US Reassures Russia on Bases But Issues Warning Over Arms Sales - 2007

US Reassures Russia on Bases But Issues Warning Over Arms Sales


US Defence Secretary Robert Gates reassured Russia on Saturday that the Pentagon will not put military bases in ex-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine, but he criticised Moscow for arms sales to US foes Iran and Syria. Speaking at the Military Academy of General Staff, at the end of a tense two-day visit to Moscow, Gates said there would be no US bases in either Georgia or Ukraine. The Pentagon would not station troops there ""even if we were to be invited," Gates told Russian officers. The issue is of high sensitivity in Moscow, which has seen its longtime dominance of neighbouring countries severely diminished since the 1991 Soviet collapse. Both Georgia and Ukraine now have pro-Western leaderships that desire to join NATO. However, Gates criticised Moscow's weapons sales, accusing Iran of having "made no secret of its expansionist ambitions," and claiming that Syria is a conduit for weapons to the Lebanese guerrillas in Lebanon.

"The best way to describe it, is that at the end we decided to agree to disagree," Gates said of the issue, which was raised during meetings with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov and other officials. His speech came at the end of a visit dominated by a bitter US-Russian dispute over US missile defence plans which is unsettling bedrock arms control regimes that helped stabilise Europe during the Cold War. In a conciliatory tone, Gates said that "no nation suffered more from the last century's carnage and miscalculations than Russia."

"And today, arguably no nation stands to gain more from this century's possibilities," he said. "We are prepared to work with Russia -- and with the Russian military -- to try to turn possibility into reality for the peoples of both nations."

During talks here, in which he was accompanied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gates offered what he called "new ideas" for Russian participation in a regional missile defence system to protect both Russia and the West from ballistic missile attack. They included joint monitoring of missile early warning data and the stationing of Russian liaison officers at missile defence sites in the United States and Americans at sites in Russia, senior US officials said. Gates said Friday that cooperation at that level would represent a significant strategic shift in military relations between the United States and Russia. US officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared interested in the proposal, and the two sides have agreed to continue technical discussions. But in his only public exchange with Rice and Gates, Putin gave no indication that Russia intends to change course on missile defence or other arms control issues. These include a Russian threat to suspend participation on December 12 in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty which sets limits on troops and tanks in Europe. Putin also warned that Russia may not be able to continue to abide by the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty which abolished shorter and medium range nuclear missiles in Europe.

In his speech, Gates chose to ignore those disputes, and instead emphasise that the two countries confront similar security challenges. Gates recounted that the US military, which transformed itself into a high tech force during its Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union, has had to adapt to a different kind of conflict. "Since September 11 (2001), the US military has been confronted with new missions in Iraq and AFghanistan -- where initially quick conventional victories have given way to long, complex and grinding campaigns against violent, adaptive insurgencies," he said. "Though our nations and our militaries are in very different places today, we do face many of the same challenges," he said. Gates said he wanted to create "a climate of trust and transparency as our countries take on some of the thornier geopolitical issues of the day."


Putin Criticizes Top U.S. Officials on Missile Defense

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sharply upbraided the visiting American secretaries of state and defense on Friday as little specific progress was made during negotiations intended to resolve growing disagreements over missile defense and other security issues. During a day of lengthy negotiations here, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates presented what they described as a series of “new ideas” intended to narrow the divide between the countries. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, concluded the unusual four-way meeting of Russian and American ministers of foreign affairs and defense by labeling the proposals constructive but insufficient. Mr. Lavrov explicitly called for the United States to freeze its plans for developing missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic while discussions continued on a compromise. But Ms. Rice made it clear it would not halt its efforts. The United States, Ms. Rice said, “is engaged in discussions, negotiations, with our allies, and those will continue.”

Although both sides agreed that their ministers of foreign affairs and defense would meet again in six months, the talks did little to dispel Russian concerns over American intentions on missile defense or to persuade the Kremlin to cancel its threat to suspend compliance with a treaty covering the array of conventional forces in Europe. Mr. Putin himself set the tone for the day when he kept Ms. Rice and Mr. Gates waiting 40 minutes for a morning meeting at his suburban residence, or dacha, and then surprised them with a derisive lecture in front of the television cameras. Mr. Putin described the American plan to build two components of a missile defense system in formerly communist nations of Central Europe as a reaction to a threat that had not yet materialized. “Of course, we can some time in the future decide that some anti-missile defense should be established somewhere on the moon, but before we reach such an arrangement we will have a — we will lose an opportunity of fixing some particular arrangements between us,” Mr. Putin said

The new American proposals included an invitation for Russia to join the United States and NATO as a full partner in designing and operating an antimissile system guarding all of Europe. The offer even could include invitations for Russian and American officers to inspect — and even be stationed as liaison officers at — each other’s missile defense sites. This concept of a new “Joint Regional Missile Defense Architecture” was described by senior administration officials as the most advanced and elaborate proposal on missile defense cooperation between Washington and Moscow. “We remain eager to be full and open partners with Russia on missile defense,” Mr. Gates said. Acknowledging that the two sides also differed sharply on how to preserve the best aspects of treaties reducing nuclear warheads and guaranteeing verification, the American secretaries also proposed that the missile defense, conventional forces and nuclear arms issues be treated as “a strategic framework,” to be discussed in an organized, parallel manner.

Mr. Putin often veers from the diplomatic language typical of such high-level meetings. On Friday, meeting with the Americans at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside of Moscow, the outwardly warm relations that once marked relations, at least between the countries’ leaders, had clearly chilled in public. Mr. Putin appeared to catch Mr. Gates and Ms. Rice off guard with his remarks since no public statements were planned in advance. Mr. Putin, though, arrived with notes and spent eight minutes welcoming the opportunity to talk about where Russia strongly disagreed with the Bush administration. Ms. Rice appeared angered, though Mr. Gates reacted impassively. However, senior American officials said the private meeting with Mr. Putin was far warmer and productive than the public comments, in particular in discussions over American ideas for inviting Russian to join a regional missile defense system. In addition his remarks on missile defense, Mr. Putin suggested that Russia would withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which barred short- and medium-range missiles from Europe, unless it were renegotiated and expanded to include other countries. Mr. Putin also suggested that the Bush administration was pressing ahead with its security plans in Eastern Europe at the expense of relations with Russia. “We hope that in the process of such complex and multifaceted talks,” Mr. Putin said, referring to the format of Friday’s meetings, “you will not be forcing forward your relations with the Eastern European countries.”

A senior American official summarized the day’s efforts by saying the long-term goal of talks with the Russians remains “to create a virtuous cycle of cooperation.” The two sides agreed to discuss a method for jointly monitoring and assessing the ballistic missile threat — taken to mean Iran — and to use that information to guide plans for antimissile systems in Europe that would benefit Russia, the United States and NATO. Mr. Gates described American plans to place 10 anti-missile interceptors in Poland and an advanced targeting radar system in the Czech Republic as no threat to Moscow’s nuclear missiles. “I would just like to emphasize that the missile defense system proposed for Central Europe is not aimed at Russia,” Mr. Gates said. “It would have no impact on Russia’s strategic deterrent.” Mr. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, insisted however that the American missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic were “a potential threat for us.” He threatened that if the two bases are completed, “We will have to take some measures to neutralize this threat.” He did not elaborate, but Russian military officials have warned they would consider repositioning missiles to aim at Europe if American missile defense bases were installed in Poland and the Czech Republic.


In related news:

Russia Successfully Tests Short-Range Missile Interceptor

Russia has successfully test-fired a short-range anti-ballistic missile at a test site in Kazakhstan, a Space Forces spokesman said Thursday. "A combined team of the Space Forces, the Sary Shagan testing site and industry officials fired a short-range interceptor missile at a target missile," Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said. He said the launch had been conducted to assess the possibility of extending of the service life of interceptor missiles on combat duty around Moscow. According to some reports, at least 68 short-range A-135 interceptors (NATO reporting name Gazelle) are currently deployed in the Moscow missile defense system to protect radars and strategically important infrastructure. The Gazelle, with an effective range of up to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) is similar in design and mission to the U.S. Sprint missile of the U.S. Safeguard system. The Sary Shagan testing site on the west bank of Lake Balkhash has been operational since October 1958. In recent years, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces conducted tests of six anti-missile systems, 12 air defense systems, seven types of missile interceptors, 12 types of ground-to-air missiles and 18 radars at the site.


Russian Strategic Bombers to Conduct Exercises Oct. 16-30

Russian strategic bombers will conduct October 16-30 a series of long-range training flights, with simulated bomber raids and missile launches, an Air Force spokesman said on Monday. "Russian strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3, and Il-78 aerial tankers will conduct flights over the Arctic region, the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and the Black Sea, with simulated bombing raids and firing of cruise missiles at testing grounds in northern and southern Russia," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. Colonel General Alexander Zelin, the commander of the Russian Air Force, will supervise the exercises. Moscow announced in mid-August that regular patrol flights by strategic bombers had been resumed, and would continue on a permanent basis, with patrol areas including commercial shipping and economic production zones. The U.S. administration expressed concern about the resumption of patrol flights by Russian strategic bombers. "I think the rapid growth in Russian military spending definitely bears watching," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with ABC News on October 14. "And frankly, some of the efforts - for instance, Bear flights in areas that we haven't seen for a while - are really not helpful to security."


Canadian Forces Keep Eye on Russian Exercise, Deny Airspace Incident

The Canadian Forces say they transferred a number of CF-18 fighter jets based in Quebec to Goose Bay, N.L. for maintenance reasons, but add they're also keeping an eye on a Russian military exercise in the Arctic. "It still keeps us in a rapid position to respond to any unidentified aircraft approaching our airspace, but this hasn't been the case," said Capt. Steve Neta, from Canadian Norad regional headquarters in Winnipeg. Last week, Russia's military announced that up to 10 of its strategic bombers would carry out patrols over the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Black Sea. "From the Norad_perspective the mission hasn't changed," Neta said about the Russians flights. They have been "conducted in a professional way, it's all been done in international waters and airways and obeying international flight rules, so it's been done in a very professional exchange up to this point." "Up to 10 long-range aircraft, Tupolev 160s and 22M3s are taking part in these exercises, with inflight refuelling," Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky told Russian news agencies. He added that the flights were for training purposes and conformed with international regulations on the use of airspace. Neta denied reports a Russian plane had flown into Labrador air space without permission on Aug. 17.

"There is no information supporting this event although we are double-checking to see if there are any flights that may have been misinterpreted," he said. "One thing we can say with absolute certainty is that (at) no time did any aircraft, unidentified or without permission, enter sovereign airspace, at no time at all." But the president of the civilian workers union at CFB Goose Bay says he expected the denial but insisted that multiple sources, some "well-placed," tell him otherwise. "(The plane) was asked several times to identify himself and wouldn't, so they called in three CF-18s from Bagotville to escort him out," said Howard Bishop. "By the time they got here from Bagotville, (the Russians) were over Goose Bay. If that plane was equipped to do any damage he would have been able to (do so)." Bishop said he has seen at least four CF-18s at CFB Goose Bay, which arrived for an unscheduled two-week training period.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the resumption of long-range flights in international air space on Aug. 17. In the past year Russia has been flexing its military muscle, reviving strategic bomber flights to probe western air defences, investing in new strategic weapons and using the windfall from high oil prices to rebuild its weakened military, but NATO officials aren't alarmed yet. "We watch it, as we always do," Gen. Bantz Craddock, the supreme NATO commander told reporters earlier this month, referring to the resumption of Russian strategic bomber flights. "At this point, I don't see it as threatening at all." Beginning in 1985 Goose Bay supported allied military training but the memorandum of understanding expired in March 2006, putting an end to what used to be a permanent allied detachment. There is no permanent CF-18 presence at the base, which serves as a forward operating location for CFB_Bagotville, providing support for that base. Many countries have faced the same budget restrictions seen in Canada, explains Capt. Tom Burkhart, and have been doing alternative training elsewhere. The base remains a permanent establishment for allied training but none are presently at Goose Bay, he said.


Armavir Radar to be on Combat Duty Late in 2007

October 3 (RIA Novosti) - A state-of-the-art radar being built near Armavir, in southern Russia, will be on combat duty in late 2007, Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin, the commander of the Russian Space Forces said Wednesday. In an interview with Krasnaya Zvezda - Red Star, a Russian military newspaper - Popovkin said the radar located near the town of Armavir, in the Krasnodar Territory would start combat duty in late 2007, updating his previous statements that it would open in 2008. The site is about 700 km (450 miles) to the northwest of the Iranian border, and just 100 km (62 miles) to the north of Sochi, the Russian alpine resort on the Black Sea, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The general said a similar radar station, located in Lekhtusi, near St. Petersburg, became operational in late 2006. The radar was built to fill a gap in national radar coverage that existed for seven years after the closure in 1998 of an obsolete Dnestr-M radar in the Latvian town of Skrunde, 150 km (93 miles) from the ex-Soviet Baltic capital of Riga. Russia leases ground-based radar stations in Baranovichi, Belarus; Sevastopol and Mukachevo, Ukraine; Balkhash, Kazakhstan; and Gabala, Azerbaijan. It also has radars on its own territory in Murmansk, northwest Arctic, Pechora, northwest Urals, and Irkutsk, east Siberia. President Vladimir Putin, during his two-day meeting with President George W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, in July, proposed incorporating the new radar into a missile defense system managed by the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council. Russia also said it was ready to upgrade its early warning radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan, which was also proposed as an alternative to the deployment of an anti-missile shield in Central Europe.


Russia, India to Build New Joint Hypersonic Missile in 5-7 yrs

September 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos will complete work on a new hypersonic missile in five to seven years' time, an Indian defense official said Monday. The official said the missile, five times faster than the speed of sound, will be practically impossible to intercept, adding that countries were set to discuss the details of the project shortly. In 1998, Russia and India established a joint venture, BrahMos Aerospace, to design, develop, produce and market a supersonic cruise missile. Sea-based and land-based versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy. The Brahmos missile, named after India's Brahmaputra River and Russia's Moskva River, has a range of 180 miles and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds. It can hit ground targets flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and at a speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. Work is currently underway to create aircraft and submarine-based BrahMos missiles. The airborne version could be installed on the Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters of the Indian Air Force. Experts estimate that India might purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its Armed Forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to third countries during the same period. In 2000, Russia and India signed a 10-year program on military-technical cooperation, which currently lists about 130 R&D and production projects.


Russia Concerned Over Joint Japan-U.S. Missile Defense Effort, Russian Diplomat Says

TOKYO: Russia is concerned that a Japanese-U.S. missile defense plan could be an effort to preserve military superiority, Moscow's foreign minister said in a news interview published Saturday. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow regarded the joint missile defense effort as an "object of concern," expressing wariness over what he called the possibility that the system could be directed against Russia and China. "We oppose the construction of missile defense systems whose purpose is to ensure military superiority," Lavrov wrote in response to questions from Kyodo News agency, ahead of a visit to Japan later this month. Citing the views of specialists, Lavrov also expressed wariness over the possibility that the system could be directed against Russia and China, Kyoto said. Tokyo and Washington have been jointly developing an advanced missile defense system, and have stepped up joint missile defense programs since North Korea's missile launches and nuclear test last year. The two countries held a regional ballistic missile defense drill in July, with another round of exercises scheduled for November. The U.S. keeps about 50,000 troops across Japan under a bilateral security pact. U.S. and Russian negotiators ended high-level talks in Moscow Friday at an impasse over a range of issues that have chilled bilateral relations, including a missile defense system the U.S. wants to build in Eastern Europe. Washington says the system is aimed at stopping possible missile launches from Iran and North Korea. Russia says the system is a strategic threat to its missile capabilities.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

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