Efforts to negotiate a new nuclear weapons treaty (to replace the one that expired last December), are stalemated over Russian insistence that the U.S. promise to not install any anti-missile systems anywhere that could possibly intercept Russian ballistic missiles. The U.S. refuses to make such a promise, partly because, missile defenses against Iran or North Korea would also be capable of intercepting Russian missiles. Russia reacted with considerable hostility when Romania recently announced willingness to host American anti-ballistic missile systems. Romania, like most East European nations, likes the idea of shooting down Russian ballistic missiles.
Russia has become the largest supplier of weapons to South America. The U.S. had long been the main provider, but the United States is reluctant to participate in the sharp growth (over fifty percent in the last five years) in military spending down south. Russia arms sales, suffering from loss of business with long time major customers India and China, have been getting a lot of new business from Arab nations, as well as South America.
February 16, 2010: Russia and Abkhazia announced that a Russian military base would be built in Abkhazia. Last year, Russia took over border security in South Ossetia (population 50,000) and Abkhazia (population 200,000), two areas formerly part of Georgia. Last year, these two ethnic separatist areas have declared themselves independent, but they have actually become part of Russia. Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, and a hostile relationship (going back centuries) with Russia. Now Georgia has to live with the fact that Russia annexed six percent of its population and territory, and no one can do anything about it. This annoys the UN, as Russia has, in effect, taken two provinces from neighboring Georgia, and gotten away with it.
February 15, 2010: Chechen Islamic terrorist leader Doku Umarov announced that attacks will be moved from the Caucasus to the rest of Russia. This is not as scary as it sounds, as the Chechen Islamic terrorists have been trying to move their violence outside the Caucasus, and succeeded a few times, but counter-terror efforts have prevented any attacks in the last five years, and that doesn't seem likely to change.
February 14, 2010: The government unexpectedly announced that its long (about two years) delayed delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems should go forward. Iran complained recently, and said it had built its own systems (which was another way of saying the Chinese had sold them systems based on stolen S-300 technology). Israel and the West have been pressuring Russia not to deliver the S-300s.
In Dagestan, someone fired on a police vehicle, killing two policemen.
February 12, 2010: In Igusetia, police attacked an Islamic terrorist hideout, and killed 18 terror suspects.
February 11, 2010: Vietnam signed a contract to buy twelve more Su-30 jet fighters. Vietnam is becoming a client state for Russia, in part to obtain a military ally for potential clashes with traditional foe China.
February 5, 2010: In the Caucasus, at least sixteen people (police, terrorists and civilians) died in Islamic terrorist violence in the last week. One of the dead was an Egyptian al Qaeda leader, Makhmoud Mokhammed Shaaban.
February 2, 2010: The website of a major independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, was attacked. It was believed that pro-government hackers were responsible, as part of a broader effort to stifle anti-government media.
January 31, 2010: Police arrested over a hundred of the thousands of demonstrators who appeared in Moscow and St Petersburg, to protest the growing police state practices of the government. Authorities refuse to grant permits for such demonstrations.
January 30, 2010: Russia and Japan are arguing over the justification of Russian Coast Guard helicopters firing on two Japanese fishing boats last week. There were no injuries, but at least twenty bullet holes were found in the boats. The two countries disagree exactly where the boats were (near four disputed islands). Russia insists the boats were in Russian waters illegally, the Japanese disagree.