Why Russia Is Flexing Its Muscles - 2007

We are currently seeing an unprecedented amount of activity by the armed forces of the Russian Federation


President Vladimir Putin with leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) overseeing military exercises in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region

The armed forces of the Russian Federation, especially their air forces, have been quite busy as of late. Just within the last several weeks, Moscow has flexed its military muscles in various locations across the entire stretch of the Eurasian continent and beyond. Their theater of operations has been the Pacific Ocean, Central Asia, the southern Caucasus, the northern Arctic and the British Islands. This show of force has essentially taken place along the entire circumference of their geographic borders, specifically the most geostrategically sensitive areas. Having observed the political and military developments coming out of the Russian Federation for several years, I can undoubtedly say that I have not seen as much activity as I'm currently seeing. I believe this may be due to several geostrategic calculations as outlined below:



Foremost, Moscow is finally signaling, quite loudly, that they are definitely back into the game. Second, there are various unresolved geopolitical issues on Moscow's "to do" list: Namely, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Arctic, etc. Third, Moscow is currently in the process of monopolizing the vast oil/gas distribution networks of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Fourth, Moscow is currently in the process of establishing military/economic alliances with China, India, and various Central Asian "stans." Fifth, Moscow is in the process of expanding and modernizing its armed forces. Sixth, Moscow is attempting to thwart any future attempts by NATO to expand into its spheres of influence, including the contentious issue regarding the US missile station in eastern Europe. Finally, with its aggressive posturing I believe Moscow is attempting to deter attacks against Iran.


Thus, with its muscle flexing and the gradual consolidation of its national wealth along with the establishment of strategic alliances with various nations across the globe, Moscow is clearly signaling the West to stay far away from its neighborhood. In other words - we are back in town, keep your distance and get used to the new geopolitical status quo.

Arevordi



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Why Russia Is Flexing Its Muscles


2007

Moscow's latest saber-rattling — flying long-range bomber patrols toward the U.S. and Britain, launching planes from its sole aircraft carrier, redeploying the Russian fleet to the Mediterranean, engaging in war games with China and several central Asian nations — doesn't mean the Cold War has returned. What it does signal is Russia's willingness, emboldened by the oil wealth once again flowing to the government, to begin reasserting its historic role as a strategic counterweight to Washington. And if it can't quite muster the heft to do that alone, Moscow is increasingly allying with other nations to challenge America's global hegemony. Geopolitical rivalry long predates the United States and the Soviet Union, of course; it dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. And the revival of such competition between Washington and Moscow is no surprise given Russia's recovery from its weakened position in the 1990s, which saw its regional and global influence dramatically reduced. But an oil price of $70 a barrel oil has filled the Kremlin's coffers and allowed it to pump money into its military. And the increased spending comes on the heels of a series of moves by Washington that has upset Russia anew, ranging from NATO enlargement and proposed missile-defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland, to the Iraq war. At least partly in response, Russia recently planted a titanium reproduction of its flag at the North Pole, test-fired a new ballistic missile supposedly capable of thwarting Washington's fledgling missile shield, and has blocked moves at the U.N. aimed at granting Kosovo formal independence from Russia's ally, Serbia.


"Russia is back," says Cliff Kupchan, a Russia expert at the Washington-based Eurasia Group, a political risk advisory and consulting firm. "The Russian elites have more spring in their step than at any time since my first visit there in 1981, and they've had enough of U.S. unilateralism." Officially, Washington isn't peeved by Russia's latest moves. "Militaries around the world engage in a variety of different activities," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in response to news that Russia's long-range bomber missions were resuming after a hiatus of 15 years. "It's not entirely surprising that the Russian Air Force, the Russian military, might engage in this kind of activity." Could it be seen as a security threat to the U.S.? "I don't think our military has those concerns about it," Johndroe said. But there is a sense inside the U.S. government that relations with the Russians have suffered as a result of the Administration's preoccupations with its "global war on terror" and the conflict in Iraq. "The old saw is that Washington is a one-crisis town," says Ariel Cohen, a Russia expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. Beyond that, Cohen says, the U.S. has long misconceived the nature of a post-Soviet Russia. "They thought that Russia would just be a larger, colder France, huffing and puffing but not really doing anything," Cohen says. "But instead, Russia has decided to flex its oil-fed muscle and to go a happy place from which its elites came from: the Cold War."


Kupchan believes the Russians have a reason to gripe: While President Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to call Bush following the 9/11 attacks and offer assistance, Russia got little in return for its support and cooperation in the campaign against al-Qaeda. "They believe they were the first in the door after 9/11, and they've got an empty bag to show for it," he says. "Most of the current European security architecture," he adds, is built "on Russian weakness," and Moscow has had enough. One response has been to cozy up to China — a strategic rival during the Cold War — through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which recently held a war game in Russian involving 6,500 troops. The six-year old group, sometimes called a "club of dictators" — its members also include the authoritarian governments of former Soviet republics Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — is seen by some in the U.S. government as a retooled Warsaw Pact that could serve to balance NATO. The SCO rejected Washington's request for observer status, while welcoming Iranian participation. The SCO "is an incipient counterweight" to the U.S. and NATO, Kupchan says. "If they spike it with Iran, you've got something ugly."

Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...655521,00.html


In related news:


Russia Unveils Pilotless 'Stealth' Bomber


Russia has unveiled the mock-up of a pilotless bomber plane that its constructors say will be even better than the famous US stealth fighter at evading enemy radars and anti-aircraft fire. NTV television showed a full-sized model of the bat-like plane known as Skat, which means "stingray," at an airshow just outside Moscow - the first public glimpse of the project run by Russia's MiG corporation. NTV reported that the aircraft has a flattened, swept-back profile reminiscent of the US air force's stealth aircraft, with a bubble-like xxxxpit area, although the plane will not have a pilot. According to the report, the Skat's constructors claim the stealth technology will make it even less vulnerable than the US version to radar detection. "Many firms are trying to work in this area, but few so far have achieved results. Today we have begun real work on building an assault craft," director of MiG's Mikoyan design bureau, Vladimir Barkovsky, said on NTV television. RIA Novosti news agency quoted Mr Barkovsky saying that the Skat will be able to attack land and sea targets, particularly enemy anti-aircraft sites, even if coming under heavy fire.

Source: http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/...?section=world

Russia Builds Highly Effective Pechora Surface-to-Air Missiles


The final stage of the Combat Commonwealth 2007 military exercise will be held at the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan Region (southern Russia) on August 22. Defense ministers from ten CIS states will fly to the range after the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2007 aerospace show, which opens in Zhukovsky near Moscow on August 21. They will see the operation of the S-125 Pechora (NATO reporting name SA-3 Goa), S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble) and other air defense missile systems, as well as the flights of the Su-27 Flanker interceptors and Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft. In fact, the ministers will see in action in the lower reaches of the Volga what they saw on stands in Zhukovsky. The Joint Air Defense System includes the absolute majority of CIS states, even Ukraine, which is not a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Seeing it in action makes a strong impression on air defense specialists and defense ministers, who are political leaders rather than generals. However, some systems will not take part in field firing exercises. One of them is the Pechora-2M SAM system, which Egypt has bought after a long period of dealing with other countries' military exporters. About a dozen countries outside the CIS want to buy Pechora. Among the former Soviet republics Tajikistan has bought it, Uzbekistan is negotiating the acquisition, and Armenia is considering a deal. What attracts them?

Vyacheslav Korotayev, deputy director general of the Defense Systems company that produces Pechora-2M, said it is a revamped version of the S-125 Pechora, which seven CIS countries still have, along with missiles for it. Although Pechora-2M is supplied together with new 5V27D and 5V27DE missiles, which have an improved radio detonator and warhead, it can also use the older 5V27 missiles, which is quite economic for any army. The new Pechora is mobile and can be redeployed within 20-25 minutes, compared with three hours needed to move the old version. This is of crucial importance for an air defense system, because air battles do not last long, and the system also needs to evade return enemy fire. The sooner it moves away, the more chances it has to survive until the next battle. Besides, Pechora-2M has cutting-edge microprocessors, with their service life advanced from 30-40 to 2,000 and even 10,000 hours. Moreover, the new jam-resistant system can successfully cope with enemy ECM (Electronic-Counter-Measures) systems and missiles. Experts recall that the United States had used Shrike anti-radar missiles against targets in Vietnam. But things have changed since then, and even the sophisticated HARM anti-radar missile is unable to hit Pechora-2M aerial posts because they simply vanish off the screen. Unlike its predecessor, which had a 26 km (16 miles) range, the new SAM system can hit enemy aircraft 35 km (22 miles) away.

The new system's aerial and command posts are located up to 300 meters from missile launchers. Commanders relay orders via telecode and optronic networks, which shield telecommunications and engagement control equipment from enemy ECM systems and enhance personnel survival in case of air strikes. The Pechora-2M features an optronic network comprising one TV channel and one thermal imaging channel, allowing it to attack and destroy aerial targets day and night in conditions of electronic warfare. Consequently, the Pechora-2M can hit F-16 fighters at a 30-km (19-mile) range and larger aircraft at a range of up to 35 km (22 miles). The revamped Osa-AKM, Tor-M1 and Buk-M1-2 SAM systems have similar optronic networks, but one Pechora-2M can cover an area assigned to six or eight Osa or Tor systems. This is a serious advantage in terms of the price-combat efficiency ratio. It is for the latter reason that the CIS countries are buying Pechora-2M, rather than S-300 or more expensive S-400 systems. Military experts claim that it is more profitable for Russia to sell the cheaper Pechora to its CIS and CSTO partners. Why? To begin with, Russia does not have enough modernized S-300 and the cutting-edge S-400 systems for its own armed forces. Second, Pechora-2M can deal with many air targets, including some types of ballistic and cruise missiles, no less effectively than S-300 or S-400, and for less money. And lastly, a fence of modernized Pechora SAM systems along the Russian border (Belarus has a similar system) deprives the potential air aggressor or terrorist of the surprise factor. The incoming targets can be destroyed long before they reach the country's industrial, economic or cultural centers.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20070820/72632288.html

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