Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Naval Shps from Around The Globe Watch For Pirates. Where is China?

December 4, 2008

Among the naval forces of the world on guard against Somali pirates, China is conspicuously absent.  Today, a Chinese general asks “If China wants to be a world power, how come we are poweless so often?”

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A Chinese general has called for the country’s navy to join the fight against Somali pirates, saying the mission would boost China’s international stature and give its sailors valuable experience in fighting open ocean combat operations far from their home ports.

Chinese ships have been among those seized in a wave of pirate attacks this year, including the fishing vessel Tianyu No. 8, seized in mid-November.

International warships from NATO and countries including Russia patrol the Gulf of Aden and have created a security corridor in the area under a U.S.-led initiative, but attacks have not abated.

Russia says it will send more ships to patrol the area off the coast of Somalia.
Russian Navy warship passes through the Suez canal and goes toward pirate patrol….

“Piracy doesn’t just interfere in our country’s navigational safety, it also impedes our development and interests,” Major General Jin Yinan told state radio.

“I think our navy should send ships to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties,” Jin said, according to a transcript of the interview posted Thursday on the Web site of the official China News Service. The date of the interview was not given.

In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, ... 
In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, Indian warship INS Tabar, right, escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from a hijack attempt by Somali pirates. The Indian navy says the INS Tabar dedicated to fighting pirates has successfully fought off an attempted pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, sparking explosions and a fire on the suspected pirate ship late Tuesday, Nov. 18.(AP Photo/Indian Navy, HO, File)

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy has little experience operating at long-range, its primary mission being coastal patrol. However, the service is believed to have major ambitions, possibly including the eventual deployment of an aircraft carrier.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_re_as/as_china_piracy_1

The French warship Nivose escorts commercial ships in the Gulf ... 
The French warship Nivose escorts commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/Eric Cabanis)

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Russia’s Medvedev says he’s Upbeat About America With President Obama

December 4, 2008

President Dmitry Medvedev said he hopes Russia’s relations with the United States improve after President-elect Barack Obama takes office, according to an interview released Thursday.

Moscow’s relations with Washington have been strained by disputes over U.S. missile defense plans and Russia’s war with Georgia in August.

But Medvedev dismissed suggestions that the chill could lead to a new Cold War, and said he expects the new U.S. administration “to take constructive, reasonable stance, to show willingness to compromise on the most difficult issues.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,left, and Prime Minister Vladimir ...
When journalists see photographs like this from Russia they often ask, “Who is the school master?”  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,left, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seen at their meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

“What we have recently heard from Washington makes me feel moderately optimistic,” he said, without elaborating, in an interview with Indian Broadcasting Corporation Doordarshan that was posted on the Kremlin Web site Thursday.

Medvedev and Obama spoke by telephone last month, but the details of the conversation were not released.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_re_eu/eu_
russia_us;_ylt=Ag2VravpuxE68McMAS2GMOms0NUE

Many Nations Sign Cluster Bomb Ban; U.S. and Russia Refrain

December 3, 2008

The United States and Russia were absent Wednesday as representatives from countries from around the world gathered to sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs.

CNN
Some 111 countries were due to adopt the Convention on Cluster Munitions at an all-day signing ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

But four of the biggest cluster bomb makers — Russia, China, Israel and the United States, which claims the devices are a vital part of its defense strategy, stayed away.

Cluster Munition Coalition activists behind the agreement expressed disappointment at the absence of the big four, but insisted it wouldn’t undermine the treaty as it passes into international law.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing that those countries aren’t here, but at the same time, the strong message that this treaty sends will make it very clear to those countries that these are unacceptable weapons and inappropriate in future conflicts,” CMC Co-Chair Richard Moyes told CNN from Oslo.

French troops examine cluster bombs collected after the Lebanon conflict of 2006.

Above: French troops examine cluster bombs collected after the Lebanon conflict of 2006.

“The treaty and the stigma that it builds will make it practically and politically much more difficult for them to use these weapons again in the future,” Moyes added about the absent countries.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/12/03/cluster.
bomb.ban/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

December 3, 2008

Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama.  But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…

President-elect Barack Obama waits to get on his plane with ... 
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.

The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.”  For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.

Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. ... 
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran

One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”

In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda.  Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.

And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov

Terrorism could be the number one priority.  Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group  Lashkar-e-Taiba  blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.

On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.

Is another 9-11 in America’s future?  And are we ready to defend or respond?

Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority.  Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.

A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.

Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.

Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.

You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.

America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.

Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.

Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.

*****

From Wikipedia:

It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

NATO agrees to gradual reengagement with Russia

December 2, 2008

NATO foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday on a gradual resumption of contacts with Russia, suspended after Moscow’s intervention in Georgia, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.

“Allies agreed on what I would qualify as a conditional and graduated reengagement with Russia,” De Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is pictured prior ...
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is pictured prior the Foreign Affairs Minister meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. NATO agreed Tuesday to gradually resume high-level talks with Russia, which were frozen over the August conflict in the Caucasus, and to deepen ties with former Soviet states Georgia and Ukraine.(AFP/John Thys)

–Reuters

Russia Vows To Defeat U.S. Defenses With Missiles

December 2, 2008

Russia plans to upgrade its missiles to allow them to evade American weapons in space and penetrate any prospective missile shield, a Russian officer said Monday. The officer, Col. Gen. Nikolai Y. Solovtsov, chief of strategic missile forces, said Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles would be modernized to protect them from space-based components of the United States missile defense system, the news agency Interfax reported. He also said the military would commission new RS-24 missiles with systems to help penetrate a missile shield. The Kremlin has fiercely opposed the United States plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a related radar system in the Czech Republic.

–Associated Press

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile site in Russia in October. Russia is developing missiles designed to avoid being hit by space-based missile defence systems that could be deployed by the United States, a top Russian general was quoted as saying Monday.
(AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov)

Russia's intercontinental ballistic missile takes off from Plesetsk ... 
Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missile takes off from Plesetsk launching pad, May 29, 2007.(Str/Reuters)

The RS-24 is a new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, which is equipped with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warhead. The RS-24 ICBM, which will replace the older SS-18 and SS-19 missiles by 2050, is expected to greatly strengthen the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) strike capability, as well as that of its allies until the mid-21st century. The RS-24 missile will be deployed both in silos and on mobile platforms and together with the Topol-M single-warhead ICBM will constitute the core of Russia’s SMF in the future.

On 22 October 2008 Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) commander, said the new-generation RS-24 multiple-warhead missile system will enter service with the SMF in 2009n said on Wednesday. “We have carried out a series of successful ground and flight tests of the RS-24 missile. The new ICBM system will be put in service in 2009,” he said. Solovtsov said the new system would “strengthen Russia’s nuclear deterrence,” including its capability to penetrate missile defense shields, and will serve to counter elements of a U.S. missile defense system deployed in Central Europe.

The RS-24 was first tested on May 29, 2007 after a secret military R&D project, and then again on December 25, 2007. A new test launch of the RS-24 from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia has been planned for the end of 2008.

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Russia’s military is planning to upgrade its missiles to allow them to evade American weapons in space and penetrate any prospective missile shield, a Russian general said Monday.

In comments to the Interfax news agency, Russia‘s Strategic Missile Forces chief, Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, as saying that Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles will be modernized to protect them from space-based components of the U.S. missile defense system.

The upgrade will make the missiles’ warheads capable of flying “outside the range” of the space-based system, Solovtsov was quoted as saying.

He didn’t elaborate, but Russian officials have previously boasted about prospective new warheads capable of making sharp maneuvers to dodge missile defense systems.

Solovtsov also reportedly said the military will commission new RS-24 missiles equipped with state-of-the-art systems to help penetrate a missile shield. He did not specify that Moscow intended to penetrate a U.S. missile shield, but the Kremlin has fiercely opposed the U.S. plan to deploy a battery of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a related radar in the Czech Republic.

Russia has criticized U.S. plans for space-based weapons, saying they could trigger a new arms race. Washington has resisted efforts by Russia and China to negotiate a global ban on weapons in space.

Reflecting Russia’s suspicions about U.S. intentions, Solovtsov alleged Monday that the U.S. is considering the scenario of a first nuclear strike that would destroy most Russian missiles. A few surviving Russian weapons launched in retaliation could then be destroyed by the U.S. missile defense system.

Read the rest from AP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_missiles_6
 

Don’t rush Georgia and Ukraine into NATO

December 2, 2008

Several scholars have recently come forward to say it may be too early to bring Ukraine and georgia into NATO — and thus anger Russia….

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By Michael O’Hanlon
The washington Times
According to press reports, the Bush administration is pursuing a final bold foreign policy move in its last weeks. Bypassing normal procedures, it wants European allies and Canada to agree to offer Georgia and Ukraine rapid membership into NATO.

This is a singularly bad idea, much more likely to worsen U.S.-Russia relations and increase the risk of war than to do any real good for the new democracies of Central Europe.

The idea might seem a natural response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Georgia in August, by any measure a disproportionate and unwarranted action in response to tensions over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But as most now realize, Russia’s aggression, while unjustified, was not unprovoked. Among other things, Georgia had fired artillery rounds carelessly into disputed regions at the outset of the crisis. President Mikhail Saakashvili’s desire to reintegrate South Ossetia and Abkhazia back into Georgia proper, while understandable at one level, has been pursued with wanton disregard for the role of the international community and for the need to pursue this goal carefully and peacefully. Future policymaking must seek to deter not only Russia, but other regional actors, from the kind of irresponsible behavior that pushed the Caucasus toward all-out war just three months ago.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
8/dec/02/dont-rush-georgia-and-ukraine-into-nato/

 

By Charles King
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page B02

The tiny village of Ushguli lies in an emerald-green valley in the far north of the republic of Georgia. Hemmed in by the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus mountains, it’s a jumble of slate buildings flanking a glacier-fed stream. When I last visited, local elders showed me around the medieval stone towers that dot the countryside. A millennium ago, defense was a self-help game, and families erected private fortresses to guard against vengeful neighbors and foreign raiders.

Political leaders in the United States and Europe are careering down a path that could make faraway Ushguli the eastern border of NATO. Foreign ministers from the transatlantic alliance’s 26 member states will meet this week in Brussels to decide whether Georgia and Ukraine should take an important step toward membership. But Western leaders would be wise to act slowly, or the world’s most successful military alliance could become as irrelevant as the ancient watchtowers of the upland Caucasus.

Last April, NATO put off both countries’ applications but promised to revisit the issue in December. The August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia has sharpened the debate. To some Western observers, Russia’s intervention in Georgia demonstrated the need to expand the alliance and block Moscow’s imperial ambitions. Without the security guarantees provided by NATO membership, the logic goes, both Georgia and Ukraine will find themselves increasingly threatened by the bear lumbering forth from the Kremlin.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/2
8/AR2008112802251.html

Russian Expert Says Mumbai Attackers Trained By US Funded Pakistanis

November 30, 2008

A top Russian counter-terrorism expert on Sunday underlined that the Mumbai attackers were not “ordinary terrorists” and were probably trained by the special operations forces set up in Pakistan by the US intelligence prior to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

By The Times of India

“The handwriting and character of the Mumbai events demonstrates that they were not ordinary terrorists,” said Vladimir Klyukin, an Afghan war veteran.

“Behind this terrorist attack there are ‘Green Flag’ special operations forces, which were created by the Americans in Pakistan, just an year before the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and in the initial period were under full US control,” stressed Klyukin, a veteran of the special “Vympel” commando group of the former Soviet KGB.

Pigeons fly near the burning Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai November ... 
Pigeons fly near the burning Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai November 27, 2008.(Punit Paranjpe/Reuters)

He said for such guerrilla operations at least two-three years of preparatory work with the involvement of experienced instructors is required.

Klyukin did not rule out that the Mumbai attackers could have taken part in similar attacks in other regions.

“People from the streets, without any planning and training are simply not able to hold four big complexes in a city so long,” Soviet special services veteran was quoted as saying by largest Russian Interfax news agency.

Read the rest:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai_attackers_trained_by_
special_forces/articleshow/3776704.cms

Russia Wants NATO, Europe To Ease Moscow’s Suspicions

November 30, 2008

Russia has reason to feel betrayed by the process of NATO expansion, begun in 1997. Seven years earlier, the Russians believe, American and German officials working on German reunification pledged not to take advantage of Moscow‘s weakness by extending NATO into Russia’s traditional backyard. By reneging on that promise, Western leaders have made Russians doubt their trustworthiness.

By Michael Mandelbaum | NEWSWEEK

To the Kremlin, the expansion process has also seemed to be based on dishonest premises. U.S. officials advertised it as a way of promoting democracy, of forcing ex-Soviet states to reform. But the democratic commitment of NATO’s first ex-communist entrants—Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic—was never in doubt. And if the Americans truly believed that NATO membership was the best way to guarantee free elections and constitutional rights, why didn’t they immediately offer it to the largest ex-communist country of them all, Russia itself? Instead, Moscow was told it would never be able to join.

NATO expansion taught Russia another lesson. The process went ahead because Moscow was too weak to stop it. This told the Russians that to have a say in European affairs, they needed to be able to assert themselves militarily. Last summer’s war in Georgia was one result.

Given this history, what should the West do now about Russia? We have no good options. In the wake of the war, some in the United States renewed the call to welcome Georgia into NATO. But NATO is a mutual-defense pact. Making Georgia a member would mean that we’d have to come to the country’s aid should fighting with Russia break out once more. This would require putting Western troops, tanks, aircraft and perhaps even nuclear weapons on Russia’s border—to which the Russians would respond with comparable forces. The U.S. military is already seriously overstretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet doing nothing would look like a retreat in the face of Russian aggression.

In the short term, the incoming U.S. president needs to think like a doctor: “First, do no harm.” This means deferring any offer of NATO membership to Georgia (and Ukraine, for that matter). Some may object that this will reward Russia for its belligerence. Perhaps, but the consequences of deferral are preferable to the costs of expansion—including a serious deterioration in relations with Moscow.

At the same time, the West should renew its security cooperation with Russia. NATO must eventually either include Russia or give….

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171258

Venezuela, Russia to start naval exercises Monday

November 30, 2008

Venezuela‘s state news agency says three days of joint naval exercises with Russia will kick off in Venezuelan waters on Monday.

The state-run Bolivarian News Agency says the operation involving 11 Venezuelan and four Russian ships has been christened Venrus 2008.

Saturday’s report said exercises will include anti-aircraft defense and tactics to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. Some will involve helicopters and planes.

The Russian squadron arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday, led by the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great — the first deployment of its kind since the Cold War.

It’s widely seen as a demonstration of Kremlin anger over aid delivered by U.S. warships to Georgia after its fighting with Russia. Russian officials deny that.

–Associated Press

Peter the Great