Damascus Talks Peace, Bids for Sophisticated Military Hardware


May, 2008

When Damascus confirmed peace talks with Israel on May 21, a secret high-powered military purchasing delegation, headed by air force-air defenses commander Gen. Akhmad Ratyb, was already in Moscow. With a $5 billion allocation in hand from Tehran, the delegation was bidding for the most advanced products of Russia’s munitions industry. The six main categories of interest to Damascus are disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources as –

1. The latest model of the Russian Iskander-E, a surface-to-surface tactical missile with a range of 280 km and a 480-kilo warhead. This missile is considered one of the most advanced of its type in the world today, partly because of its cruise attributes which enable it to home in on target undetected and with high precision. Iskander-E can be guided by pilot-less air vehicles or satellites.

2. Fifty of the latest MiG-29SMT fighter-bombers. The Russians have added advanced avionics and electronics and lengthened the warplane’s operational range. It can fly 3,700 kilometers without refueling, and 6,700 kilometers with in-flight fueling. Their purchase therefore goes with Russian refueling aircraft.

3. The Pantsir S1E air defense missile systems. Syria has already received nine or ten batteries but Moscow has held up the rest of the 36-missile order at American insistence after part of the first consignment was transferred to Iran.

4. Damascus wants 800 Strelets short-range anti-air missiles. The Igla-S version, our military sources report, is shoulder-borne and able to hit surface-to-surface and cruise missiles. Damascus has informed Moscow that the vehicle-mounted version is acceptable for deployment along the Syrian-Israeli border as a defense against Israeli missiles.

5. A key component on the list is 75 Yak-130 light combat-cum-training planes. As a fighter craft for short distances, the Yak-130 is reputed to be one of the most effective of its type in any of the world’s air forces. The fact that it has been commissioned by Syria points to heavy investment, with the active help of Russian military experts, in creating a defense system for halting an Israeli invasion. The Yak-130 is an integral element of the combat equipment in Russian armored divisions. Syria will be able to use this fleet of 75 light combat craft to shield its armored divisions against Israel’s tank hunters, the Cobra and Blackhawk choppers. The Yak-130 outclasses the Israeli choppers in speed, maneuverability and firepower.

6. Syria wants to buy two Amur-1650 submarines, whose features compare with the Israel Navy’s German-made Dolphins, which are capable of firing cruise missiles. The Amur-class submarine can strike salvo missile blows at different targets. This is its outstanding feature. Its sonar signature level is considerably less than the Kilo-class vessels which are reputedly the most silent in the world. Amur subs can operate in all the world’s seas excepting those under solid ice cover, in all weather conditions and in shallow or deep water.

Source: http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1351

An Arms Deal for More than Weapons


One of the topics of talks during Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos Calderon will be military-technical cooperation between our two countries. Today that cooperation is insignificant. In the last five years, Russia has supplied Colombia only with a few Mi-17 helicopters. That is in sharp comparison to the $3-billion package of military hardware delivered to its neighbor Venezuela, which includes 24 Su-30MK2V fighter jets, among other things. Relations between the two Latin American countries are practically hostile. Pragmatic Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez is waging an endless war against Marxist rebel groups with American support. Venezuela’s indefatigable populist President Hugo Chavez openly supports the Colombian partisans and calls on Latin American for a “crusade” against the United States.

Latin America was the exclusive sphere of influence of the U.S. for a long time, so the USSR’s presence on the arms market there was determined by political factors during the Cold War. First it supported the Cuban Revolution, then the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Economic benefit was not a consideration. Paradoxically, the situation today is reminiscent of those times. Russia, the successor state to the USSR, is arming Venezuela, the main opponent of the U.S. in the Southern hemisphere. American military aid (about $600 million per year) helps Colombia maintain the military balance with its unpredictable neighbor. The U.S. political establishment is in an uproar saying that the Latin American situation is part of a general tendency in Russia’s restoration as a great power and the Kremlin’s desire to come into conflict with the U.S. in any corner of the world.

There is no political subtext, however. There are only financial interests. The U.S. lost that lucrative market when it imposed an arms embargo on Venezuela in 2005. Chavez was forced to search for new suppliers. On the other hand, the opening of the Latin American market was essential for the development of the Russian military industrial complex. The Chinese and Indian arms markets, long the main centers of Russian military supplying, were saturated and cooperation with those countries was gradually shifting to high technology. Now, Russian arms makers see Southeast Asia, North Africa and Latin America, where reliable and not excessively expensive arms are needed, as the most promising regions for them.

In that connection, the visit of the Colombian vice president and the possible conclusion of deals for military supplies are a confirmation that, in Latin America, Russia has no priorities other than economic. There question is something else. Will the Americans let their ally make those deals? There is fierce competition on the arms market. An arms deal with Russia would be a real breakthrough for Uribe. It would strengthen his position as a president who makes decisions independently and for whom the Americans are only allies. As Latin America turns leftward, that has a high value.

Source: http://www.kommersant.com/p896400/r_...ales_Colombia/

The Bear is Back


As recent reports make clear, Russia is now forcing its way back into the Middle East - and not necessarily in the most encouraging manner. By dangerously increasing its arms sales to the region, Moscow is seeking to restore prestige, bolster influence and - not least - to make money. The latest example came with reports that a high-level Syrian military delegation, led by Air Force commander Gen. Ahmad al-Ratyb, met last week in Moscow with Russian Defense Ministry officials to buy advanced weapons. These sales reportedly include S-300 advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems, long-range MiG 29SMT fighter jets, two Amur-1650 submarines, and Iskander high-precision short-range missiles.

Such Russian behavior is nothing new. In the days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union served for decades as the major arms supplier to Syria, Iraq and Egypt. In the last several years, Russia has sold Syria AT-14 Kornet guided anti-tank missiles, which Hizbullah used against Israeli forces in the Second Lebanon War (during which, ironically enough, Russia criticized the IDF's excessive use of force). Nor is Syria the only recipient of Russian arms. Moscow supplies the lion's share of Iran's conventional arms. Last year, Russia agreed to sell Iran $700 million worth of surface-to-air missile systems, and plans to upgrade Teheran's Su-24 and MiG-29 aircraft, and its T-72 battle tanks. Most troublingly, beginning in the mid-1990s, Russia built Iran's first nuclear reactor.

Nor does misplaced Russian largesse extend only to states. Of equal concern, perhaps, was the Kremlin's 2006 invitation of a Hamas delegation, led by Khaled Mashaal, to Moscow. To this day, Russia refuses to designate Hamas and Hizbullah as terrorist organizations. Lest it be thought that Russia seeks to promote the regional dominance of the Syria-Iran-terrorist axis, we hasten to add that Moscow has carried out similar dealings with Saudi Arabia. During his visit to Riyadh last February, President Vladimir Putin offered to sell Saudi Arabia sophisticated anti-aircraft systems, 150 T-90 tanks, and expanded satellite launches. He also offered to help the Saudis build "peaceful" nuclear reactors.

And the same ambition to gain leverage in the region as a whole accounts for the nuclear cooperation deal Russia signed with Egypt during Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Russia in March. WHERE DOES all this leave Russia-Israel relations? The answer begins with the recognition that since 1947, when Stalin backed the establishment of the State of Israel in the hope that it would undermine British imperial influence in the region, Russian behavior here has been almost ruthlessly pragmatic, rather than narrowly ideological. Russian pragmatism dictated its behavior during the period from the 1967 Six Day War, when Brezhnev broke off relations with Israel, until 1991, when Gorbachev restored them. And the same pragmatism dictates the far warmer relations today.

Although bilateral trade has stagnated at a mere $1 billion per year, strong business ties - especially in heavy industry, aviation, energy and medicine - link the two countries. Much of Israel's crude oil comes from the FSU. Now, however, Israel must put far greater pressure on Moscow to stop the sale of weapons that threaten Israel's basic security requirements. Israel can no longer allow Russia to maximize its regional power at Israel's expense. Effective Israeli diplomacy in this direction will appeal to Russian pragmatic self-interest. It will point out, for instance, that irresponsible Russian arms sales to hostile states will only invite the kind of instability in the Middle East that will harm Russia's bid for influence.

Such diplomacy must especially stress Moscow's fears of losing ground to Iran. Those fears clearly motivated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Jerusalem in March, during which he insisted that Russia, a member of the Quartet, is determined to press ahead with an international Middle East conference in Moscow in June. There are hopeful signs that Israeli diplomacy can turn Russia's pragmatic fears to healthier ends, as when Russian Ambassador to Israel Petr Stegniy told the Post last week that a nuclear Iran is as much "a nightmare" for Russia as it is for the US and Israel. In these and other ways, Israel can - indeed must - harness Russia's ambition to increase its clout in the Middle East to Israel's own strategic interests.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...=1211434094077

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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 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 for me because I had no assistance from anywhere. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside urged me to keep going; and I did. When Armenia joined the EEU and integrated into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago I finally felt a deep sense of relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my back. And when Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan reemerged in Armenian politics, 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 internal 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 anything 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 moderate the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what readers of this blog 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. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself.

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, going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Posts 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 Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you for reading.