Archive for the ‘former Soviet’ Category

Russia’s Medvedev calls for talks with Obama

November 16, 2008

The Dmitry Medvedev that made his first appearance in the U.S. capital as Russia’s president was not the same man Russians usually see at home.

He was confident, even charming, in reaching out Saturday in a spirit of cooperation to the incoming administration of Barack Obama.

He showed none of the bluster and tough talk that he has adopted in recent months in an awkward imitation of Vladimir Putin, his predecessor and mentor who still leads the country as prime minister.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev prepares to speak at the Washington ...
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev prepares to speak at the Washington Club in Washington, November 15, 2008. Medvedev visited Washington to attend the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy on Saturday.REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)

Putin’s choice of Medvedev to succeed him earlier this year was seen as an effort to re-brand Russia, to improve its relations with the West and Western investors.

But the August war with Georgia, a former Soviet republic that has allied itself with Washington, led to a change in course. Medvedev quickly began to sound like Putin in casting the West as the aggressor.

The Nov. 4 election of Obama seemed to offer an opportunity for Russia and the United States to make a fresh start. But instead of welcoming Obama’s election, Medvedev issued a challenge.

In a Nov. 5 speech, he warned that Russia would move short-range missiles to NATO’s borders to “neutralize” a planned U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe if necessary.

Medvedev has since backed off slightly. He stressed Saturday that Russia would not act unless the United States took the first step and expressed hope that the new U.S. administration will be open to negotiations.

Medvedev said there is a lack of trust between Russia and the United States, but it is “in our power” to create a partnership.

He called for talks with Obama as soon as possible after he becomes president Jan. 20 and suggested that missile defense would be a good place to start.

“I hope that the new president, the new administration will have a desire to discuss this,” Medvedev told members of the Council on Foreign Relations. “At least the first signals that we have received indicate that our new partners are thinking about the problems and do not simply plan to rubber stamp the plans.”

The Russian president, who was in Washington for the global financial summit, gave a short speech and then settled into an armchair next to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to continue the discussion with her. The choice of Albright carried additional significance since she acted as a surrogate for Obama at the summit.

The planned missile defense system was championed by the Bush administration as necessary to protect Europe from Iran. Russia, however, sees it as a Cold War-style project that could weaken its nuclear deterrent.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_
on_go_pr_wh/us_russia_3

Submarine Deaths Underscore Russian Navy Decline

November 10, 2008

An accident aboard a Russian nuclear attack submarine that killed at least 20 and injured 22 late Saturday, is the latest in a series of undersea tragedies that have struck the Russian Navy as it struggles to regain Soviet-era capacities.

The ship’s nuclear reactor was undamaged in the incident, and survivors evacuated to the naval base at Vladivostok on Sunday, Russian officials said.

This video grab from Russian NTV channel shows the Russian nuclear ...
This video grab from Russian NTV channel shows the Russian nuclear submarine. Russian officials are investigating a gas poisoning accident on a nuclear submarine due to be leased to India that killed 20 people, as local people mourned the victims.(AFP/Ntv)

“During sea trials of a nuclear-powered submarine of the Pacific Fleet the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people, including servicemen and workers,” Russian naval spokesman Cpt. Igor Dyagalo told journalists.

“The submarine is not damaged, its reactor works as normal, and background radiation levels are normal,” he added.

The malfunction of the firefighting system, which spewed deadly freon gas through the forward compartments of K-152 Nerpa, an Akula-II class attack sub undergoing diving trials in the Sea of Japan, has a little-known international twist. Though neither government has officially admitted it, both Indian and Russian media have been reporting for months that the 12,000-ton Nerpa was to be handed over to the Indian Navy early next year under a 10-year lease.

The acquisition would multiply India’s military capabilities in the sensitive Indian Ocean, and raise questions about Russia’s role in proliferating nuclear technologies. Indian news agencies reported last week that a team of 40 Indian naval specialists was slated to arrive later this month in Vladivostok to learn about the ship.

“India was one of the main supporters of Russia’s defense industries after the Soviet Union collapsed, and provided funds that helped to keep our aviation and shipbuilding going,” says Vadim Kozulin, a military expert with the PIR Center, a security think tank in Moscow. “It’s only been in the past three years that Russian military procurement budgets have been greater than the earnings from exports.”

According to media reports, the deal was struck in 2004 in which India paid up to $650 million to refit the Admiral Gorshkov, a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, and assist completion of the Nerpa, which had lain on blocks at the Komsomolsk-na-Amur shipyard since its construction was largely abandoned in 1991.

The Akula-II class of nuclear subs, a late Soviet-era design, are able to dive deeper, more than 600 meters, run more silently than previous attack subs, and move at speeds up to 33 knots while fully submerged.

Russian seamen line up on an unidentified submarine believed ...
Russian seamen line up on an unidentified submarine believed to be an Akula-class submarine during a military parade training in Vladivostok in this July 25, 2008 file photo. More than 20 people were killed and another 21 injured in an accident aboard a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean, the navy said on Sunday, in the worst submarine disaster since the Kursk sank eight years ago. The RIA agency quoted a source in the Amur Shipbuilding Enterprise as saying the accident occurred aboard the Nerpa, a Project 971 Shchuka-B attack submarine, known inside NATO as an Akula-class submarine. Picture taken July 25, 2008.REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev (RUSSIA)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20081110/ts_
csm/osub;_ylt=AtY6WORt6v_GyVKHZp.B1Cys0NUE

***********************

By Sergei L. Loiko
The Los Angeles Times
November 10, 2008
Reporting from Moscow — A false alarm was responsible for setting off the emission of deadly fire-extinguishing gases on a new Russian nuclear-powered submarine in the Sea of Japan, killing 20 people and injuring 21 late Saturday, Russian navy officials said.

All but three of the dead were civilian specialists and experts on board the Shark-class submarine Nerpa for the performance test trial, according to the federal prosecutors office.

The ship’s nuclear reactor was not affected in the accident, and the submarine returned safely to port on its own, said Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo. The reactor was operating properly, and the radiation levels were normal, Dygalo told the Russian news agency Interfax on Sunday.

Dygalo said that, of 208 people on board, 91 were crew members and the rest were civilian specialists and experts overseeing the testing of the submarine.

Analysts said the large presence of civilians was probably a crucial factor in the high casualty count. The regular crew would have been far better prepared for the emergency situation when the gas-emission siren rang, said Igor Kurdin, a former Russian nuclear missile submarine commander and head of the St. Petersburg Submariners Club.

“Even if you are the president of the country present on a submarine,” Kurdin said, “you can’t rely on your security detail to save your life in a fire, because you need to be able to save your own life by using the rescue equipment properly and quickly.”

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
world/la-fg-russiasub10-2008nov10
,0,3939263.story?track=rss

***********************

MOSCOW – India’s navy was supposed to lease the brand-new Russian nuclear submarine that suffered an accident over the weekend which killed 20 people, news reports said Monday.

Read the rest:
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/081110
/world/russia_submarine_2

Russian Naval Fleet ‘May Leave Ukraine,’ Abandon Sevastopol After 200 Years

October 19, 2008

By Mark Franchetti
BBC

Russia’s deputy PM has told the BBC the country’s Black Sea Fleet will vacate its naval base in Sevastopol in 2017 if the Ukrainian government demands it.

Speaking exclusively to Panorama, Sergei Ivanov said Russia would seek to renew its lease on the Crimean port, but will move the Fleet if it cannot.

The move will anger nationalists who consider Sevastopol a part of Russia.

It is feared the port could become a flashpoint in already strained relations between Russia and the West.

We are not aggressive. We have recognised the territorial integrity of all former Soviet republics
Sergei Ivanov

Asked if he could envisage the Fleet not being based in the Crimea – its home for the last 225 years – Mr Ivanov, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s number two who oversees Russia’s military and industry, said:

“Yes I can imagine that easily after 2017. Why not, if the Ukrainian government then in power decides not to prolong the lease?”

Ships from Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet has been in Sevastopol for over 200 years

It will also surprise the West where in the wake of the war in Georgia many fear Moscow could seek to reclaim parts of the Crimea by force to secure the Fleet’s future.

‘British and US aggression’

Mr Ivanov however dismissed such claims as Cold War-style propaganda and gave Russia’s strongest assurances to date that it has no territorial ambitions.

“We are not aggressive,” said Mr Ivanov. “We have recognised the territorial integrity of all former Soviet republics. That was in 1991. Russia, of course, has no territorial ambitions regarding any former Soviet countries.”

Sergei Ivanov (left) and Mark Franchetti
Mr Ivanov spoke out against Nato expansion

“We are not going to start a war or attack any country. Right now, in fact, Russia does not fight any war at all. If you analyse how many wars the United States and Britain are fighting – it’s quite different,” he added.

The future of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol is a sensitive and emotional issue for most Russians.

The Crimea was handed over to Ukraine during Soviet times when the transfer was a mere legal technicality – and no-one envisaged the collapse of communism and Ukraine’s subsequent independence from Moscow.

Local opposition

In Sevastopol, most locals feel closer to Moscow than Kiev….

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7677152.stm