Although Russia has announced
ambitious military construction and rebuilding programs, when you do the math,
you realize that the Russian military is still in decline. For example,
Russia's aging ICBM force, which has gotten little money in the last decade, is
still wasting away. This despite some new missile construction. Over the next
decade, Russia's ICBM forces will decline from nearly 700, to under 200.
Similar declines are underway for ground, naval and air forces. Aiding this collapse
is the continuing corruption, particularly when it comes to procurement. All
the stealing means that the military pays more than it should, for less than it
is supposed to get. This is one reason for increasingly hostile diplomacy in
response to NATO forces on Russia's borders. After three ruinous invasions in
the past two centuries, such paranoia ("of course NATO is planning to
invade us") has become acceptable in Russia. The decline in Russian ICBM
forces is one reason Russia is so opposed to the anti-missile system the U.S.
is building in Eastern Europe (to protect Europe from Iranian ballistic
November 26, 2007:
Public protests in the capital, against new government regulations that
make it more difficult to form effective opposition parties, were broken up by
police. Opposition leaders were arrested.
November 22, 2007: In southern Russia, near the
Caucasus, a bus was apparently hit by a roadside bomb, killing five civilians
and wounding a dozen. There's a lot less terrorist violence in the Caucasus,
but there are still several hundred Islamic terrorists in the region.
November 19, 2007: An agreement has been reached
with the U.S., to ensure that less weapons grade plutonium is produced in
Russia, and that 34 tons of existing plutonium is processed into power plant
fuel (that cannot be used for weapons.)
November 15, 2007: Not all Russian are gone from
Georgia, as contingents still remain in the breakaway districts of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia. Georgia is not happy with this.
November 13, 2007:
Diplomats from Russia and India hustled to come up with more public
signs of mutual cooperation. This is
needed to counteract the increasing acrimony from arms deals gone bad. India is
getting stiffed by the Russians on several major deals (a converted aircraft
carrier, air transports for AWACS, fighter aircraft upgrades and maintenance,
etc), that make more headlines in India than in Russia. But other foreign firms
are getting more attention in India, and many key arms export markets the
Russians now dominate, appear at risk.
November 11, 2007:
Russian arms exporters expect to increase sales to Venezuela, from the
current $4 billion, to over $10 billion.