Russia shoots down Georgian drone - April, 2008


This week saw the Russian Air Force shoot down an Israeli made Georgian spy drone over Abkhazia. Is Russia itching for a fight? Although Russia is making a dramatic come back, it's not quite there yet. Thus, I don't believe Russia is looking for a fight with NATO. 

In my opinion, no one in Moscow wants war, let alone a war that risks drawing in a major superpower like the US lead NATO alliance. The fact remains, even after Putin's great efforts to improve the armed forces of Russia, the Russian military is still under-funded, under-equipped and, more importantly, lacks an ideological drive.

In any given nation, having an ideological drive is fundamentally crucial for having an effective political system and a powerful military. While the West is on a well organized and well-funded ideological crusade to rid the world of "oppressive powers" and "Islamic terrorists", as of today, Russia still lacks an ideological drive of its own.

While the West has taken the political and military initiative within various geopolitical arenas across the world, as of today, Russia is still on the defensive. Thus, what Russia is itching for, in my opinion, is respect and security.

Taking into consideration the serious political situation that exists today and the West's long-term agenda against the Russian Federation, there may be a war somewhere within the greater region in question. However, it will be a war by proxies. 

Having said that, Moscow knows well that of all the geopolitical hot spots, the Caucasus is the place where it has the most leverage. So, in final analysis, Moscow may want to eventually make a lasting impression on the West via the conflict zones found within the Caucasus.
Since Georgians generally speaking fear and hate Russia, the West has found a very willing and enthusiasti
c player for their regional agenda. The same applies to the Baltic states and certain eastern European states where fear and hate of Russians are widespread.


The West is basically exploiting these sentiments within the region. As far as Georgia's war fighting capability is concerned, Tbilisi simply has to talk big because that is all it can do. They have no other choice in the matter. In some ways, it's very basic human nature: It's like the little kid in the play yard being confronted by the big kid. The little kid starts to talk big, saying he has a tough cousin named NATO who will back him up in a fight... The little kid says this with the hopes that the big kid will get worried and walk away without hurting him. 

Tbilisi and the West know well that the Georgian military is in no shape to even take on the Abkhaz military let alone the armed forces of the Russian Federation. There is however a long-term danger here for Russia. If Tbilisi continues to allow the West (NATO) unhindered access in Georgia, Western war making ability (in other words, high tech military technology) may gradually begin to appear in Georgia, gradually tipping the military scale somewhat in Tbilisi's favor. Moscow simply cannot risk that. Thus, as the West gets closer to Georgia Russia will increase its pressure against Tbilisi.
Arevordi


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Russia 'shot down Georgia drone'


Georgia releases footage of 'Russian jet attack' - 21 Apr 08: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkeCvQ47bDY

April, 2008

A Russian fighter jet has shot down an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft over Georgia, Georgian authorities say. Georgia's defence ministry told the BBC it had video footage showing a Russian MiG-29 aircraft shooting down the unarmed Georgian drone on Sunday. A spokesman for Russia's air force told Reuters the claim was "nonsens". Tensions are high between the two neighbours over Russian support for breakaway Georgian regions, and Georgian moves towards joining Nato. The Georgian air force told Reuters news agency the video footage showed a Russian jet launching a missile at the Georgian plane as it flew over the breakaway Abkhazia region. "It's absolutely illegal for a Russian MiG-29 to be there," Col David Nairashvili, the air force commander, told Reuters. Last week, Georgia accused Russia of trying to annex the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by deciding to seek closer ties with them. Russia has said the plan is aimed at protecting the rights and legal interests of Russian citizens, who make up the majority of the population in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian and UN peacekeepers have been deployed in the two republics since the early 1990s, when violence broke out as both regions tried to break free from Georgian control. Earlier this month, Nato decided not to grant Georgia's request to join its Membership Action Plan but promised it would eventually become a member of the alliance.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7358761.stm


Putin blames Georgia for raising tensions in Abkhazia


President Putin has reacted with surprise to Georgian military flights over Abkhazia. He said they serve simply to heighten tensions within a conflict zone. It comes after Georgia accused Russia of shooting down its unmanned plane over Abkhazian territory. Georgia says it’s an act of direct aggression. The Russian leader’s reaction came in his telephone conversation with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Monday. According to Georgia, one of its unmanned planes was on a regular reconnaissance flight when it was attacked by a Russian fighter jet. Georgia had previously denied all involvement, claiming they hadn’t sent a plane to the area. Abkhazia says Georgia’s statement acknowledging the flight is tantamount to an admission of spying. Russia's Ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, says Georgian spy planes have been continually spotted in Abkhazian airspace throughout the last few weeks. “From the beginning of April, Georgian unmanned spy planes have been constantly present in the security zone in violation of all existing agreements. I’ve received this information from Russian peacekeepers and UN observers," he said. Moscow, meanwhile, denies Georgia’s accusation that Russia is to blame for shooting down the plane and stresses that none of its planes were in the region at the time. Colonel Aleksandr Drobyshevsky, Aide to the Airforce Commander-in-Chief, said all Russian Air Force pilots were off duty on Sunday and there were no Russian military planes flying over the North Caucusus. Tbilisi, however, insists there is sound evidence that a Russian jet was involved in the incident. It's not the first time Tbilisi has accused Russia of violating its airspace, with Moscow dismissing the accusations as fabrications. Meanwhile, Abkhazia claims it was one of its own aircraft that destroyed the plane.

Source: http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/23724


Georgia-Russia Tension Escalates Over Downed Drone


Georgia behind Abkhazia tensions: Putin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KftF9yL_gbQ

Georgia Accuses Russia of Shootdown: http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_stor...d54d7ae58fef11
Georgia accused Russia on Monday of violating its airspace and using a MIG fighter jet to shoot down a Georgian reconnaissance drone over the separatist territory of Abkhazia on Sunday. Russia’s Air Force denied the Georgian claim, saying that none of its military planes flew in or near southwestern Russia on Sunday and that its pilots were not working that day. But Georgia released what is said was the video recording of the final live feed received from the unarmed reconnaissance aircraft before it was struck by an air-to-air missile and crashed at 9:55 a.m. Sunday. Buoyed with what it called clear evidence, Georgia countered with a diplomatic and public relations offensive. President Mikheil Saakashvili appeared on national television and said he had spoken with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and demanded an end to what he called “unprovoked aggression against the sovereign territory of Georgia.”

In a telephone interview Monday night, Mr. Saakashvili said he had spoken with Mr. Putin for about 40 minutes. He said that Mr. Putin had neither confirmed nor denied the attack, and that the two presidents had disagreed sharply about the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two separatist enclaves in Georgia that receive intensive political and diplomatic Russian support. Last week, Mr. Putin issued a decree expanding relations between Russia and the enclaves, including direct contacts with Russia’s ministries and pledges of economic and agricultural aid. Georgia called the decree a formal step in “a creeping annexation.” The video released Monday seemed certain to intensify the dispute. It shows the clear silhouette of a twin-tailed fighter aircraft, which the Georgians claimed was a MIG-29 fighter jet, as it banks into view beneath the remotely piloted drone and fires a missile toward the camera.

The missile streaks swiftly toward the lens, leaving a long smoke trail as it advances and grows in size. The footage stops. Black-and-white static fills the screen. Neither the Georgian Air Force nor the tiny contingent of Abkhaz planes in the separatist territory have MIG-29s. The only air force with MIG-29s that could have been in the area, Georgian officials said, is Russia’s. Mr. Saakashvili said the evidence was irrefutable. “It’s on the video,” he said. “It’s a Russian plane.” The dispute marked the latest claim by Georgia that Russia had made illegal military incursions into Georgian airspace. Last year, Georgia accused Russia of two mysterious attacks — a coordinated helicopter and ground-to-ground rocket attack in the Kodori Gorge in March, and an attack from a Russian jet with an air-to-ground missile in August. Mr. Saakashvili also said that Russia had secretly expanded military aid to Abkhazia, staging aircraft inside its borders and assigning trainers to Abkhaz ground units. He said that last year a special Georgian unit killed two Russian colonels who had accompanied an Abkhaz reconnaissance patrol deep into Georgian territory.

Each event, Georgia has said, is further evidence that Russia has sided militarily with separatists it already supports politically in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which achieved de facto independence after brief wars against Georgia in the 1990s. The attacks, Georgia has said, show that Russia is not neutral and should be grounds to nullify Russia’s role as a peacekeeper in the region, which it has had since a cease-fire in 1993. Russia has repeatedly denied the Georgian claims, even when confronted with pieces of the broken rockets and missiles with Russian-language markings. After the episode last August, Russia accused Georgia of staging a fake attack, or of attacking itself. Georgia countered that it had digital radar evidence of a plane entering from Russia, flying to the area of the attack and then returning to Russia. Georgia initially denied Abkhaz reports on Sunday that it had lost a drone. But on Monday it changed its account, saying it had dispatched an unarmed drone to observe Abkhaz troop buildups in Gali, a district on the Black Sea near the internal administrative border between Georgian and Abkhaz forces.

Mr. Saakashvili said Georgia had about 40 reconnaissance drones, which it purchased from Israel and distributed among its police and military commands. “It is a very handy thing in a mountainous country,” he said. The lost drone, he said, belonged to the Interior Ministry. The Russian Air Force command did not dispute that a Georgian drone had been downed by an air-to-air missile. But it said an Abkhaz L-39 training plane had flown the mission, not a Russian MIG-29. The fighter plane seen in the Georgian video did not resemble an L-39, which has a distinctive silhouette, including a single tail. The video could not be immediately verified independently. No markings were visible on the attacking plane. Georgian officials said they were fortunate to capture the fighter plane on camera, and had done so only because a first missile fired by the plane missed the drone, which has a small engine that they said made it a difficult target for a heat-seeking missile. The pilot apparently decided to approach closer for a second shot, they said, and flew near enough for the plane to be filmed by the drone before it was destroyed.

Shota Utiashvili, a senior official in Georgia’s Interior Ministry, said radar data also showed that the Russian plane had flown from Gudauta, a former Soviet air base inside Abkhazia, which is within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. Basing Russian attack aircraft in Abkhazia would be illegal and a violation of the terms of peacekeeping in the region, he said. Georgian officials said the video had been shared with foreign embassies in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital; the embassies made no public comment. Mr. Saakashvili said Georgia would bring the attack up with the United Nations. The attack, he said, was hardly the first, “but this time we have video evidence.” The episode occurred only days after several Western countries, including the United States, criticized Russia’s announcement that it would expand its support for the breakaway regions. “We are very concerned at the steps that have been taken and we have made our views known to the Russian government,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/wo...tml?ref=europe

In other news:


Over 110 aircraft to take part in CIS command-and-staff drill



More than 110 military aircraft from eight CIS states will take part in a large-scale command-and-staff exercise on April 22 led by the Joint Air Defense Force, a senior Russian military official said Monday. "Over 20 scenarios will be rehearsed, designed at strengthening the air space of CIS countries - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan," said Lt.Gen. Vadim Volkovitsky, deputy commander of the Russian Air Force. He said command of the drill will be provided by Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, Russian Air Force chief, from the Central Command and Control Post. More than 10 missile, air defense, anti-aircraft, and electronic warfare units will rehearse missions to protect the air space around Moscow and the Central Federal District. MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker fighters will practice interception missions.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080421/105544646.html


Russia Air Force to get new Tu-160 strategic bomber in April

A new Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber will enter service with Russia' Air Force by the end of this month, the Air Force chief said on Tuesday. "We hope that the 121st heavy bomber regiment [based at Engels airbase in the Saratov Region] will receive a new Tu-160 plane on April 29," Col.Gen. Alexander Zelin said. "It is a fully upgraded plane, adapted to new weapons systems," he said. He added that another three to four such bombers will enter service before the end of the year. The Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theatres of operation. The aircraft has all-weather, day-and-night capability and can operate at all geographical latitudes. Its two internal rotary launchers can each hold 6 Raduga Kh-55 cruise missiles or 12 Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles. The plane bears a strong resemblance to the U.S. B-1A Lancer strategic bomber, although it is significantly larger, and with far greater range, up to 11,000 miles without refueling. According to official reports, there are at least 15 Tu-160 bombers in service with the Russian Air Force. Russia plans to upgrade the existing fleet and build at least one new bomber every one-two years to increase the number of available aircraft to 30 in the near future. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the resumption of strategic patrol flights last August, saying that although the country had halted long-distance strategic flights to remote regions in 1992, other nations had continued the practice, and that this compromised Russian national security. Although it was common practice during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to keep nuclear strategic bombers permanently airborne, the Kremlin cut long-range patrols in 1992. The decision came as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ensuing economic and political chaos. However, the newly-resurgent Russia, awash with petrodollars, has invested heavily in military technology, and the resumption of long-range patrols is widely seen among political commentators as another sign of its drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080422/105640820.html


Russian Navy conducts tactical missile drill in Barents Sea

The nuclear powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy of Russia's Northern Fleet has completed a missile firing exercise in the Barents Sea, a Navy spokesman said on Wednesday. "The live fire exercise was carried out as part of a tactical drill at a test site in the Barents Sea," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. He said, in particular, the battle-cruiser had successfully engaged a mock target launched from the missile ship Rassvet. The cruiser also repulsed a mock air attack with an onboard antiaircraft complex. Dygalo said Pyotr Velikiy's operations in the Barents Sea were ensured by Northern Fleet warships and support vessels.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080423/105754660.html


Su-34: new aircraft for Air Force's new concept

Sukhoi SU-32 (SU-34) Fullback fighter-bomber: http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...Ar72vY8B&hl=en

Russia's rearmament program, approved in 2006 for a period until 2015, provides for supplying modern weapons to its armed forces. One of them is the Su-34 Fullback fighter-bomber, which will replace the Su-24 Fencers. The process has begun, but some say the replacement is taking too long. The new fighter-bomber is said to be very good. An improvement on the Su-27 Flanker, it has cutting-edge equipment, including a modern crew and equipment protection system. The Su-34 is effective against personnel and military hardware on the battlefield and also against targets behind enemy lines, and can also be used for surveillance and against naval targets. The Su-34 will replace the Su-24M aircraft (about 400 planes), the Su-24MR surveillance aircraft (over 100 planes), and the MiG-25RB aircraft (about 70). Russia will have to produce between 550 and 600 Su-34s to replace these obsolete aircraft within 10-15 years.

However, the Defense Ministry plans to buy only about 58 such planes by 2015 and a total of 300 by 2022. Many experts say that if the Su-24 and MiG-25RB aircraft are scrapped by 2020, Russia will be left without fighter-bombers and surveillance aircraft. Others argue that this number will be enough for the Air Force's new concept. The concept is focused not so much on the combat characteristics of the Su-34, as on its long range, the ability to refuel in the air (including by other Su-34 aircraft with additional fuel tanks under their wings), and its comfortable cabin allowing the crew to make long-distance flights without becoming overtired. The Su-34 aircraft can also fly without electronic warfare support planes, because it has electronic interference equipment.

Units armed with such aircraft can be used in the so-called pendulum operations, when an Air Force unit bombs a terrorist base in Central Asia today, delivers a strike at a missile base in Europe the next day, and three days later flies to the Indian Ocean to support a combined group of the Northern, Pacific and Black Sea fleets, with the flights made from a base in Russia. The Su-34 aircraft has long-range precision weapons, can fly hugging the earth, and have a high level of protection, which should cut losses during lightning operations, while the use of a relatively small number of such aircraft allows training crews to perfection. This is not a new concept. Elite units of top-class aircraft manned by superbly trained crews formed the core of the German air force during World War II, and Japan's Imperial Navy had a similar concept.

However, such elite units can be quickly weeded out by swarms of ordinary aircraft in a global war of attrition, such as World War II. From this viewpoint, Russia's new concept looks vulnerable, but then this country has the nuclear triad for a global war. In a war of attrition, it will not matter how many such smart aircraft Russia will have - 200, 600 or 1,500. What will matter is the yield of a nuclear bomb they will be able to drop on the enemy. But in the event of a small war involving one or two adversaries, or a chain of local conflicts, the existence of such high-speed, highly protected and well-armed aircraft can be the decisive factor. Even 58 Su-34 fighter-bombers, used at the right time in the right place, would be a powerful force. A group of 200-300 such aircraft, divided into several units for use in key areas of the battlefield, will be able to fulfill the most complicated tasks.

Apart from the Su-34, the Russian Air Force will also receive other new planes, whose technical characteristics will maintain the force's combat potential at the requisite level. New units, set up for the fulfillment of specific tasks, will consist of fighters, bombers, early warning and command planes, flying tankers, and unmanned aerial vehicles. These will be highly mobile units, which means that its aircraft can be quickly dispatched to the area in question. In fact, Russia's new concept is not unlike the United States' Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF), a flexible and powerful instrument of air warfare capable of quickly delivering strikes in any part of the world. As for surveillance aircraft, industrialized countries intend to replace them with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The world is changing, and the new world will wage new kind of wars.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080417/105299816.html


Russian bombers patrol over Atlantic Ocean


Two Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers are carrying out routine patrols over neutral Atlantic waters, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday. Interceptions of Russian combat aircraft by NATO fighters are becoming a common occurrence again, after Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by President Vladimir Putin "During the flights the crews develop their flying skills in northern latitudes, over unmarked terrain," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. He said the crews also perfect their in-flight refueling techniques, allowing the bombers to remain in the air for more than 24 hours and is considered extremely difficult "especially when the Russian planes are accompanied by NATO interceptors." "All Russian Air Force flights are performed...in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating the borders of other states," he also said. Although it was common practice during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to keep nuclear strategic bombers permanently airborne, the Kremlin cut long-range patrols in 1992. The decision came as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ensuing economic and political chaos. However, the newly-resurgent Russia, awash with petrodollars, has invested heavily in military technology, and the resumption of long-range patrols is widely seen among political commentators as another sign of its drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080423/105729737.html

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