Russia: Deploying the Gas Weapon


November 13, 2006: In Georgia, the separatist region of South Ossetia insists that it successfully ran a referendum vote to become independent. South Ossetia has the support of Russia, and Georgia sees this support as a Russian ploy to eventually annex South Ossetia, and the other breakaway region of Abkhazia.


November 11, 2006: Russian defense industries increased their sales of spare parts to $300 million this year, demonstrating the growing popularity of Russian weapons world-wide. 


November 10, 2006: Russia and China signed an economic trade agreement that will allow Chinese firms to invest over ten billion dollars in Russia over the next four years. The Chinese economy is much more robust, and eager to expand into Russia.


In response to Poland receiving its first F-16 fighters, Russia sent Belarus four S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries, to help defend Russia and Belarus against these new warplanes.  Many Russians are still smarting from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the disappearance of its coalition of Eastern European allies a year earlier. All this protected Russia  against invasion from the West. Now, American fighters are in Poland. This is a nightmare come to life for many Russians who can remember when the Soviet Union was a superpower. 


November 7, 2006: Russia is again deploying the natural gas weapon, this time against Georgia. Russia says it will more than double the price it charges Georgia for natural gas, on January 1st, unless Georgia does as its told. Currently, Russia charges $110 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas (that's equal to $63 a barrel for oil). On January 1st, the price will go to $230 per 1,000 cubic meters. Armenia, a loyal ally of Russia, will continue to pay $110. Belarus, another loyal ally, is faced with an increase to $200 per 1,000 cubic meters, unless it hands over its ownership in the gas pipeline passing through the country. Nothing like a little extortion between friends. Belarus, run by the last of the old-school Soviet politicians, is broke, friendless, and unable to stand up to Russia. 


November 5, 2006: The dispute with Venezuela over the quality of the AK-103 rifles has been resolved, and the last 30,000 of the 100,000 rifles will arrive in Venezuela this month. Venezuela has also received one of the Mi-26 helicopter gunships and two of the Su-30 warplanes it recently bought from Russia. 


November 4, 2006: In the last ten weeks, 260 Chechen rebels have accepted the amnesty. As a result, the amount of terrorist violence has sharply declined, but not disappeared. Many of the Chechen terrorists, especially those motivated by religion, have moved to Iraq or Afghanistan.