Russia: Blame Those Foreigners


March 2, 2011: For the first time, Russia is regularly patrolling (usually from the air) large portions of its 5,600 kilometer northern border (from Murmansk, near Norway, to the Bering Strait, near Alaska.) The increased patrolling is to protect the growing number of oil and natural gas fields being developed near these coastal areas. Naval patrols will begin by 2015. Most of this coast is ice free in Summer, and now surface ships will patrol parts of it, while nuclear subs will run patrols during Winter, when the coastline is iced in.  

Russia is spending about $700 billion during the next decade, to buy new military equipment. A disproportionate amount of the new stuff is being sent to the far east, to protect territories (most of the Russian Far East) that is claimed by China. Japan is also making noise about its claims on the South Kuril islands, but that is nothing compared to the amount of real estate China insists was stolen from them over the last few centuries. China has been quiet about these claims since the Cold War ended, but has not withdrawn them. China is also spending more on its military, although more of that new stuff is directed at the United States and India, not Russia.

In an effort to reform the national police, evaluations are underway for all members of the 1.28 million strong force. By the end of the year, 14 percent of current cops, who do worst in the evaluation (of competence, and possible criminal activity) will be fired. This is going to be interesting. It's a bold move by Russia's president and his staff, and it's the sort of thing Russians expect from their leaders. But the bold moves don't always work, especially when it's believed that far more than 14 percent of cops who are corrupt or incompetent. It's not just the police or are being evaluated and purged. It's happening to senior officials (like provincial governors, who are appointed by the central government, not elected by the locals). Two of these governors were recently replaced, apparently for poor performance.

The government is also intent on getting the security services to cooperate more, especially in the fight against Islamic terrorism. During the 70 years of communist rule, the various security agencies did not cooperate much, because each was supposed to keep an eye on the loyalty of other security operations. That function is supposed to be gone, but old habits die hard.

Russian arms industry officials believe that the current wave of revolutions in the Arab world could cost Russia up to $10 billion in arms sales. Russia was always good to Arab dictators, especially when it came to bribes for arms exports. This sort of thing was no secret in most Arab nations, and many existing arms contracts are expected to be cancelled by new governments.

February 26, 2011:  A Glonass navigation satellite (similar to GPS) was successfully launched into orbit. This operation is part of an effort to recover from a failed launch last December, that led to the loss of three Glonass satellites and the firing of two senior Space Agency officials. The Glonass system now has 27 satellites in orbit, but only 23 are operational. A few more satellites are needed to make the system fully operational (covering the entire planet on a regular basis).

The government announced that, despite Israeli objections, that the Yakhont anti-ship missile would be exported to Syria. Israel is the only one in the region the Yakhonts would be used against. However, because Iran is supplying (unofficially) the cash for the missiles, there is also the risk that some of the Yakhont's would end up in Iran.

February 25, 2011: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkariya), three groups of Islamic terrorists (totaling 12 men) attacked police in the provincial capital. One policemen was injured, along with several of the attackers.  

Parliament ratified an agreement that allows American weapons to be transported to and from Afghanistan via Russian railroads. Other military supplies (except weapons) have been transported to Afghanistan for the Americans for several years already.

February 24, 2011: An expensive planetary survey satellite (Geo-IK-2), launched earlier this month into the wrong orbit, has been abandoned after efforts to correct the orbit failed. Many Russian media outlets are running stories that blame "foreign powers" for the failure of Geo-IK-2.

February 23, 2011: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkariya), police found the hideout of the Islamic radicals that have made recent attacks. One policeman was killed when the five Islamic terrorists in the building opened fire.

In Georgia, two bombs were found outside a commercial TV station. Russian intelligence was blamed, because the TV station broadcast a lot of anti-Russian material.

February 22, 2011: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkariya), police found seven Islamic terrorists. In the subsequent gun battle, three of the terrorists were killed, but four escaped.

February 19, 2011: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkariya), police found three bombs at ski resorts, and disarmed them. Another bomb went off in a ski resort cable car, but no one was injured.

February 18, 2011: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkariya), unidentified gunmen shot dead three tourists, and wounded two others. This area, and several ski resorts, is on the Georgia border, and has not experienced the terrorist violence seen elsewhere in the region (Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan.) But Islamic terror groups have been known to move into new areas when police activity gets too intense.

February 14, 2011: In the Caucasus (Karachayevo-Cherkessiya), a raid on an Islamic terrorist hideout left five terrorists and one policeman dead. Elsewhere in the area, two suicide bomb attacks left two dead and 27 wounded.





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