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Russia: The Mystery In The Forest
   Next Article → MARINES: MRAP Spirit Hits The Beaches
March 7, 2010: The army insists that the 200 T-72 and T-80 tanks found in the woods next to a railroad station in the Urals last week, was part of a normal movement of military equipment, and the vehicles were under guard. But a week ago, people living in village of Elanskaya (outside the city of Yekaterinburg) noted the vehicles, unguarded, and unlocked, but without ammo or ignition keys. Local kids began crawling in and out of the tanks. Videos of all this began showing up on local, then national, web news programs. The government controlled national media tried to ignore it at first. Eventually the troops showed up, and then the tanks began disappearing, as trains with flat cars came by at night to pick them up. The situation raised, once more, the issue of the military wasting resources by trying to retain obsolete equipment. This may have made sense at one time, when military technology didn't change as rapidly as it has for the last few decades. Keeping over 20,000 tanks in service, when only 6,000 are needed, is seen as a waste of resources. The army responds that it had 50,000 tanks at the end of the Cold War, and has already sent most of them to the smelters. But as the recent episode demonstrated, the military is still spending a lot of money on tanks it doesn't need. The army would not comment on why those late model tanks were temporarily dumped in the woods next to the Trans-Siberian railroad. But one can surmise that Russia was building up its tank strength out east.

Major reforms in the military are into their third year, and the military is shrinking (losing nearly 200,000 officers it did not need) and getting cleaned up (several major corruption investigations have cut theft of cash and equipment). But morale remains low (still lots of suicides and accidental deaths). There's a long way to go yet.

Russian attempts to replace Iran's aging AirBus and Boeing airliner fleet with Russia aircraft has apparently failed. Iran has ordered dozens of Russian pilots (for the Russian airliners Iran does use) to leave the country within two months. Iran is angry that Russia has again said it would deliver the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems Iran has bought and paid for, and then said that, no, the missile systems would not be shipped.  Russia has become alarmed at Irans nuclear weapons program, and the aggressiveness and instability of Iranian leadership.

Georgia, and the Baltic States (particularly Estonia) are asking West European nations not to sell Russia amphibious assault ships. Russia has approached France and Spain about buying such ships, and Georgia and the Baltic States see themselves as the most likely targets for such vessels.

The Russian space program is suffering from a shortage of high quality volunteers to be astronauts (or Cosmonauts, in Russian). There are only forty trained Cosmonauts, and the training facilities are decades old and dilapidated. There are much better paying (and safer) jobs available to Russians who can meet the mental and physical standards for being a Cosmonaut, so the quality of recent applicants has been plummeting.

One reason Russia has been more helpful to NATO forces in Afghanistan, is that all that heroin coming out of Afghanistan has created over two million heroin addicts in Russia. Each year, 30,000 Russians die from heroin use. Russia would like NATO to crippled Afghan heroin production as soon as possible.

March 4, 2010: Prime minister Putin ordered the air force to begin planning development of a new heavy bomber. Such a project would cost billions of dollars, just to get started. The air force now has to come up with a convincing design, that will justify spending over $20 billion. The army and navy would love to have that money, and the air force will have a hard time holding on to it. The last heavy bomber, the Tu-160, was developed over two decades ago, entered service in 1987, and only 35 were built before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The aircraft is similar to the U.S. B-1, as the Russians never got to try and build something similar to American B-2.

The navy successfully tested its Sineva SLBM (sea launched ballistic missile). This liquid fueled missile is used in existing Delta IV class missile subs.

March 3, 2010: In Ingushetia, police raided a Chechen rebel hideout. The men trapped inside refused to surrender, and in the subsequent gun battle, eight of the rebels were killed (including wanted leader Alexander Tikhomirov), and ten others captured. Also seized were weapons, documents and bomb making materials which linked this group to bombing attacks on Russian railroads in 2007 and 2009.  

March 2, 2010: Russia put three more GLONASS navigation satellites in orbit. That makes 19 active ones, with 24 needed to make this GPS system complete and active worldwide.

March 1, 2010:  Per an agreement last year, the border between Russia and Georgia was reopened (at only one crossing). The border had been closed since July, 2006.

February 27, 2010: Russia has agreed to supply Lebanon with armed helicopters (ten Mi-24s), instead of ten MiG-29s. Lebanon doesn't have pilots who could match Israeli pilots in their F-16s.

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doggone    genius vs dumb   3/7/2010 11:17:11 AM
The Russians have always shown a genius flare with regards to building their ground forces. They built stockpiles of artillery, dating back to WW2, to supply enormous and quickly mobile infantry units (called Fronts for the ETO). The problem was that the Russians were dumb when it came to figuring out who their true enemy was. 
Per Russian sovereignty:  China's eyes on the Russian 'Far East' has always the real threat. The Chinese population has been moving in there for the last few decades. Russian philosophy states that it's okay for Russian tanks to move into any country where Russian nationals are at risk (i.e. Eastern Europe).  Now China is considering the same philosophy concerning its citizens moving into the Far East ( those vast, resource rich,  lands that China once owned).
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Quite a quandary the Russians have built for themselves:  What comes around, goes around....  However, beefing up their rear guard is still the smart thing to do. Better late than never.
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We have an international 'chess game', being played out mostly in secret:  The Chinese giant maneuvering into the little known, sparsely populated, sparsely protected, enormously fertile lands of the Russian east... The next move will be Russia's...  Awesome..
 
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Nocturne       3/7/2010 11:38:34 AM
hhmm this sounds rather strange even for russia. unless those tanks were stripped from any working gear...still they should be at least locked up in some compound. Bizarre
 
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trenchsol       3/7/2010 12:20:20 PM
During the recent clash in Georgia Russia asserted that escalation with Europe is very unlikely. The economy of Russia and European economies became too interdependent, both sides agree on that. So, if the tanks are not much needed  at the western borders, it makes sense to move them east.
 
DG
 
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WarNerd       3/7/2010 1:57:54 PM
Also, those tanks may be obsolete compared to western designs, including those in use by European forces, but they are probably still equal or better versus most operational Chinese tanks.
 
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Photon       3/7/2010 6:43:29 PM
Also, those tanks may be obsolete compared to western designs, including those in use by European forces, but they are probably still equal or better versus most operational Chinese tanks.
 
I think a fleet of T-72 and similar vintages should be adequate for defending east of the Urals for another decade or so.  I think the Russians should invest in three things:  Airpower, artillery, and anti-tank munitions.  Siberia is just darn too huge and thus large motorized  armies have limited usefulness if used conventionally.  Instead, the protection of Trans-Siberian Railroad is very important and whatever ground forces there is should be organized to do 'zone defense'.  But these spread out ground units will not have much power, unless they are backed by airpower, artillery, and anti-tank capabilities.
 
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Skylark       3/7/2010 10:30:00 PM
     I can understand the Russian military ditching the tanks the way they did.  The Gulf war has already proved that the T-72 is a death-trap, and the T-80 isn't much better.  I saw a video of the tanks on you-tube and they are definitely not stripped, all they lacked was ammunition.  I'm surprised that the enterprising locals didn't drain the fuel tanks and strip items like batteries and optical gear for resale.  .  If they were really smart, they should have kept quiet and held a discreet online auction as there are plenty of collectors that might like to add a T-72 to their stable.  :)
 
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Nocturne       3/8/2010 1:53:30 PM
I can understand the Russian military ditching the tanks the way they did.  The Gulf war has already proved that the T-72 is a death-trap, and the T-80 isn't much better.  I saw a video of the tanks on you-tube and they are definitely not stripped, all they lacked was ammunition.  I'm surprised that the enterprising locals didn't drain the fuel tanks and strip items like batteries and optical gear for resale.  .  If they were really smart, they should have kept quiet and held a discreet online auction as there are plenty of collectors that might like to add a T-72 to their stable.  :)
 
Gulf war- yes, but please remember africa. They still fight wars with T-55. Maybe they don't have a lot of hard cash but i think u can easily trade T-72/T-80 for political love, contracts to develope oil fields, whatever. There  are lots of hard pressed rebels/governments in africa who would sign anything for some weapons. So why let them rust if they do actually work? If they aren't good to fight west or china dump them to your 3rd world 'friends'.  And if they don't work strip them for spares, sell the spares, cut the hulls. Or if u wanna keep them at least lock them good before locals steal half the stuff for souvenirs. I don't get it...Somebody should get prison sentence for jokes like that even in Russia
 
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RtWingCon    a clumsy general?   3/9/2010 10:49:08 PM
Then again, maybe a general just didn't have the logistical chops to cooridinate the arrival of tanks and the flat cars. A simple thought. By the way, this has happened in the US as well, but not to this scale. I know from personal experience as a child in the 70's in our S.Cal neighborhood. A M60 main battle tank was left in our neighborhood on a flatbed with no truck hooked up. It was fun to play in until my brother got it started and scared the hell out of the cops who came by. Needless to say, it was gone the next day. http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/emembarrassed.gif" alt="" />
 
It would be one hell of a gamble to invade the territory of a nuclear power.  Does anyone really believe China would risk it? With all the slamming of Russia's military tech and resources, I imagine Russia is a big bitch to handle when defending her territory(ask Germany). Russia is not Tibet.
 
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clouds    russia vs china? impossibleor stupid scenario   3/11/2010 4:54:20 PM

russia is nuclear country (8800 warheads) vs china (160 warheads). any speculations? is china so dumb to be kamikadze?

these t-72 are old scrap (but is much better of iraq's monkey versions)

 
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tigertony       3/11/2010 6:33:22 PM

russia is nuclear country (8800 warheads) vs china (160 warheads). any speculations? is china so dumb to be kamikadze?


these t-72 are old scrap (but is much better of iraq's monkey versions)



 Well China did launch a human wave against the USA in Korea. And since the USA had nukes and China had none i would say that an attack could happen. Russia has alot of resources CCP needs sitting in very lightly populated areas. And since China has no trouble destroying its own country with pollution i would not rule out a future attack on Russia. China has a far larger population and a far larger economy. In 20 years or less Russia may need those 8000 warheads because CCP may have far more.
                                                                                tigertony
 
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