"It would be wrong to talk about one nation having exclusive rights to Latin America" - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor SechinRussia Test-Fires Ballistic Missile 6,700 Kilometers to Pacific
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Russian Navy Sails to Venezuela
Russian warships have set off for Venezuela for joint exercises unprecedented since the Cold War. The fleet of ships, headed by the nuclear-powered Peter the Great cruiser, set off from its base at Severomorsk in the Arctic. The ships are due to take part in joint manoeuvres with Venezuela in November. The move is seen as a rebuff to the United States, which is facing increasingly fraught relationships with the two nations. Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the ships set sail at 1000 local time (0600 GMT), and would travel 15,000 nautical miles to reach their destination. "It's the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Peter the Great, the anti-submarine warship Admiral Chebanenko and other accompanying ships," he told the AFP news agency. Two Russian bombers arrived in Venezuela last week for training flights. Moscow has intensified ties with Venezuela and other Latin American countries recently as its relationship with Washington has become strained. Caracas and Moscow have signed arms contracts, and are looking to extend bilateral co-operation on energy. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, in Caracas last week, said five Russian oil firms were looking to begin operations in Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who will visit Moscow this week, said on Sunday that Latin America needed a strong friendship with Russia to help reduce Washington's influence in the region. A staunch critic of the US, he backed Russian intervention in Georgia last month and has accused Washington of being scared of Moscow's "new world potential". Mr Sechin also warned the US not to view Latin America as its own backyard. "It would be wrong to talk about one nation having exclusive rights to this zone," he told the Associated Press. During the Cold War, Latin America became an ideological battleground between the US and the then USSR.
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Russian Strategic Bombers to Join Military Drills With Belarus
Russian strategic bombers will conduct practice launches of various types of missiles on October 6-12 during large-scale Russia-Belarus military exercises which started Monday, the Air Force commander said. The Stability-2008 exercises will last until October 21 in various regions of Russia and Belarus with the goal of practicing strategic deployment of the Armed Forces, including the nuclear triad, to counter potential threats near the Russian border. "The exercise will involve the majority of personnel and strategic aircraft in service with strategic aviation," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said. "The crews will deploy the entire range of on-board weaponry." According to various sources, the Russian Air Force currently has in service at least 141 Tu-22M3 Backfire-C, 40 Tu-95 Bear-H and 16 modernized Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers. The bombers carry long-range cruise missiles and short-range nuclear missiles as primary weaponry. Moscow has repeatedly stressed the need to continue the development of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces, including its airborne component, and said they should be able to respond promptly and effectively to any aggression. The Russian Air Force combat training program has scheduled more than 200 exercises with 350 live firing drills for the second half of 2008.
Russia successfully fired its newest intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine located in the White Sea to a target on the Pacific coast 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) away, the military said. The Bulava missile was fired from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine at 6:45 p.m. and struck the Kura range on the Kamchatka Peninsula at 7:05 p.m. Moscow time yesterday, state television said. "Initial data indicates the missile performed according to plan,'' it cited the Defense Ministry as saying. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said Russia can produce missiles capable of piercing any defenses. Yesterday's test of the Bulava, which has an estimated maximum range of 8,000 kilometers, comes as the country upgrades its rocket forces to counter a planned U.S. anti-missile shield in eastern Europe. Russia rejects the Bush administration's assertion that the system is aimed at defending Europe from a nuclear-armed Iran and sees it as part of a plan to isolate the country that began with NATO's expansion. Ties with the U.S. were further strained when Russia sent warplanes and troops into Georgia last month in its biggest foreign military operation since the Cold War. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned in a speech yesterday that Russia had taken a "dark turn'' characterized by authoritarianism at home and aggression abroad and called for U.S. and European unity to meet the challenge.
The "paranoid, aggressive impulse, which has manifested itself before in Russian history, to view the emergence of free and independent democratic neighbors'' not as a source of security but as a source of threat, has re-emerged, she said. Rice rejected suggestions that the West provoked Russia by pledging in April that Georgia and Ukraine would ultimately be admitted to NATO. Russia's behavior "cannot be blamed on NATO enlargement,'' she said. NATO has transformed itself from a Cold War alliance in a divided Europe to "a means for nurturing the growth of a Europe whole, free and at peace, and for confronting dangers, like terrorism, that also threaten Russia,'' she said. Russia's invasion followed a Georgian attack on the Russia- backed breakaway region of South Ossetia. The government in Moscow said last week it will boost defense spending by 26 percent to a post-Soviet record 1.28 trillion rubles ($50 billion). Funding will be directed toward its Topol intercontinental ballistic missile program, upgrading nuclear-weapons-equipped Tu-160 bombers and completing the Borei-class submarine Yuriy Dolgoruky, said Andrei Frolov, a defense specialist at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. Russia says the U.S. anti-missile shield, comprising a radar installation in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland, is designed to undermine its nuclear deterrent. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization expanded to Russia's borders when the former Soviet republics of Estonia and Latvia joined the alliance in 2004. Past tests of the Bulava, designed for a new generation of nuclear submarines, have had mixed success, with three failing in 2006 and one in 2005.
Russia, Cuba to Implement Joint Space Programs
There is every reason to say that Russia has started reasserting its global position. This includes big-time politics and efforts to expand scientific and military-technical cooperation with other countries, including Cuba, the Soviet Union's main Latin American ally. It is hard to overestimate the importance of Latin America, and Cuba in particular, for Russia. Commenting on the results of Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev's August 2008 visit to Cuba, Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the State Duma, said Russia, as a major power, needed to maintain its economic and security presence in Cuba.
In mid-September, Moscow and Havana negotiated joint space projects. Anatoly Perminov, director of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), said the sides had discussed the possibility of setting up a Cuban space center with Russian assistance. Perminov said both countries had discussed the implementation of agreements reached by the Russian-Cuban inter-governmental commission two months ago. "This primarily concerns the drafting of a cooperation agreement on civilian space programs, another agreement on the Global Navigation Satellite System and navigation support on Cuban territory," Perminov said. The proposed Cuban space center will process data received from Russian remote-sensing and navigation satellites. We also plan to jointly use orbital telecommunications networks, Perminov said.
Cuba, which at one time implemented an ambitious space program, retains the required infrastructure for resuming large-scale space research. In the mid-1960s, Moscow and Havana launched a space-physics project, obtaining new data on the upper ionosphere with the help of Soviet satellites. A tracking station, built near Santiago de Cuba in 1967, made it possible to observe high-orbit Soviet scientific satellites. In September 1980, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez became the first Cuban cosmonaut and the first person from a country in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States to travel into Earth orbit, spending about eight days aboard the Soviet Salyut-6 station. The Cuban space-research experience, plus up-to-date Russian technical achievements, will help both countries implement advanced space programs.
Russia, France Sign Contract to Launch 10 Rockets From Kourou
Russia's space agency and French satellite launch firm Arianespace signed a contract on Saturday to launch 10 Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from the Kourou space center in French Guiana. The contract was signed by Russian Federal Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov and Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall after a session of a bilateral inter-governmental commission, which took place on the sidelines of the investment forum under way in Russia's Black Sea resort Sochi. "The contract envisions the purchase of ten Soyuz carrier rockets to be launched from the space center in Guiana... The contract is estimated at a total of $300-$400 million," Le Gall said adding that the first launch is scheduled for late 2009. The Kourou launch site is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the equator will enable the Soyuz-ST to put into orbit heavier satellites than from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia. Under a contract signed in June with Arianespace, the Soyuz will have a separate launch pad near Sinnamari, a village 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the site used for the Ariane-5, the main European-made booster. Launches of Soyuz spacecraft are the key part of the Russian-French program of cooperation in space exploration. Le Gall said three or four Soyuz boosters are planned to be launched annually as of 2010.