Israel Urges Moscow to Halt Iran Sale

It now seems very likely that Moscow has been using the possibility of supplying Iran with their S-300 air defense system as a bargaining chip in their bid to stop the anti-missile shield deployment in eastern Europe by the US. However, the S-300 is not Moscow's only bargaining chip. At the very least I hope not because one does not even begin to compare with the other. Consider what the US anti-missile shield is meant to accomplish - make possible a theoretical nuclear first strike on Russia. And then consider what the S-300 delivery to Tehran is meant to accomplish - simply protect Iran from US and/or Israeli aggression.

Compared to the S-300 appearing in Iran, a US missile shield appearing in eastern Europe takes on epic, even sinister proportions. So, the S-300 is not that much of a bargaining tool against the US after all. The fundamental problem here is this: Mutually Assured Destruction, the idea that both sides would get annihilated in a nuclear holocaust was the primary deterrence that kept the peace during the Cold War. This deterrence factor was weakened somewhat after the fall of the Soviet Union when the Russian military fell into severe disarray. The West, US in particular, has been smelling blood ever since. It would be in the West's interests to kill the pray before it gets back up on its feet. It's obvious that Moscow is in a real panic over this situation and rightfully so. Had they known that their missile systems could easily counter the threat posed by the US simply by introducing new missile systems or repositioning their existing ones, Moscow would not be reacting as they have been. In my opinion, Moscow is scared because it has a vulnerability that Washington seems to be exploiting.

It would be interesting to know what's their main concern, what specifically is their vulnerability. While it's important for Moscow to modernize its army, it's crucially important for them to concentrate on producing more nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines. They would also need secure naval centers around the world for their submarines to utilize. As scary as it may sound, the only thing that would stop a major Western aggression against Russia at this point is a bunch of modern ICBM equipped Russian submarines constantly lurking close to US and European territorial waters.



Israel Urges Moscow to Halt Iran Sale

December, 2008

A senior Israeli defense official visited Moscow in an attempt to dissuade Russia from selling missile defense systems to Iran. Amos Gilad, the head of the defense ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau, traveled to the Russian capital Wednesday to explain Israel's opposition to the deal. At the same time, Israeli defense officials continued to waver on the sale of a batch of unmanned aerial drones to Russia, which has been unsuccessful at creating its own pilotless drone program. The purchase would be Moscow's first ever from Israel. Some evidence suggests that Israel may be holding out on the drones as leverage to keep the S-300 missile systems from going to Iran, according to a report in the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency. "We are working on this issue," said Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the head of Russia's armed forces, according to the Interfax news agency. "We are considering a test batch of Israeli drones." Israel is concerned that the S-300 missile system could be sold to Syria or Iran and hinder any first strike capability. In an unrelated deal, Russia said this week it would include 10 MiG-29 fighter jets to Lebanon as part of a military aid package. The used Russian planes will be overhauled, restored and handed over to the Lebanese government.


S-300s for Iran: an argument for peace

The likelihood of Russia supplying S-300 surface-to-air systems to Iran has always been a headache for the United States and its allies. For several years the media has reported the conclusion of a contract or even the actual shipment of long-range air defense missiles to Iran. As a rule, these reports came from Iranian sources and were later denied by Russia. On December 17, 2008, RIA Novosti, quoting confidential sources, reported on its website that Russia is to deliver S-300 surface-to-air systems to Iran. Which, based on previous experience, is most likely true. How will the balance of strength change in this region if Iran really gets the systems? Before considering an answer, it is necessary to see what weapons Iran's armed forces will receive and in what quantities. It has been repeatedly stated that Iran expects to get five battalions of S-300PMUs, or up to 20 systems (60 launchers), depending on the make-up of a battalion.

Each of the launchers carries four 48N6E missiles (48N6E2s with the PMU-2 mobile launchers) with a range of 150 kilometers (up to 200 kilometers for the 48N6E2s). Each launch system consists of three launchers and is capable of engaging six targets at the same time, aiming 12 missiles at them. One battalion consisting of four systems is, therefore, capable of dealing with 24 aircraft simultaneously. After changing position and replenishing ammunition, it can be quickly re-deployed for repulsing a repeat raid. It should be remembered that S-300 missiles themselves need to be protected - for this purpose Iran can use Tor-M1 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and Chinese FM-80s. Coupled with S-300s, these short-range missiles can set up a credible air defense system able to protect the facility covered and itself. In this tandem, S-300s will act as a long arm to shoot down sophisticated targets at long distances, while close-in weapons will protect the facility and S-300s from cruise missiles, aircraft and UAVs that break through.

Five battalions of S-300 SAMs will contribute significantly not only to the protection of designated facilities, but also to the defense capability of the country as a whole. Deliveries of new SAMs will make it possible to move old systems to other parts of the country, increasing its air defense density. Should Iran have time to deploy the Russian systems and to control the grouping, the overall damage from air defenses may exceed the threshold acceptable to Iran's potential opponents. S-300s do not, of course, guarantee Iran's invincibility or invulnerability. The U.S. Air Force and naval aviation can, if necessary, break through even these defenses. At issue is the time required and acceptable level of loss. Ultimately, the question may prove to be the main argument in the hands of those opposed to a military operation against Iran and remove an Iran-U.S. armed conflict from the agenda for a long time.


In other news:

Georgia Lags in Its Bid to Fix Army

The Georgian military, which was routed in August during a brief war with Russia, suffers from widespread mismanagement and unqualified leadership, and is in need of extensive reforms to become a modern fighting force, according to a classified Pentagon assessment conducted this fall. The assessment, by a team of American military officers that worked quietly in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, in October and November, offers a clinical view of a politicized military culture and substandard practices in a country lobbying to join NATO while embroiled in two bloody territorial disputes with Russia. The assessment underscores the difficult choices to be faced by President-elect Barack Obama, whose foreign policy team will be balancing decisions on how to engage Georgia against concerns that commitments to assist its military will further inflame Russia. The report, portions of which were shown to The New York Times by a person concerned about the poor readiness of Georgia’s military, made implicitly clear that after more than a decade of American training and nearly five years of heavy investment by President Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s military remains immature and ill prepared. Georgia’s armed forces, the report said, are highly centralized, prone to impulsive rather than deliberative decision making, undermined by unclear lines of command and led by senior officials who were selected for personal relationships rather than professional qualifications.

Moreover, according to the report, Georgia’s military lacks basic elements of a modern military bureaucracy, ranging from a sound national security doctrine to clear policies for handling classified material to a personnel-management system to guide soldiers through their careers. In recent years, Georgia has presented itself as an eager if lightly qualified partner in NATO and American-led military missions abroad. Its soldiers have participated in deployments to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, where its troop contingent became the third largest national contribution. This month in Brussels, the 26 member nations of NATO reaffirmed their intention of eventually allowing Georgia and its armed forces of about 30,000 troops to join. But they did not offer a detailed set of programs, known as a Membership Action Plan, for Georgia’s accession — a sign regarded as a setback for swift membership. The decision to decelerate Georgia’s NATO ambitions was largely political. Several countries expressed worries that backing Georgia would harm relations with Russia, which has cast Mr. Saakashvili’s government as erratic and has objected to further NATO expansion in the former Soviet sphere. Many Western diplomats and military officers have also voiced misgivings about the behavior and judgment of the Georgian government. After years of provocations by Georgia and Russia alike, Georgia launched an attack in August against the separatist enclave of South Ossetia. The attack was stymied by a large-scale Russian invasion and the defeat of the Georgian Army on its home soil.

American and Georgian officials have said the postwar military assessment, which was conducted by the United States European Command, was not a factor in the NATO decision. “We did not do our assessment with the guidance to determine if Georgia is ready for NATO membership,” Gen. John Craddock, the American officer who leads the European Command, said in an interview. “Our assessment was: As a result of the August conflict, give me the state of the Georgian armed forces.” The assessment showed, however, the degree to which Georgia’s military would have to improve, in practical terms, to be ready for NATO membership should political objections recede. It also served as a stark message that the readiness of Georgia’s military was not as Georgia had portrayed it. Georgia has framed its military revival since Mr. Saakashvili came to power in early 2004 as a grand achievement and an indicator of the country’s progress. The military Mr. Saakashvili inherited was a Red Army orphan: small, decrepit, badly trained and poorly equipped. In the early 1990s the Georgian Army lost two wars against Russian-backed separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Some of its troops were accused of committing war crimes. (Abkhaz and Ossetian forces have also been accused of ugly battlefield excesses.)

Mr. Saakashvili purchased new arms and vehicles, raised salaries, built new bases, increased the country’s collaboration with the Pentagon and urged the armed forces to emulate Western practices, in part by encouraging volunteer soldiers. The Georgian military appeared to be transforming. American officers praised a few of their Georgian counterparts in Iraq. And Eduard Kokoity, the president of South Ossetia, said the Georgian military was much more prepared and capable in its initial attack in August than it had been in the past. But as the war drew into a second day and Russian forces flowed into South Ossetia, the Georgian military quickly broke down. Many commanders were reduced to communicating by cellphone. The army fired cluster munitions on its own villages. Many units fled, abandoning equipment, ammunition and their own dead. According to the assessment’s report, some of the problems should have been unsurprising. Georgia’s armed forces, the assessment found, lack “the doctrine, institutional training and the experience needed to effectively command and control organizations throughout the chain of command.” In another section, the report added: “Collaborative planning and sharing of information does not take place due to culture and organizational stove-pipes. As a result, coordinated efforts are essentially nonexistent.”

An American officer who has worked alongside the Georgian military and was familiar with the assessment said that the American team also found that Georgia had a poor grasp of military intelligence, and did not collect or share its intelligence in an organized fashion. This, in the officer’s view, contributed to failures in August. “One of the reasons they got into the war is that their command and control is a mess,” the officer said. “They have no ability to process and analyze strategic information and provide it to decision makers in a systematic way.” The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the assessment. The report also took a dim view of Georgia’s senior military leaders, noting that the process for choosing defense officials “is based on personal relationships and not tied to education, training or any system of performance evaluation.” Since the report was shared with Georgia, Mr. Saakashvili has shuffled the Defense Ministry’s leadership, although it is not clear that military experience has been given primacy in the choices. Early this month he dismissed an ally, Davit Kezerashvili, the 30-year-old defense minister who held the post during the war, and replaced him with Vasil Sikharulidze. The new minister is a trained psychiatrist and another Saakashvili ally who had served as the ambassador to the United States. Both American and Georgian officials said the assessment was not complete. The United States military, along with NATO officials, plans to provide recommendations to the Defense Ministry intended to improve Georgia’s readiness. It was not immediately clear when the recommendations might be provided. Georgia has been reluctant to discuss the assessment or its findings.

In October, Batu Kutelia, Georgia’s first deputy minister of defense, declined to comment on the assessment. This month, after The New York Times had read portions of the assessment, he spoke about it without addressing its main findings, saying they were classified. Mr. Kutelia insisted, however, that NATO’s assessment of Georgia’s military for the past two or three years, including an assessment this fall, was “very positive and underlined significant achievement.” The claim could not be confirmed because NATO’s assessments have not been made public. In an e-mail message Mr. Kutelia said that the Pentagon assessment had been performed at Georgia’s request as part of a “very responsible” postwar review. “We have asked our strategic partners, as it is usually the case after every war, to help us in identifying the shortfalls in our defense system and for that purpose to conduct the comprehensive diagnostics,” he wrote. A senior official in Washington said that the assessment had found significant shortcomings, and that Georgia and its Western supporters would have to decide how to proceed. “We did an honest job,” the officials said. “And we said to them, ‘You should know you need to make some changes if you want to have a professional military force.’ ”



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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.

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