Russia Wants Warships Stationed Around the World - January, 2009

I have been closely following Russia's comeback since Vladimir Putin rose to power. During Russia's gradual rise out of Yeltsin's hellhole, Western news media all but ignored Russia. Seldom would one find a news report on Russia unless there was some major/nasty occurrence that warranted some coverage. This abruptly changed, however, once Moscow decided it would have to kick the shit out of Washington's pathetic little street whore in Tbilisi. Ever since the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008, and especially after the onset of the economic crisis in the West, not a week passes without a major news media outlet in America featuring a major report on Russia's economic and/or political woes. They are doing this simply to form/shape/manipulate public opinion. Despite what they are trying to sell the sheeple via the controlled news press in America, Russia today has the potential for becoming 'the' global leader in the 21st century. In my opinion, Moscow will manage to do this within the next several decades. The secret to their global success relies on four fundamental geostrategic factors noted below:

1) Military deterrence

2) Development of good relations with China

3) Protection and efficient utilization of their vast natural resources

4) Establishment of friendly buffer states

During the past several years all four factors mentioned above have been moving in a forward direction with great speed except for number 4. While the Caucasus and eastern Asia have been secured by Moscow by a series of diplomatic, economic and military actions, the establishment of Russia-friendly states in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, however, has proven to be a bit difficult; but not impossible. Ukraine in Europe and Kazakhstan in Central Asia play key roles in this equation and both nations are being worked on diligently by Moscow. Policy makers in the West know this all too well. Thus, their panic, especially now that they are economically and militarily weakened. This is also the reason why the West is currently placing its hope and emphasis on several key Eastern European and Central Asian nations. Despite the global economic woes, keep your eyes on Russia.



Russia Wants Warships Stationed Around the World

January, 2009

Russia's military leaders approved a plan by the navy on Sunday to station warships permanently in friendly ports across the globe. Underfunded since the 1991 break up of the Soviet Union, the Russian navy has been reasserting itself over the last year by chasing Somali pirates around the coast of east Africa and steaming across the Atlantic to visit allies in South America. "The General Staff has given its position on this issue and it fully supports the position of the (Navy's) main committee," deputy chief of staff Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told RIA Novosti news agency. A resurgent navy has become central to a strategy for Russia -- which enjoyed a decade of economic revival from 1998 -- to project itself in foreign affairs. In August a Russian diplomat said the navy was to make more use of a Syrian Mediterranean Sea port. Last month a Russian warship cruised off Cuba after visiting South America for the first time since 1991. Nogovitsyn said Russia was directly negotiating with foreign governments to station warships at bases around the world permanently, although he declined to give exact details. "Nobody can predict where problems could flare up," he said. "What we need are permanent bases, but these are very costly. They need to be considered very carefully." RIA Novosti wrote that the Russian navy was already in negotiations to build a permanent Black Sea Port in the Russia-backed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.


Senior Chinese, Russian Military Officials Hold First-Ever Talks via Direct Phone Link

Chen Bingde, chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China and his Russian counterpart Nikolay Makarov held their first-ever conversation via direct phone link on Monday. Both military leaders hailed the successful launch of the direct phone link. Chen said the launch of the direct phone link between the two countries' chiefs of general staff is another important measure for deepening pragmatic cooperation between Chinese and Russian militaries and another showcase of the tow countries' mutual political trust and strategic cooperation. The direct phone link will help the two sides maintain timely communication on significant issues such as the exchange and cooperation between the armies and exchange views and collaborate stances in time on international and regional affairs, so as to promote the exchange and cooperation between the two militaries, Chen added. For his part, Makarov said the launch of the direct phone link once more showcased the high-level of the China-Russia strategic partnership and the two countries' military ties. He expressed his willingness to work with the Chinese side to keep frequent exchanges on the two armies' cooperation and other important issues in order to push forward their military ties. The two leaders also exchanged views on international and regional situation, bilateral relations, and other issues of common concern.


Russia, the World's Second-Largest Oil Producer, Sees Energy as a Key Foreign Policy Tool.

A vast state-run energy conglomerate has been assembled over the past year, some experts say, to fuel Russia's bid to revive Soviet-style great power status. To date, the Kremlin has effectively renationalized almost a third of the formerly private oil-and-gas sector. Other developments also point to growing state ambitions:

• A $15-billion Siberian pipeline, due to begin pumping in 2008, will shift Russian crude exports to Asia, particularly China, where Moscow is cultivating fresh strategic relationships.

• A 737-mile gas line being laid under the Baltic Sea will cut out middlemen Ukraine and Poland, whose relations with Moscow have recently soured, while locking in Russia as Western Europe's key energy supplier.

• State-run Gazprom has teamed up with several foreign partners to develop a vast Barents Sea gas field whose production, converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG), could begin supplying the US market by 2010.

• A long-delayed law on subsoil resources, to be passed by the Duma next year, is expected to ban foreign-owned companies from exploring or developing Russian oil fields and other key mineral resources.

"Amazing changes are happening swiftly, because Putin has understood that energy is Russia's key card to play at the international table," says Michael Heath, a political analyst with Aton, a Russian brokerage. "Instead of the military force the Soviet Union used to project its power, Russia is using oil as a major tool of foreign policy."

Russia is the world's second-largest producer of petroleum - about 8 million barrels of crude per day - which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country's GDP. Spiking global oil prices over the past five years have wafted state budgets into the black, fueled a modest economic boom, and enabled the Central Bank to rack up reserves of $170 billion. But far beyond taxing windfall energy profits, the Kremlin has moved to take over the industry. Russia's third-largest oil firm, Yukos, was dismantled in parallel with the prosecution of its politically defiant owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and its main production units gobbled up by the state oil company Rosneft. Earlier this year, the government took a controlling 51 percent stake in Gazprom, the natural-gas giant that holds a quarter of the world's reserves, and Gazprom paid $13 billion to purchase Russia's fifth-largest oil company, Sibneft. Sibneft, now effectively state-owned, moved this month to purchase a 25 percent stake in the huge Lopukhov oil field, on Russia's Pacific coast, formerly held by TNK-BP, a Russian-British joint venture.

"Now the state directly controls about 30 percent of petroleum production in Russia and the big question is, how much more will it take?" says Valery Nesterov, an energy expert with Troika Dialogue, a Russian investment bank. "This is a big cause of concern for Russian and foreign oil investors."

In the short run, the Kremlin's oil grab may have damaged Russia's energy prospects, Mr. Nesterov says. Growth in oil production has plunged from an average 9 percent in Putin's early years to just 3 percent this year. Exploration has virtually ground to a halt, as both foreign and domestic investors wait to see what the new rules of the game will be. Inner-Kremlin squabbling appears to have halted a planned merger between Gazprom and Rosneft that would have created a gargantuan state-run petroleum conglomerate. Tightened state control could prove good news for foreign investors who want a piece of Russia's oil pie but don't insist on controlling rights. Up to 49 percent of Rosneft may soon be sold to outside investors, to raise cash to repay $7.5 billion the state borrowed to acquire a majority stake in Gazprom. Curbs on foreigners seeking to buy shares in Gazprom will also soon be lifted, experts say.

"The new rule is that not less than 50 percent must belong to the state," says Nikolai Nikitin, editor of Neftegazovaya Vertikal, a Russian petroleum industry journal. "No longer will private companies be allowed to get fat from Russia's mineral resources."

Experts say the Kremlin aims to blunt international criticism of its takeover of the energy sector by offering a few symbolic management positions to prominent foreigners such as former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has reportedly agreed to head the new North European gas pipeline project, which will carry Russian gas directly to Germany. Earlier this month, Putin personally offered former US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans the post of Rosneft chairman, a job Mr. Evans turned down. Putin has appointed some of his top aides to run the Kremlin's newly acquired empire.The daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta estimated earlier this year that seven people from Putin's inner circle now control nine state companies with total assets of $222 billion, which is equal to 40 percent of Russia's GDP. Some experts argue that the unregulated "oligarchic" capitalism of the 1990s brought on a public backlash and made the state's return to economic intervention necessary. "Many private oil companies were not serving the national interest, and those mistakes had to be corrected," says Nazit Boikov, an expert with the official Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow.

Others allege that a new Kremlin elite is simply helping itself to Russia's riches, much as the oligarchs of the past decade did. "Just ignore all that rhetoric about returning resources to national control," says Stanislav Belkovsky, director of the independent Center for National Strategy. "A certain group of people are using nationalization as a mechanism to enrich themselves; that's the bottom line." Last week Kremlin economic adviser Andrei Illaryonovslammed what he called the transformation of Russia into a giant corporation. "The main outcome of this year is the formulation of a new corporatist model for political, economic, social, public, and international life," said the outspoken Mr. Illaryonov, who Tuesday offered his resignation. "Until recently, no one put any restrictions on me expressing my point of view. Now the situation has changed," the Associated Press reported him as saying.

While there may be confusion over the long-term domestic impact of Putin's policies, there seems little doubt that direct control over Russia's vast petroleum resources offers the Kremlin substantial foreign-policy clout in an increasingly energy-starved world. At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in mid-December, Putin pledged to ramp up oil deliveries to Asia, from the present 3 percent of Russia's total exports to 30 per cent by 2020. In a joint statement, leaders of the 10-nation group pledged to build a "comprehensive partnership" and boost trade and security cooperation with Russia. A new Siberian pipeline should start pumping crude in 2008, with early deliveries going mainly to China. "Russia has been seeking a more active role in the Asia-Pacific region, and it's been recognized that only oil that can facilitate this," says Yury Sinyak, head of energy studies at the official Institute of National Economic Forecasting in Moscow. "It's an open question whether Russia actually has enough oil to fulfill all the political promises."

If the Kremlin is demonstrating that energy supplies can be dangled like a carrot, it has also realized they can be wielded like a stick. Ukraine, which broke free of Moscow's orbit in last year's "Orange Revolution," was hit last month with more than a quadruple price hike for natural gas supplies - from $50 per 1,000 cubic meters to $230. Kiev has protested that it cannot adjust to such a rapid price hike, but Gazprom has threatened to shut down gas deliveries to Ukraine on New Year's Day if it doesn't comply. Ukraine announced Tuesday an agreement had been reached but a Gazprom spokesman in Moscow denied the claim. Meanwhile Belarus, Moscow's most loyal former Soviet ally, has contracted with Gazprom to pay just $46 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.


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Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. Please note that the comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years has helped me see the Russian nation as the last front on earth against the scourges of Westernization, Americanization, Globalism, 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/European civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. These sobering realizations 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 perhaps the only voice preaching about the strategic importance of Armenia's close ties to the Russian nation. 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 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, dare I say voice, inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and fully integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relief, 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 generally speaking Armenians are collectively recognizing the vital/strategic importance of Armenia's ties with the Russian nation. Today, no man, no political party is capable of driving a wedge between Armenia and Russia. That danger has passed. Anglo-American-Jewish agenda in Armenia failed. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. 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 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.

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