Russia: The Army Can't Compete


September 22, 2006: A booming economy is killing military efforts to create an all-volunteer, professional force. Average wages in the civilian economy have increased 25 percent in the last year (inflation was only nine percent), making it more difficult to entice young men to sign up.

September 21, 2006: In Chechnya, five Russian police were killed in a drive-by shooting (over 120 shell casings were found at the scene.) It's not known if these were Islamic terrorists or gangsters. It's always been hard to tell the difference, and it's been getting worse as more Chechen rebels switch from Islamic terrorism to pure gangsterism.

September 18, 2006: The government will offer an amnesty for rebels, and soldiers who deserted, during the last eight years of fighting in Chechnya, and the Caucasus in general. There will be a six month period in which most rebels and deserters can turn themselves in, and be set free. The amnesty will not apply to rebels who are "notorious" (have a reputation for being killers), or soldiers who stole and sold weapons to the rebels.

September 16, 2006: The government signed an agreement with the U.S. to convert 25 tons of plutonium taken from thousands of decommissioned nuclear warheads, and turn it into non-weapons grade material, suitable only for power plants.