Russia: Invading Afghanistan Again


August 23, 2011:  Russia and NATO are expanding the logistics operation that is moving thousands of tons of supplies a week to military forces in Afghanistan. This is very profitable for Russian railroads and freight companies, as well as for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which have rail terminals just across the border in Afghanistan. Russia has also agreed to supply large quantities of fuel to Afghanistan via this northern route, and lessen Afghan dependence on fuel trucked in from Iran and Pakistan. This effort will also lead to Afghanistan importing and exporting more goods via the northern route, which is less vulnerable to Islamic terrorists and Iranian and Pakistani politics.

August 22, 2011: A second public flight of the Russian T-50 (comparable to the American F-22) was aborted as the aircraft sped down the runway. The pilot deployed the landing parachute when he noted a problem with one of the engines. The aircraft was not damaged. The T-50 is a joint development deal with India. Four years ago India agreed to partner with Russia in the development and production of a “Fifth Generation Fighter.” This caused some unrest in the senior ranks of the Indian Air Force. Some generals believed India was paying too much ($5 billion, about half the development cost) and was not involved enough. The Russians had frozen the design of the aircraft by then. This was not to say that Indian air force generals could not have some input when changes had to be made during development, but the current deal did not force the Russians to pay much attention. The Russian-Indian effort is meant to build a superior aircraft to the American F-22. The Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA was not expected to fly until 2010, and not be in service for another 5-10 years (depending on how quickly the new technology could be developed). The T-50 looks a lot like the F-22. The 37 ton T-50 is about the same weight as the F-22, and has a similar shape.

August 21, 2011: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il arrived in eastern Russia for a visit, his first since 2002. Kim is to meet with president Dmitry Medvedev later this week. The visit is apparently part of a joint Chinese-Russian effort to offer Kim economic aid in return for cutting back North Korean nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development. At the same time the visit was announced, Russia said it was sending 50,000 tons of free food to North Korea.

In Dagestan, two bombs went off in supermarkets, wounding fifteen women and children.

August 19, 2011: Twenty years ago, a Communist Party coup against a reformed Soviet Union government collapsed. This resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union (with fourteen new countries being created) and leaving a much smaller and less powerful Russia. The Cold War was officially over, with the Soviet Union not only losing, but disappearing. Since then, most Russians have come resent the way their empire was “taken from them.” It became popular to assume that it was all a plot. But gradually, Russians began to accept that the corruption inherited from the Czarist government, and intensified by 70 years of communist rule, had survived and thrived as Russia turned to democracy for the first time. Russia is still coming to terms with its past, all of it, and it hasn’t been easy.

August 18, 2011: A police commander was shot dead in Ingushetia. The culprits or their motives were not known, although Islamic terrorists in the area are known for assassinating particularly troublesome police commanders. In neighboring Chechnya and Dagestan, several police operations left twelve Islamic terrorists dead.

August 17, 2011: Russia has sold 14 more Mi-17 helicopters to Sri Lanka. The tiny island nation south of India already operates several types of Russian aircraft.

In Russia, a Dnepr satellite launcher put seven micro-satellites into orbit. Dnepr is an old R36 (SS-19) ICBM, refurbished to put lightweight satellites into orbit.

August 16, 2011: Russia's new jet fighter, the T-50, made its first public flight at a trade show outside Moscow. It was also announced that the T-50 would enter service by 2015.

August 15, 2011: Islamic terrorists ambushed an army convoy in Ingushetia, leaving four soldiers dead and seven wounded. In Dagestan, six men died in several attacks apparently carried out by Islamic terrorists.

August 14, 2011: The government revealed that it had recently foiled a plot, by Chechen Islamic terrorists, to use a fertilizer bomb to derail one of the high-speed trains that travel between Moscow and St Petersburg. Meanwhile, in Ingushetia, a small bomb went off in the town of Karabulak, injuring no one.

August 11, 2011: In the last two days, counter-terror operations in Dagestan left seven Islamic terrorists dead, including a senior commander.

August 10, 2011: The Ingushetia government has set up a special organization, containing police and religious leaders, to crack down on illegal alcohol sales during the holy month of Ramadan. Since the Soviet Union fell two decades ago, many largely Moslem areas in the Caucasus have banned alcoholic drinks. But the demand for booze has been so strong that a thriving illegal trade has developed. The latest anti-alcohol campaign is seen by many as just another scam to obtain bribes from those arrested for having illegal alcohol.

August 6, 2011: Two policemen were shot dead in Dagestan.




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