Russia: Out With The Old, In With The New


July 5, 2010: Over the next five years, Russia is planning to spend $12 billion on Western weapons and weapons manufacturing technology. The most visible deals are those with France to obtain four Mistral class amphibious ships (that look like small aircraft carriers), another one for Israeli UAVs and yet another for Italian wheeled armored vehicles. In particular, Russia wants to obtain the manufacturing technology. Russian companies have shown that they can adapt to Western manufacturing methods, and produce comparable goods in Russia, with Russian staff. But Russia has long resisted doing this, legally, with military equipment.

July 4, 2010: In Ingushetia, a military convoy was fired on, and two policemen were killed. Meanwhile, in Siberia, six officers and troops were killed when old ammo, being moved to a disposal area, unexpectedly exploded. Russia still has over a million tons of elderly Cold War era munitions, and the stuff has to be disposed of before it spontaneously explodes (which is increasingly happening).

July 3, 2010:  Iran is trying to convince Russia, without much success, that new UN embargo rules do not ban the shipment of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Russia believes it does, and the Iranians are not happy. As a result, Iran has turned up the heat, threatening to take their weapons business to China, if Russia does not deliver nearly a billion dollars worth of S-300 air defense systems. This threat could cost Russia several billion dollars in lost military exports, accounting for over ten percent of such exports for several years.

For the first time, Russia practiced quickly moving Su-24M and Su-34 bombers from bases in European bases, to one on the Pacific coast, using in-flight refueling. The exercise included the aircraft carrying weapons, and simulating delivering them on a target before arriving at the Pacific coast base. This particular exercise was aimed at China.

June 27, 2010:  The U.S. arrested ten Russian spies in the United States, and sought the arrest of another (who claimed to be Canadian and served as paymaster for the group) in Cyprus. This turned out to be more of a disaster than it first appeared. Many of the spies soon admitted that they were Russian spies, and were Russian citizens operating under false identities. In the spy trade, agents like these are called "illegals" (in that they do not have diplomatic immunity, which top agents usually have). Illegals can be arrested and put in prison for a long time, but also have more freedom of action, to pursue secrets. But this group, which is apparently only part of a larger illegals operation, had been under observation by the FBI for years. The Russian spies apparently didn't get many secrets, and the long FBI stakeout exposed the Russian espionage support organization in the United States, and other parts of the world. This is a major embarrassment for the SVR, the successor of the Soviet era KGB. While ambitious, the illegals network in America appeared amateurish and pointless. The arrested agents showed up in the U.S. about ten years ago, and were detected and put under observation a few years later. The accused spies would, if convicted, be sentenced to 5-10 years in prison.

June 25, 2010: In a visible sign of the government's anti-corruption effort, a Federal Fisheries Agency official, caught in a sting (taking marked money as a bribe), tried to flee arrest. He tossed over $300,000 in marked bills out of his Cadillac SUV, which then crashed. He was arrested, as was his boss in the Fisheries Agency. There are still a lot of corrupt officials around, but well publicized arrests like this causes fear and caution among those seeking to be bought.

Georgia removed, to less visible areas, the last two large statues of Josef Stalin on public display. Stalin was a Georgian, and Georgia was proud of him (either for being dictator of all of Russia for so long, or killing so many Russians). But Georgia is angry with Russia now, for stealing two parts of Georgia, and invading two years ago. 

In the Caucasus (Ingushetia and Dagestan) four policemen were killed in two incidents. Also, in Dagestan, police killed Dzhamaludin Dzhavatov, a top Islamic terrorist leader.

June 24, 2010: Russia again refused requests from Kyrgyzstan for peacekeepers. Apparently part of the Kyrgyz army is still loyal to recently ousted president Bakiyev, and is attacking ethnic Uzbeks in the south. Russia refuses to get mixed up in such ethnic strife, partly because it has so few troops ready to go off, on short notice, and take care of such emergencies. But Russia has been shipping fuel and other supplies to Kyrgyzstan.

June 23, 2010:  Russia has cut natural gas shipments to Belarus by 60 percent, in a dispute over late payment for earlier shipments. Belarus believes it should not be paying higher prices for natural gas, and threatens to interfere (steal from) Russian gas that passes through Belarus on its way to customers in the west.

June 17, 2010: Russian counter-terror forces arrested senior Islamic terrorist leader Ali Taziyev in Ingushetia. Russian forces have been more successful against the Islamic terrorists of late, infiltrating the networks and locating key leaders and bases.

June 15, 2010: In Dagestan, a raid on a terrorist safe house resulted in a gun battle that left four policemen and five terrorists dead.





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