Archive for the ‘Intermediate Nuclear Forces’ Category

Russia and The West: How To Reverse Escalation of Tension and Confrontation?

November 18, 2008

Barely one hour after Barack Obama’s victory speech, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad that could attack U.S. military targets in Poland. The targets are limited, small in number and do not yet really exist: They will exist if and when the United States completes the ballistic missile defense system it plans to place in Poland, along with a sophisticated radar component in the Czech Republic.

The reaction in Europe and the United States ranged from outrage in Poland to serious concern at NATO headquarters and disappointment in the White House. Russia claims it has been backed into a corner by U.S. erosion of key cornerstones of European and global security and by aggressive moves to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into areas that affect Russia’s vital security interests.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President ... 
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President Hu Jintao shake hands during a bilateral meeting after the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington November 15, 2008.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir Rodionov

How did we arrive at this point? Russia sees new threats from NATO and the United States, and they see new threats from Russia. And even where they see common dangers — as in the case of potential and actual missile threats from Asia and the Middle East — they cannot find common ground on how to deal with them. How do we reverse this steady escalation of tension and confrontation?

By Greg Austin
UPI

Related:
Russia’s Medvedev Learned PR Skills from Hitler, Chavez, Khrushchev and Putin?

Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

Read the rest:
http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2008/11/17/
Outside_View_Russias_new_start_–_Part_1/UPI-371
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Re-election Strategy or New Cold War?

October 25, 2007

By James Hackett
For Peace and Freedom
October 25, 2007

The question in Washington and European capitals this fall is whether Moscow’s aggressive behavior is the onset of a new Cold War or just a gambit to win votes in upcoming elections. The central issue is the future of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s hard-earned democracy is rapidly morphing back into an authoritarian state under President Putin, who is eager to stay in power. He probably could scrap the constitution and become president for life, but has said he will not do that. More likely, he plans to put a puppet in the presidency and rule from behind the scenes or as prime minister, and then run for president again in 2012.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

The Russian constitution adopted in 1993 states in Chapter 4, Article 81, “No one person shall hold the office of president for more than two terms in succession.” Mr. Putin was elected in 2000 and won reelection with a 71 percent landslide in 2004. He will complete two terms in 2008, so is ineligible under the constitution to run next year, but could run in 2012 or later.

Elections to the Duma will be held on December 2, after which the political parties will nominate their candidates for president. That election will be March 2, with the new president taking office May 7. Less than six months before the election Vladimir Putin stands astride Russian politics like a colossus, with polls showing an approval rate as high as 80 percent.

Videos have been released showing Mr. Putin in campaign mode, a vigorous 55, horseback riding and fishing. For months he has been taking step after step to appeal to the majority of Russians who yearn for a return to the great power status their country lost when the Soviet Union collapsed. He is taking advantage of the booming global market for energy, renationalizing the oil and gas industry and using the proceeds to rebuild Russia’s military.

For years, Russia has been developing the Topol-M mobile ballistic missile, the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, a new multiple-warhead missile, a new evading warhead, the S-400 missile interceptor, fifth-generation fighter planes and four new missile-firing submarines. Progress was slow and funds scarce, but the recent surge in oil and gas wealth has made it possible to expand and accelerate these programs.

Now Mr. Putin is using his improving military to throw his weight around, confronting countries from Georgia to Norway. He has resumed long-range nuclear bomber flights, opposes missile defenses in Europe, claims the North Pole for Russia and suspends cooperation under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. He also sells air defense missiles to Syria and nuclear technology to Iran, suspends gas and oil shipments to pressure other countries, and threatens both to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear forces (INF) treaty and to target NATO countries by basing missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave.

Instead of joining Europe and America against the threat of militant Islam, Mr. Putin has joined with China, Iran and other authoritarian regimes against the West. All this appears to be fine with most Russians. A poll by the Yuri-Levada Institute found that 68 percent of Russians said their top priority was security. Democracy was hardly mentioned. Other results showed that 75 percent consider Russia a Eurasian state, while only 10 percent see themselves part of the West.

Mr. Putin could decide to emulate his friend, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, and make himself president for life. Amending the Russian constitution requires large majorities in both the Federation Council and Duma, which he probably could get from those rubber-stamp bodies, but it would require compomises he may not want to make. Instead, he probably will handpick a temporary successor.

Until a few weeks ago, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB officer and recent defense minister, was considered the most likely choice. But he could be a strong leader and Mr. Putin may prefer to name a more subservient caretaker for one term. That could explain why he recently chose Viktor Zubkov, a loyal 66-year old nonentity, to be prime minister. Mr. Zubkov may also be Mr. Putin’s choice to keep the president’s seat warm until he can legally return to that office in 2012.

The bluster from Moscow could be just a run-up to the elections, to show voters President Putin takes a hard line toward foreign powers he claims are encroaching on Russia’s borders. This xenophobic anti-West foreign policy seems very popular in Russia. It may also reflect a resurgence of Cold War thinking by Mr. Putin and his ex-KGB colleagues, who spent decades confronting the West.

Whether we are in for a brief pre-election spell of Russian aggressiveness or a long-term struggle with a new anti-Western axis led by Moscow and Beijing remains to be seen. We will have a better idea next spring, when Russia chooses its next president.

James Hackett is a former national security official who now lives and writes in Carlsbad, Calif.  He is a frequent contributor to the Washington Times and other national journals and newspapers.

Related:

The Problem of Putin

Putin Digs In

Cold War Redux?

Putin Digs In

October 14, 2007

Vladimir Putin of Russia boasts of a resurgent Russia and scolds the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense. But his game is a potentially dangerous one.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 15, 2007

For the last several years, gradually at first but at an accelerating tempo, Russia has reasserted itself in a revision of its Cold War ways. Once hopeful of a new Russia willing and able to cooperate more readily and effectively with the rest of the world community in fighting terrorism, dealing with nations like Iran and North Korea, and developing missile defenses; the U.S., NATO allies and others began to see a new more cantankerous Russia.

Some call this the “resurgent Russia.” We call it the recidivist Russia.

The driving force in all of this is President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

Mr. Putin’s reluctance to join further with the West on issues such as fighting terrorism and fostering democracy, especially among the former Soviet Republics, has turned into intransigence.

The differences between Putin, the West, and the United States especially, were never more starkly on display than they were on October 12, 2007. In an effort to resolve differences between the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense waited to meet with Mr. Putin before they met with their Russian counterparts.

They waited. And waited.

In what looked like an intentional display of power, some say President Putin made his guests wait for something like 40 minutes.

Then Mr. Putin launched upon a derisive criticism of the U.S. and especially the missile defense effort to include the Czech Republic and Poland.

Now Mr. Putin insists, unless the U.S. missile defense plan is scrapped or vastly revised, Russia will withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and deploy medium range nuclear armed ballistic missiles facing Europe. He has already walked away from the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which limited concentrations of troops and tanks, as an expression of anger at US plans to site a single radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow would be forced to take measures to “neutralize” the missile defense shield if it is built as planned.

It seems Mr. Putin will attempt to use European fear and public opinion plus his vast oil wealth as the levers of power to convince a weakened U.S. president to relent on missile defense.

As soon as Rice and Gates left Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow regarded the joint Japan-U.S. missile defense effort as an “object of concern.”

So it isn’t just the Poland-Czech Republic plan that bothers the Russians – it is anything labeled missile defense.

Recall also that Russia and China conducted their first ever joint military training exercise under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). China and Russia have united to block U.S. and U.K. proposed sanctions against President Ahmadinejad and Iran over its nuclear program. And Russia and China have even blocked sanctions against Myanmar.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters on the way home from Russia: “My own view is that the Europeans are beginning to wonder what the Russians are all about.”

Gates continued, “And I think it would be frankly harmful to Russia’s interests in Europe to unilaterally suspend or withdraw from this treaty [the INF], in terms of the sense of security and reassurance in Europe of the predictability of the future.”

U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan commands the European Command and he wants to curtail plans to reduce U.S. forces in Europe. He said: “In this era of persistent conflict, we have some fault lines that are there in the European Command (area of responsibility) that we have to pay attention to. We don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of a resurgent Russia.”

Finally, the day after the dressing down by President Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rice said:
“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development.”

She added, “I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma.”

What’s next? We’ll have to wait and see….

Related:
Putin Says Nyet
https://johnibii.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/putin-again-nyet-to-us-misile-defense/
and
Cold War Redux
https://johnibii.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/is-mr-putin-listening/
and
Kremlinology 101 Redux

Putin: Russia wants medium-range missiles

October 13, 2007

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
The Telegraph (UK)
October 13, 2007

President Vladimir Putin has dealt a fresh blow to the West’s security guarantees when he raised the possibility that Russia could build medium-range nuclear weapons capable of hitting Europe.

The Russian leader delivered his warning during a tetchy meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, and Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, who were in Moscow hoping to end an impasse over Washington’s plans to erect an anti-missile shield on former Warsaw Pact territory.

But the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow would be forced to take measures to “neutralize” the shield if it is built as planned.

Mr Putin has already said that Russia would target its nuclear arsenal at Europe for the first time since the Cold War if the shield is not moved from its proposed locations in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/
2007/10/12/wputin112.xml

Gates warns Russia against break with arms treaties

October 13, 2007

By Jim Mannion
October 13, 2007

RAF MILDENHALL, England (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Saturday that Russia will hurt its position in Europe if it unilaterally breaks with a treaty limiting the deployment of conventional forces in Europe.

“My own view is that the Europeans are beginning to wonder what the Russians are all about,” he told reporters.

“And I think it would be frankly harmful to Russia’s interests in Europe to unilaterally suspend or withdraw from this treaty, in terms of the sense of security and reassurance in Europe of the predictability of the future.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071013/pl_afp/russiausmilitarygates_
071013182640