms with bombers, tanks numbers. You don?t need Tiger tank to kill you. It was 70 years ago. These days IED or microgram of right chemical would do. So strategy is keep it from sliding to situation where you don?t want to be.

By the way US probably lost status of superpower in the fall of 2008. These days it is more of negotiating with Russians and Chinese to keep dollar reserves, let alone sergeant?s dreams about big guns.

 

 
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pmukherjee    West is Best!!   7/12/2009 2:29:30 PM
Russia has a right to be suspicious of Western Europe and by extension, the US. You cannot wipe out centuries of animosity and invasion with a few cute remarks of  "Forgeting cold war mentality". Russian history says that France (Nepoleanic wars), Britain (Crimean war), Germany (WW-II) and USA (post WW-II hostilities) are not friends and are waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out punch at the first sign of the slightest weakness. Only a fool disregards history completely and believes that the past is all nonsense and there is a 'brave new world' waiting out there. The West lost an opportunity of embracing Russia in early 1990s when Russian public opinion was overwhelmingly pro-west. Maybe, the past came in their way! Instead, what we saw was unwarranted involvement in Kossovo, extending NATO influence into Poland, Ukrain and Georgia, involvement in Central Asian Republics and the BMD in East Europe. All measures undoubtedly designed to reassure the Russians of the friendly and amicable intentions of the West!! Why, one wonders, doesnt the Russian leadership understand and see the benign intentions of the West? Why dont they understand that they should just lie down and die as the West expects them to?
 
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warpig       7/12/2009 8:13:55 PM

Russia has a right to be suspicious of Western Europe and by extension, the US. You cannot wipe out centuries of animosity and invasion with a few cute remarks of  "Forgeting cold war mentality". Russian history says that France (Nepoleanic wars), Britain (Crimean war), Germany (WW-II) and USA (post WW-II hostilities) are not friends and are waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out punch at the first sign of the slightest weakness. Only a fool disregards history completely and believes that the past is all nonsense and there is a 'brave new world' waiting out there. The West lost an opportunity of embracing Russia in early 1990s when Russian public opinion was overwhelmingly pro-west. Maybe, the past came in their way! Instead, what we saw was unwarranted involvement in Kossovo, extending NATO influence into Poland, Ukrain and Georgia, involvement in Central Asian Republics and the BMD in East Europe. All measures undoubtedly designed to reassure the Russians of the friendly and amicable intentions of the West!! Why, one wonders, doesnt the Russian leadership understand and see the benign intentions of the West? Why dont they understand that they should just lie down and die as the West expects them to?


Yeah, and during that same time America has been attacked by the British, the Mexicans (sort of), the British helped the losing side against the winning side in the War Between the States, the Spanish (maybe), the Germans, and the Japanese--so I guess we ought to focus the main effort of our military against the Europeans, too (particularly the British)... right?
 
I am so tired of reading the utter b*llsh!t idea that Russians are "paranoid" about being invaded, or that at a minimum that they have any right to think in such a way (since I suppose it is possible that some of them might actually be paranopid, as that would be the only way to explain any fear whatsoever of invasion today by any European country).  It is ludicrous to think that any NATO country has any plan to invade any part of Russia, and it is no better than laughable to say that's what Russians think, and/or pathetic for any Russians to actually think it.
 
 
 
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pmukherjee       7/12/2009 11:48:41 PM



Russia has a right to be suspicious of Western Europe and by extension, the US. You cannot wipe out centuries of animosity and invasion with a few cute remarks of  "Forgeting cold war mentality". Russian history says that France (Nepoleanic wars), Britain (Crimean war), Germany (WW-II) and USA (post WW-II hostilities) are not friends and are waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out punch at the first sign of the slightest weakness. Only a fool disregards history completely and believes that the past is all nonsense and there is a 'brave new world' waiting out there. The West lost an opportunity of embracing Russia in early 1990s when Russian public opinion was overwhelmingly pro-west. Maybe, the past came in their way! Instead, what we saw was unwarranted involvement in Kossovo, extending NATO influence into Poland, Ukrain and Georgia, involvement in Central Asian Republics and the BMD in East Europe. All measures undoubtedly designed to reassure the Russians of the friendly and amicable intentions of the West!! Why, one wonders, doesnt the Russian leadership understand and see the benign intentions of the West? Why dont they understand that they should just lie down and die as the West expects them to?






Yeah, and during that same time America has been attacked by the British, the Mexicans (sort of), the British helped the losing side against the winning side in the War Between the States, the Spanish (maybe), the Germans, and the Japanese--so I guess we ought to focus the main effort of our military against the Europeans, too (particularly the British)... right?

 

I am so tired of reading the utter b*llsh!t idea that Russians are "paranoid" about being invaded, or that at a minimum that they have any right to think in such a way (since I suppose it is possible that some of them might actually be paranopid, as that would be the only way to explain any fear whatsoever of invasion today by any European country).  It is ludicrous to think that any NATO country has any plan to invade any part of Russia, and it is no better than laughable to say that's what Russians think, and/or pathetic for any Russians to actually think it.

 

 


Care to tell us just what America is doing fingering around in East Europe and Central Asia? Saving the big bad world from itself and protecting the 'American way of life' no doubt.
 
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DarthAmerica    @Warpig   7/13/2009 12:09:02 AM


I am so tired of reading the utter b*llsh!t idea that Russians are "paranoid" about being invaded, or that at a minimum that they have any right to think in such a way (since I suppose it is possible that some of them might actually be paranopid, as that would be the only way to explain any fear whatsoever of invasion today by any European country).  It is ludicrous to think that any NATO country has any plan to invade any part of Russia, and it is no better than laughable to say that's what Russians think, and/or pathetic for any Russians to actually think it.

 
It most definitely is not ludicrous. It is extremely improbably from our point of view. The Russians know that. But they also know that they have to be prepared for the possibility. NOT being prepared when Germany is still an active hub of US logistic activity and still a garrison would make them extremely vulnerable if what is improbable suddenly became an option for some reason. It is equally improbable that the Russians would attack us from Cuba. But when that hype about Blackjacks being based there came up the USA politely reminded them that it isn't advisable.
 
Similarly, it was highly laughable that Saddam or the Iranians would use a nuclear weapon against Israel. But the idea of it caused Israel to strike Iraq and to this day they rattle the saber for Iran. Nations have to make preparations and plan for worse case. Surely you can see this.
 
-DA
 


 
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warpig       7/13/2009 2:19:42 AM






I am so tired of reading the utter b*llsh!t idea that Russians are "paranoid" about being invaded, or that at a minimum that they have any right to think in such a way (since I suppose it is possible that some of them might actually be paranopid, as that would be the only way to explain any fear whatsoever of invasion today by any European country).  It is ludicrous to think that any NATO country has any plan to invade any part of Russia, and it is no better than laughable to say that's what Russians think, and/or pathetic for any Russians to actually think it.



 




It most definitely is not ludicrous. It is extremely improbably from our point of view. The Russians know that. But they also know that they have to be prepared for the possibility. NOT being prepared when Germany is still an active hub of US logistic activity and still a garrison would make them extremely vulnerable if what is improbable suddenly became an option for some reason. It is equally improbable that the Russians would attack us from Cuba. But when that hype about Blackjacks being based there came up the USA politely reminded them that it isn't advisable.

 

Similarly, it was highly laughable that Saddam or the Iranians would use a nuclear weapon against Israel. But the idea of it caused Israel to strike Iraq and to this day they rattle the saber for Iran. Nations have to make preparations and plan for worse case. Surely you can see this.

 

-DA

 












There are plans and then there are plans.
 
We've probably got a plan for if Easter Island decides to attack us.  That's not what I meant.  It's perfectly normal for their military to maintain an OPLAN for defense of the Motherland form NATO attack.  I'm talking about the idea that any Russians actually think it is anything more likely than "statistically impossible" that NATO would up and invade Russia.  There may well be many Russians who actually think that way; and if so then there are an equal number of idiotic, ridiculously ignorant, and/or insane Russians.
 
I still chalk it up as one of those universally-accepted "truths" that has a life of its own, similar to other myths like USAF doesn't want the CAS mission, or that self-defense/home-defense ammunition selection should avoid projectiles that can completely perforate the bad guy because of the high risk to innocent bystandders behind the assailant.
 
 
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