Russia Rises Amid Geopolitical Events - March, 2011

Having already reversed much of the West's advances throughout Eurasia during the past several years and having more-or-less monopolized the distribution of Central Asian energy, the on-going political turmoils in the Middle East and North Africa and the historic catastrophe that just took place in Japan could not have come at a better time for the Russian Federation. Already controlling by-far the largest known energy reserves on earth, Moscow today is poised to dominate the global economy via its energy sector.

In the big geopolitical picture, at least indirectly, most (if not all) of the political violence we are seeing take place in the world today (including the situation in Nagorno Karabakh) has to do with the control of energy production and/or energy distribution. Oil production in the north Atlantic is dwindling fast and the Middle East is not too far behind. Energy reserves in north and south Americas simply cannot meet global demand and its production is not centrally controlled. Central Asian energy is currently being contested. Unknown to many in all this is the fact that the Russian Federation today is actually the largest energy producer in the world and its untapped energy reserves are thought to immense as well. Moreover, Russia has also taken a strong initiative in the energy rich Arctic region.

If the Kremlin is able to continue managing itself as well as it has been in recent years, within the next few decades the economy of the world, the developed world in particular, will be seriously dependent on Russia's natural wealth. Kremlin officials realize their nation's power potential all too well. Moscow realizes that they have in their position a weapon more powerful than any other in their vast military arsenal. How efficiently they will be able to use it, however, remains to be seen.


Addressing the last article posted on this page: I don't know if "World War III" is knocking on the door just yet, but I do know that the global community is currently preparing itself for a major international confrontation. In various places around the world we are seeing battle-lines being drawn. We are also seeing geopolitical realignments. Not if but when this inevitable war commences, the Russian Federation and/or its allies will essentially be battling the Western alliance and/or its allies for the control of Eurasian energy and strategic trade routes. What role will China play in all this is not yet clear. Although Beijing has very warm relations with Moscow, it nevertheless is also very heavily invested in the West. Nevertheless, the 21th century holds many promises for the Russian nation and if it plays its political cards correctly, Moscow will no doubt be in the drivers seat. And with Russia in the driver seat this century, at the very least I'd like to see Armenia in its passenger seat.

Several articles posted at the bottom of this page is concerning Moscow's recently announced arms spending program. The 20 trillion Rubles (approximately $650 billion) is part of a long-term plan to modernize Russia's aging military arsenal. Unconfirmed reports also suggested that some of weapons systems currently in Russian service may end up in Armenia free of charge as a result of Moscow's new purchases. The article pertaining to a Wikileaks document (see bottom of page) reveals that Western military officials have been "unimpressed" by Russia's military. Needless to say, this is either the pinnacle of Western hubris - or simply an attempt to alleviate fears amongst regional US allies. Although a relatively small force of about ten thousand Russian troops armed with Soviet era military hardware, bad air cover and even worst communications brought all of Georgia's Western trained and armed military to its knees within two or three days - the noble masters of combat in the West are apparently not impressed!

The fact of the matter is, even being unprepared and armed with relatively ancient military technology, Russian troops utterly/comprehensively defeated their well-prepared and well-armed enemy in a full-scale combat. This begs the question: What has the mighty armies of the Western world done besides long-distance bombing of small and/or vulnerable nations into submission? Hundreds of thousands of NATO/American troops armed with the very latest in military technology and a virtually unlimited supply of supplies have not been able to comprehensively defeat a bunch of sandal wearing peasants armed with Kalashnikovs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Therefore, the real question that should be asked is: what is the actual combat value of Western troops without their high-tech bombs and aircraft? The following are some articles on this topic that have caught my attention.

Arevordi

March, 2011
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Russia Rises Amid Geopolitical Events

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The first three months of 2011 have had a steady flow of geopolitically relevant events. A youth named Mohamed Bouazizi, protesting corruption and government harassment in Tunisia, set more than himself alight on Dec. 17: He set an entire region on fire. Soon after, Tunisia and Egypt saw their long-time rulers fall. Libya essentially descended into civil war, and exit is uncertain. On Monday, almost exactly three months after Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council’s forces entered the tiny island nation of Bahrain to prevent Iran from exploiting the anti-government protests there. The region’s unrest continues with almost daily action in North Africa and the Middle East. Around the globe, the March 11 Japan Tohoku earthquake rocked the world’s third largest economy and has caused the most serious nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Among all this global consternation, Russia is the one power that has the luxury to take stock of it all in relative comfort. Russia has no reason to fear Middle East-style revolutionary activity. Its leadership is genuinely popular at home and safe from populist uprisings, at least for the time being. Russia is not embroiled in any war in the Middle East — unlike the United States, which is involved in two wars and trying hard to avoid a third one in Libya. Russia fears no migration exodus of North African refugees on its borders, as do the Europeans. Even the nuclear accident in Japan seems to be without negative effect for Russia, as the prevailing winds are blowing the radiation toward the Pacific Ocean and away from Russia’s eastern city of Vladivostok.

“Among all this global consternation, Russia is the one power that has the luxury to take stock of it all in relative comfort.”

In fact, Russia may be the one country that stands to gain from the various calamities in 2011. First, the general unrest in the Middle East has increased the price of oil by 18.5 percent. As the second largest oil exporter — and one not bound by OPEC production quotas — the increase in price goes directly into the Kremlin’s swelling coffers and is a welcome addition after the severe economic recession in 2009. Second, the Libyan unrest has cut off the 11 billion cubic-meter natural gas (bcm) Greenstream pipeline to Italy, causing Europe’s third largest consumer of natural gas to turn to Russia to make up the difference. Similarly, Japan’s nuclear imbroglio has forced Tokyo to turn to Russian emergency shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fuel its natural gas-burning power plants.

But the most beneficial of all events for Russia may be the psychological effect that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crisis is having on Western Europe. Germany’s government announced on Tuesday that it would close seven nuclear reactors during a three-month period, reassessing the future of Germany’s nuclear power industry. A looming Italian referendum on the government’s decision to unfreeze nuclear reactor construction now seems all but guaranteed to fail. Criticism of nuclear power has swept throughout the Continent with the European Union energy ministers deciding on Tuesday to subject the bloc’s nuclear reactors to a number of stress tests.

Europe’s hydropower capabilities are at capacity, while coal-burning power plants are perceived as incompatible with the bloc’s drive to reduce greenhouse emissions. The only alternatives left are renewable energy, which is slowly inching up in terms of overall electricity generation; nuclear power; and natural gas, which is seen as the much cleaner fossil fuel option to coal and oil. With fears about nuclear power returning to the Continent, it seems natural gas will be favored to fill the gap until renewable energy can become a larger part of the electricity generating mix.

As the world’s number one exporter of natural gas — and with the world’s largest reserves — this is very welcome news for the Kremlin. But for Russia, natural gas exports are about a lot more than just added revenue. For Russia, the natural gas exports are about control and political influence. Luring Western Europe toward greater energy dependency on Russia is ultimately about wrestling the region away from its post-WWII alliance with the United States. As the Middle East and North Africa continue to wrestle with unrest — again reminding Europe of the region’s political uncertainty and fallibility as an energy exporter — and as Europe’s populations are reminded of their fears of nuclear power, Moscow is taking stock of it all.

But Moscow is also interested in how the crises around the world are politically beneficial outside of the energy realm. First, the devastation in Japan has allowed Moscow and Tokyo to have a rare conversation about cooperation after years (if not more) of declining relations over an island dispute. Russia is magnanimously trying to show that it isn’t such a bad neighbor to have, and is sending some of the larger amounts of aid, energy and rescue assistance.

The crises could also give Russia something it holds very precious — time. One of the reasons Russia grew so strong over the past decade is that its rival, the United States, was focused elsewhere. Moscow has been growing nervous in the past year knowing that Washington is starting to wrap up its commitments in the Middle East and South Asia. There is a discussion now rumbling through the Kremlin whether the events in the Middle East may keep the United States focused there a while longer, giving Russia even more time to cement its nearly dominant position in Eurasia. Thus far, the Kremlin must be satisfied with what the first three months of 2011 have brought in terms of its own strategic interests.

Source of article: http://www.stratfor.com/memberships/188127/geopolitical_diary/20110315-russia-rises-amid-geopolitical-events

How Russia Is About to Dramatically Change the World

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Over the next few days, Russia will change the world. It has completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets Russia up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The ramifications for Europe and Asia are profound: The shape of the global economy—and the global balance of power—will be altered forever.

December 28 was a big day of ceremony in Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pushed a button that transformed global oil dynamics—especially for Asia and Europe. The button released thousands of barrels of Siberian crude into a waiting Russian supertanker and heralded the opening of Russia’s first modern Pacific-based oil export facilities. The multibillion-dollar, state-of-the-art oil terminal was a “great New Year present for Russia,” Putin said during the inauguration. The strategic terminal, located in the city of Kozmino on the coast of the Sea of Japan, is one of the “biggest projects in contemporary Russia” he said, not only in “modern Russia,” but “the former Soviet Union too.”

Putin has every right to be enthusiastic about his new port. Kozmino will unlock a two-way gate through which Russia’s vast Siberian oilfields will gush into Asia’s energy-hungry economies—and Chinese, Korean and Japanese currency will flow into Russia. If just the seven ships currently waiting to berth are all filled during January, the port of Kozmino will instantly become Russia’s third-most important oil outlet. According to Reuters, the first oil transport loads on January 15. In a symbolic move highlighting Russia’s warming relationship with China, Hong Kong will receive the first shipment.

After that, Kozmino’s importance will exponentially grow over the next year. Currently, all Siberian oil shipments into Kozmino are delivered by train—but that will soon change. Phase one of the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean Pipeline (espo) was also completed during December. Phase two will soon connect the Siberian fields directly to the new port. When phase two is finished in 2014, total exports could jump from the current rate of 250,000 barrels per day to over 1 million. Kozmino will transform into one of the largest oil centers in the world—capable of handling 14 percent of total Russian oil exports. It will be one of the most strategic geopolitical assets in Russia’s arsenal.

Russia pumped more than 10 million barrels of oil per day during November. With Saudi Arabian production falling, Russia is now the world’s largest oil exporter. Toss in Russia’s natural gas exports, and Russia is the biggest energy superpower in the world, by far. That does not even count Russia’s massive uranium resources and nuclear expertise.

But here is why the new port in Kozmino could radically affect the future of both Asia and Europe. For over a century, Russia’s entire energy infrastructure has focused mainly on supplying Europe. That has now changed forever! The first and now-complete phase of the espo pipeline, which connects Russia’s Siberian oil fields to within just a few kilometers of China, is already destabilizing global oil dynamics and shifting them in Russia’s direction. “espo is what political strategists might call a ‘game-changer,’” writes the Telegraph. “It means that Russia will be able to send its oil either east or west—so it can drive a harder bargain when selling crude to Europe” (emphasis mine throughout).

Previously, when Russia has had pricing disputes with Europe, Moscow had to play the embargo card with an obvious bluff. It had no other alternative outlet for its oil. Without the Europeans, its oil would sit in Samotlor and Tyanskoye, costing money instead of making it. But now Moscow can turn off the tap to Europe and still pump in the profits by opening the pipe wide to its energy-hungry Asian partners.

But Russia’s stranglehold on Europe is about to get even tighter—much tighter. By 2012, the espo pipeline will be twinned with a pipeline for natural gas exports so Russian gas supplies can also flow east instead of west if necessary. This development is truly scary to Europeans. Moscow has already demonstrated that it isn’t afraid to turn off Europe’s energy supplies when it feels it needs to. In the middle of winter 2006, Russia shut off gas supplies to Germany, and several other countries, in order to punish Ukraine. Since then, it has repeatedly used the same method to strong-arm its former Eastern European satellites back into accepting Russian dominance.

The message is clear: Russian oil and gas supplies are a weapon to be used—or not used—to freeze opponents into submission. Europe, in a tenuous relationship with Russia to begin with, desperately needs to secure another source of energy. Only one other region in the world can supply the energy to warm and lubricate modern Europe’s homes and industries: the Middle East. Countries like Germany, which imports 90 percent of its oil, are now much more dependent on one of the most volatile regions of the world for power supplies.

It is inevitable that Berlin will seek to expand its ties with oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council members: the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and especially Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest petroleum producer. Europe has no choice but to become much more intimately involved with the affairs of the Middle East—a region from which 40 percent of its oil is currently derived.

It is therefore no surprise that Germany, the most dominant nation in Europe, has made sure it has troops on the ground surrounding this Middle Eastern “golden triangle” of energy production (Gulf Cooperation Council members plus Iran and Iraq). On the seas, the European Union’s naval presence is growing too. The European anti-piracy task force operates in both the Gulf of Oman and the Gulf of Aden. Forty percent of the world’s ocean-borne oil is shipped through the Gulf of Oman.

Europe is critically dependent on imported oil. And Germany knows it must have a strong presence in the world’s most oil-rich region if it is to secure its flow and the country’s future. The Bible predicts that a major military clash will soon occur in the Middle East—specifically between a European power, led by Germany, and radical Islam, led by Iran.

Daniel 11:40-45 indicate that Iran will continue to push at this European power until it finally responds in “whirlwind,” blitzkrieg-type fashion. As we have explained for almost 20 years—and has been borne out repeatedly in real-world events—the “king of the south” spoken of in these verses is radical Islam under the leadership of Iran. And as Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written, a big part of Iran’s push against Europe will involve oil.

The Middle East is a powder keg that could explode at any time. Syria dominates Lebanon and is stirring up trouble there. Iran is about to create a nuclear weapon and has said it wants to wipe Israel off the map. It is test firing missiles that can strike European capitals. Israel knows that the window to prevent Iran from getting the bomb is closing. Hamas is preparing to violently take East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital. Israel is about to release 1,000 terrorists back onto the streets in return for one captured Israeli soldier.

And to top it off, the world is in the midst of its worst depression since the 1930s. Oil prices remain above $70 per barrel, and the International Energy Agency has indicated that world oil production will now peak in 2020—10 years sooner than prior estimates. Some analysts think the world has already reached peak oil production.

In this climate of global instability, Russia’s recent moves on the world’s oil stage will be amplified in dramatic fashion. By unlocking Siberia’s energy reserves, Russia is simultaneously binding Asia together and lighting a fire under Europe. Watch for the development of an Asian alliance between Russia, China and Japan. And watch for Europe’s next moves toward the Middle East.

Source: http://www.thetrumpet.com/?q=6872.5382.0.

Russia Cashes In on Anxiety Over Supply of Middle East Oil

Whatever the eventual outcome of the Arab world’s social upheaval, there is a clear economic winner so far: Vladimir V. Putin. Russia, which pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia, is reaping a windfall from the steep rise in global energy prices resulting from instability in oil regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Riding the high oil prices, the Russian ruble has risen faster against the dollar this year than any other currency, which is helpful because it will curb consumer inflation during an election year.

Russian stocks are buoyant, too: the Micex index closed last week at 1,781, up nearly 6 percent since the beginning of the year. (Monday was a holiday in Russia.) But the Russians could not step in to offset any potential big drop in global production, because Russia does not have any oil wells standing idle that would allow it to increase production. Right now Russia is pumping oil at its top capacity.

But at last week’s closing of $114, the price of each of those barrels of Ural crude, the country’s main export blend, has risen 24 percent since the beginning of the year. Last week, the prime minister, Mr. Putin, sat down for a meeting with Russia’s finance minister, Aleksei L. Kudrin, which was nationally televised on state news channels for the public’s enlightenment as the two discussed, just short of gloating, the benefits to Russia of a global oil panic. “Mr. Kudrin, budget revenues have become considerable,” Mr. Putin said matter-of-factly.

Mr. Kudrin agreed, noting that if prices hold Russia will be able to resume contributions to its sovereign wealth funds for the first time since the summer of 2008, when the global recession began. One of those sovereign investment vehicles, the Reserve Fund, could reach $50 billion by the end of the year, Mr. Kudrin reported. Just a few months ago Russian officials planning the 2011 budget had anticipated the fund would be depleted. “Good,” Mr. Putin responded to Mr. Kudrin’s account, nodding with satisfaction.

Russia, of course, does not have to look back farther than 2008 to see that a spike in the price of oil can be just that — followed by a dizzying drop. But for now, Russian energy is in favor. Russia’s perceived stability was a reason the French energy giant Total cited last week in agreeing to buy about 12 percent of an independent natural gas producer in Russia, Novatek, and join a liquefied natural gas project in the Russian Arctic. “The upheavals taking place in a number of the oil- and gas-producing countries now send a signal to investors to come to Russia,” Total’s chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, said in a meeting with President Dmitri A. Medvedev announcing the deal.

Mr. Margerie said his company was committing about $4 billion to the venture. “Russia offers a much safer environment for investment,” he said. Oil experts say that because global production capacity for oil is still far larger than world demand, the run-up in prices is being fueled by fear more than by reality. The concern is that the violence in Libya could spread to other member states of the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which are primarily Arab nations.

Russia is not only outside OPEC, and thus free from the cartel’s production restraints, but also, with its formidable secret police apparatus and a population bulge among the elderly rather than the young, is seen as less vulnerable to an outbreak of social unrest. Russia has long jockeyed against Saudi Arabia, a member of OPEC, to be the world’s top oil-producing nation. Although the Saudis have more production capacity and vastly more reserves, Russia is pumping more oil. And if oil and natural gas are considered together, Russia is the largest energy-exporting nation.

Which country is in first place for oil at any given moment depends on how the Saudis wield their swing production capacity, the cushion of unused wells and pipelines the Saudis can turn on to tamp down global prices. As the biggest OPEC member, Saudi Arabia is the cartel’s enforcer and enabler, with the power to influence global prices or to moderate global disruptions by how much of its production capacity it chooses to put to work. If the Saudis open the valves during periods of instability, Russia falls into second place as a producer — but still makes a healthy profit off higher prices.

Russia has little incentive to invest in spare capacity — in part because being outside the OPEC cartel gives it less direct ability to influence prices through the ebb and flow of production. If anything, a large idle capacity by Russia would work against its financial interests — by acting as market insurance, and thus holding prices down — during periods of instability in the Middle East. Russian officials also say that spare capacity is too hard to maintain in their far northern country. Most of its current production comes from wells in Siberia that would freeze solid in the permafrost if not kept running. And the Russians will probably argue the new fields they plan to open in Arctic waters will be so expensive to drill that it would be unwise to later shut them down.

“They are producing flat-out on a permanent basis,” Didier Houssin, the director of energy markets and security at the International Energy Agency in Paris, said via telephone. In the longer term for Russia, policies that encourage or discourage oil field investment are the bigger determinant of how much oil the country can provide to global markets. The energy agency forecasts that Russian energy output will remain about stable for five years, but will require increasing investments as the main oil provinces in western Siberia, having peaked years ago, continue to decline.

In this respect, Middle East instability could bring longer-term benefits to Moscow than the current oil price spike, if it redirects even more of the Western oil industry’s investment to Siberia and the Russian Arctic shelf. The British oil giant BP cited Russia’s relative stability compared with OPEC regions, when BP in January announced a $7.8 billion deal to invest in the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft and jointly search for oil in the Arctic. Later that month, Exxon Mobil, the biggest American oil company, signed a deal with Rosneft to explore offshore in the Black Sea.

Unrest in North Africa is also strengthening Russia’s bargaining position with Europe on natural gas exports and pipeline politics — although Russian officials have used delicate phrasing to make this point. Aleksei B. Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, in a visit to European capitals late last month, suggested that Europeans reconsider their opposition to new Russian pipeline proposals, in light of the “external situation” in North Africa, a region that competes with Russia to export pipeline gas to Europe.

Russia is building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, called Nord Stream, and has proposed another similar pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria. It says these pipes will reduce the risk of traveling overland through central European countries that are unfriendly to Russia, but some European governments have balked at the high cost and political subtexts of these projects. When Mr. Putin visited Brussels last month, he had a new argument for these pipes, which he has championed for years. “I am confident that the real long-term interests of the European economy lie with our resources,” he said at a news conference. “Nothing matters more than stability.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/business/global/08oil.html


Related news:

BP, Rosneft Deal Draws Criticism

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BP PLC has hailed its $16 billion share swap with state-owned Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft as a ground-breaking maneuver in the oil industry, but the deal already has drawn criticism in Washington over its potential implications for U.S. national security. The deal makes Rosneft the single largest BP shareholder. Under the tie-up, announced Friday, the two companies will jointly explore for oil and gas in the Russian Arctic, one of the world's last remaining unexplored hydrocarbon basins. Rosneft will be issued new BP shares equivalent to a 5% stake, valued at $7.8 billion, while BP will receive a 9.5% stake in Rosneft, in addition to the 1.3% it already holds. BP CEO Bob Dudley, left, and Rosneft president Eduard Khudainatov after signing an agreement to form a global and arctic strategic alliance at BP headquarters in London Friday.

BP described it as the first cross-shareholding between a state-owned national oil company and a western oil major. Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, called it "a new template for how business can be done in our industry." The deal is a bold move for a company that just a few months ago was fighting for its very survival. BP's shares are still nearly 25% below where they were when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up last April in the Gulf of Mexico, setting off one of the worst offshore oil spills in U.S. history. The company estimates spill-related costs at around $40 billion. The deal entrenches BP's position in Russia, at a time when the Gulf spill has raised doubts about the company's ability to grow in the U.S.

In an interview, Mr. Dudley denied that in the wake of Deepwater Horizon the company was now turning away from America. The U.S. was still a "core heartland for BP," he said, accounting for one quarter of its global oil and gas production and one quarter of its assets. Yet the Rosneft tie-up could end up exacerbating BP's already fraught relations with U.S. authorities. Already, some U.S. politicians have expressed concern about the national security implications of a share swap between a Kremlin-controlled oil firm and a company that in 2009 was the top supplier of petroleum to the U.S. military.

Rep. Edward Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called for the deal to be analyzed by the Committee on Foreign Investment, a branch of the Treasury Department. "BP once stood for British Petroleum," he said. "With this deal, it now stands for Bolshoi Petroleum." Republican Congressman Michael Burgess, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also said the deal "deserves some analysis and scrutiny."

Under the tie-up, BP and Rosneft will jointly explore three license blocks owned by Rosneft in the South Kara Sea, an area covering 125,000 square kilometers. BP said the license area was comparable to the U.K. North Sea —which contains some 60 billion barrels of oil and gas—in terms of its size and potential. The two firms will form a joint operating company two-thirds owned by Rosneft and a third by BP and will spend up to $2 billion in the initial phase on seismic testing and drilling wells.

The deal gives BP access to an area long seen as the final frontier for energy exploration. A 2008 report by the U.S. Geological Survey found that the area north of the Arctic Circle contains just over a fifth of the world's undiscovered, recoverable oil and gas resources. It said the Arctic has an estimated 1,670 trillion cubic feet of gas—nearly two-thirds the proved gas reserves of the entire Middle East—and 90 billion barrels of oil.

The report found that a lot of the gas in the Arctic is in Russian waters, largely in the South Kara Sea and the South Barents Basin—both geological extensions of onshore areas that are rich in gas. Arctic exploration is likely to reinforce Russia's dominance of the global natural gas industry. Mr. Dudley said BP and Rosneft had been discussing teaming up to explore in the Arctic since 2005 but the idea of a share swap was first raised by the Russians in high-level meetings just three months ago. "They were looking for a way to differentiate," he said. "They had a desire to do something not traditional."

BP mulled the idea and ultimately decided it would be "mutually beneficial," he added. All western oil majors were keen to improve their ties with the big national oil companies, or NOCs, which own the lion's share of the world's oil and gas reserves, he said. "Relationships with the NOCs is a trend for the future, and I can't think of a better one than BP-Rosneft," Mr. Dudley said. In London BP shares fell 4.20 pence, or less than 1%, to 499.5 pence Friday. Its American Depositary Receipts rose $1.71, or 3.6%, to $49.25 at 4 p.m. on the New York Stock Exchange.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704511404576085932247348132.html

Russia Moves Against US In Kyrgyzstan, Thailand As World War III Nears

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Early reports circulating in the Kremlin today from the Foreign Military Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (GRU) are showing that Russian forces have successfully engineered government coups against the American “puppet states” of the United States, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand. To the dangerously chaotic situation now existing in Kyrgyzstan we can read as reported by London’s Times Online News Service who are reporting:

“More than 100 people were feared dead tonight after police fought street battles with protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. The opposition claimed that the Government had been driven from power and President Bakiyev had fled the capital. That assessment was contradicted, however, by the US State Department, which said that the Kyrgyz government was still in control.”

To the equally dangerous situation in Thailand we can further read as reported by the LA Times News Services:

“After weeks of demonstrations that saw glitzy shopping malls blocked, blood splattered on the prime minister’s residence and tourism dented, Thailand’s leader on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Bangkok, handing the army broad power to restore order.Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made the move after anti-government protesters broke into the parliament building, leading some lawmakers to make a rooftop escape aboard a Black Hawk helicopter as other parliamentarians scaled compound walls.”

Fueling Russian anger against the Untied States were this past weeks series of terrorist attacks against the Motherland masterminded by CIA-linked al Qaeda terrorist forces that included the catastrophic bombing of Moscow’s subway system leading to the loss of over 40 innocent lives and which President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin vowed to find and “destroy”. Also angering Russia has been US President Obama and NATO’s refusal to stem the devastating Afghan heroin drug trade run by the CIA and which to date Victor Ivanov, head of Russia’s federal drug control agency, has estimated has claimed over 30,000 Russian citizens lives.

[Note: Important to note about Afghanistan’s heroin drug trade was that by early 2001 the Taliban had totally eradicated its production thus depriving the CIA of tens-of-billions of dollars of drug income necessitating the 9/11 “charade” which then allowed the Americans to regain control and re-start this vital component of their vast illicit Global drug empire under the “protection” of US Military Forces.]

According to these reports, Russian Military Forces are attempting by these Great Game “shadow wars” in Kyrgyzstan and Thailand to deny the US and its NATO allies the use of critical airbases [Don Muang Royal Thai Air Force Base: Thailand and Ganci Air Base: Kyrgyzstan] needed for their, the Americans, attempt to seize control of the vast oil and gas deposits in Central Asia, and which both Russia and China have vowed not to allow them to accomplish.

[Note: For the reader to fully understand the enormity of these latest Great Game moves more research and information needs to be acquired than this one report, or any single report for that matter, can do. Suggested reading on this subject includes: “The Great Game”, “The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia” and “The New Great Game. Blood and Oil in Central Asia”.]

Important to note is that the United States and its NATO allies began this latest chapter of The Great Game with their devastating attack upon the former European Nation of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 under then US President William Clinton in order to secure for the West the vast Central Asian pipeline transit routes needed to terminate on the Adriatic Sea. Since the West’s deliberate destruction and breakup of Yugoslavia only the Motherland has been able to counter their moves, that is until 8 weeks ago when the Chinese entered the fray, and as we can read as reported by the Diplomat News Service in their report titled China Enters the ‘Great Game’, and which, in part, says:

“When the leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China gathered in the desert of eastern Turkmenistan in December to inaugurate a new 1,800-kilometre natural gas pipeline running from Central Asia to China, it marked China’s dramatic entrance into a battle previously dominated by Russia and the West over access to the region’s natural resources. It also was a measure of Beijing’s increasingly confident foreign policy, and its growing ties to–and interest in–its neighbours of the former Soviet Union.

‘This project has not only commercial or economic value. It is also political,’ Turkmenistan’s president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, said at the time. ‘China, through its wise and farsighted policy, has become one of the key guarantors of global security.’

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the five ’stans’ of Central Asia became independent countries, China has for the most part taken a back seat to the United States and Russia in this strategic region. In the 1990s, the United States began trying to gain influence largely to secure access for US companies to the oil and gas reserves that were just starting to be discovered, while also, through various democratization and human rights efforts, trying to get the authoritarian governments to liberalize their political systems. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US focus turned to military cooperation as it set up air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The region was a useful gateway into Afghanistan (which borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and was also thought to be susceptible to the same sort of radical Islamism that vexed Afghanistan.

Russia has viewed all of this as an unwelcome intrusion into its backyard, and a threat to its own interests. The Soviet-era oil and gas infrastructure oriented all the export routes for Central Asia’s petroleum resources through Russia, from which Russian state-owned companies profit handsomely. US democracy promotion campaigns look, from Moscow’s vantage point, to be stalking horses for the sort of anti-Russian ‘colour revolutions’ that took place in Georgia and Ukraine. And US military bases in Central Asia compromise Russia’s strategic depth in the region–Russia has its own large military base in Tajikistan and smaller facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

China, meanwhile, has carried out relatively quiet diplomacy in Central Asia, focused on narrow issues like delineating borders between it and the newly independent states, and in gaining cooperation on shutting down networks of dissident Uyghurs, a Turkic people closely related to Central Asians who were using the ’stans’ as rear bases for anti-Beijing activities.

For most of the past 20 years, China’s presence in Central Asia was innocuous enough to allow both the United States and Russia to believe that it benefited them. In US eyes, the primary goal was to loosen the grip that Russia had on these territories for centuries, and China would help in this. In addition, especially after September 11, the US welcomed China’s cooperation in fighting terrorism in Central Asia.

Russia, too, cooperated with China in Central Asia, especially in trying to thwart a US military presence there, in both of their backyards. They formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security group originally billed as a ‘NATO of the East’ and including all of the ’stans’ except Turkmenistan, which in 2005 called for the United States to leave its military bases in Central Asia.”

Interesting to note in these reports is their asserting that Obama upon becoming aware of Russia’s planned assault in Kyrgyzstan and Thailand “begged” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to go to Asia to try to prevent his, Obama’s, Asian allies collapse. UN leader Ban, however, upon his arrival in Kyrgyzstan 4 days ago sided with the Motherland and slammed the United States “puppet” leader President Kurmanbek Bakiyev by openly declaring to the Kyrgyz Parliament, “Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, recent events have been troubling, including the past few days. I repeat: all human rights must be protected, including free speech and freedom of the media.”

UN leader Ban today expressed his “shock” at the violence taking place in Kyrgyzstan, but by all accounts he was instrumental in furthering Russian and China’s interests against those of the United States and their allies.

Important to note about these “puppet” rulers of the US are that they all came to power in what are called the “colour revolutions” engineered by the CIA, and include Kyrgyzstan’s “Tulip Revolution”, Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” and Georgia’s “Rose Revolution”. The “common thread” connecting Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Georgia are their all being major oil and gas pipeline conduits for Central Asia, only one of which, Georgia, is still controlled by the West, but after it’s disastrous 2008 war when it tried to invade Russia will, without a doubt, be the next “domino” in the Great Game to fall against the Western Powers.

Equally important to note is that while just about everyone in the World has full awareness of the potentially catastrophic import of these events, the same cannot be even close to being said about the American people, and who continue to live under one of the strictest propaganda regimes seen since the Axis Powers of World War II and rivaling that of the Soviet Communists of the Cold War.

And no where is this more evident than in the events occurring in the US war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq…where in Afghanistan, US Special Forces Troops after a killing spree targeting women and children tried to cover up their crime and were supported by their military leaders and lapdog press…that is except for one British reporter, Jerome Starkey, who refused to “toe the propaganda line” and exposed the truth; and in Iraq where US Forces savagely massacred 12 innocent civilians…which came to light only because the actual video of this atrocious attack was leaked, and not by the American propaganda media who would never report on it anyway.

So as our World today veers ever closer the abyss of Total Global War, the American people continue to live in denial of what their monstrous war leaders are doing in their name and the consequences they are going to ultimately suffer because of their deliberate ignorance, the cost they will all be paying much sooner than they can ever imagine.

Source: http://www.eutimes.net/2010/04/russia-moves-against-us-in-kyrgyzstan-thailand-as-world-war-iii-near

Moscow’s Military Might

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Russia’s heavy duty spending in the military sector may have caused more than jitters in the Cold War era. Even today, the massive expansion of the Russian defence programme may cause some unease in its neighbourhood. Costing an estimated $650 billion, the plan aims to reinvent rather renew Russia’s somewhat obsolete military infrastructure and hardware by 2020. Entailing nuclear submarines, helicopter carriers and hundreds of warships, fighter jets and helicopters, the defence agenda denotes the significance it is held in by Moscow. Alongside the additions to its military hardware and sophisticated defence systems, financial spending on defence is expected to triple from 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent of the GDP.

Russia’s military modernisation drive may be a natural derivative of its growth as a world power after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The past few years have seen Russia assume a bigger role in the political arena, be it the Middle East or Europe.

No doubt, Russia retains great political weight even today after the breakup of the Soviet Empire but its growing assertiveness may also be the harbinger of a reawakening. More problematic for Moscow is the growing US presence in its backyard particularly noticeable during the 2008 Georgia conflict. Similarly, heavy US military presence in Afghanistan is also a cause of concern. The biggest concern however and one that Moscow has been very vocal about is the US plans to build a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin does not accept the argument given by Washington that this is only to safeguard from possible Iranian missile attacks in the future. There continues to be strong opposition to the plan despite US President Barack Obama’s several attempts to diffuse the issue and the successful renewal of the revised nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia. Political and security experts are of the view that Russia has since some time been indulging in muscle flexing to reiterate its presence in the international arena. Russia’s involvement in talks over the Iranian nuclear programme and its support to the Palestinians affirm the fact.

The fact that Russia is also cutting back on its nuclear arsenal as per the agreement with the US may be a reason for bolstering conventional capability. By streamlining its conventional forces that have already seen the sacking of about 200,000 officers the aim is to develop a far more efficient and advanced military. This is why training and oriented recruitment are being given more weightage in the defence revamping plan.

It is hoped that this will not trigger an arms race in the region already bristling with military heavyweights that tend to react by amassing more weapons.

Source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/editorial/2011/February/editorial_February48.xml&section=editorial&col=

Russia to buy 1,000 helicopters by 2020

First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin

Russia's Defense Ministry announced plans on Thursday to buy 100 ships, over 600 aircraft and 1,000 helicopters under a 2011-2020 arms procurement program. Russia will buy 10 new generation S-500 air defense systems, which will replace the S-400 systems currently entering service with the Russian forces, said First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, who is in charge of arms procurement. Russia plans to purchase more than 100 helicopters this year, including Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters, Mi-28 Night Hunter and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters. Russia's Defense Ministry submitted the 19 trillion ruble ($651 billion) arms procurement spending plan for 2011-2020 to the government in December. Some 80% of the funds will be spent on buying weapons and 10% will be spent on scientific research. The official confirmed earlier reports that Russia will buy two Mistral assault ships from France, while two more of the ships will be built under license in Russia. Russia is planning to build eight strategic nuclear submarines by 2020 and equip them with Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which are expected to be put into service this year. Russia also plans to develop new heavy ballistic missiles to replace Soviet-era SS-18 Satan and SS-20 Saber ICBMs, Popovkin said.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20110224/162739409.html

Russian military to receive 1,300 types of weaponry by 2020

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The Russian Armed Forces will receive over 1,300 types of weaponry in line with a draft arms procurement program until 2020, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

"We will need to set up new or expand the existing production lines to manufacture 220 of the new types of weaponry," Putin told a meeting on the program, which is expected to be adopted by the yearend. More than 20 trillion rubles ($640.7 billion) will be earmarked for weapons procurement, three times more than is allocated in the existing 2007-2015 program, he added. The new program stipulates the upgrade of up to 11 percent of military equipment annually and will allow Russia to increase the share of modern weaponry to 70 percent by 2020. Putin said that 4.7 trillion rubles ($150.7 billion), or almost a quarter of the total budget, would be allocated to the modernization of the Russian Navy. "We now have more money and there are possibilities to expedite the construction [of submarines]," Putin said after visiting the Alexander Nevsky nuclear submarine, which is under construction at the Sevmash shipyard in the town of Severodvinsk in northern Russia. Alexander Nevsky is the second of the Borey class nuclear submarines being built at Sevmash. The Yury Dolgoruky sub has completed sea trials and could be adopted by the Navy in 2011, while the Vladimir Monomakh, and Svyatitel Nikolai (St. Nicholas) are in different stages of completion. Russia is planning to build eight of these subs by 2015 and equip them with Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20101213/161759690.html

Russia confirms plans to supply Syria with Yakhont missiles

Yakhont missile

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Saturday Russia has not dropped its plans to supply Syria with Yakhont missiles. "The contract [on supplies] is in progress," Serdyukov told journalists in Vladivostok, Russia's Far East. Russia earlier announced it would honor a 2007 contract on the delivery of several Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with SS-N-26 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles to Syria, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to stop the deal. The Yakhont missile has a range of 300 kilometers, the capacity to carry a 200-kilogram warhead and the unique ability of being able to cruise several meters above the water surface, making it difficult to detect and intercept. Israeli authorities have expressed a strong concern over the increase of Syrian defensive potential, as well as over a threat of transferring weapons to Lebanese or Palestinian radicals. Washington also said the deal could destabilize the region.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20110226/162769545.html

WikiLeaks: NATO unimpressed by Russia's military

NATO was not impressed by Russia's military performance after two large maneuvers in 2009 because its forces relied on aging equipment, lacked transport and suffered from manpower shortages, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable. Russia's armed forces would be able to respond only to a small-to-mid-sized local conflict in the country's western regions, according to a cable from the U.S. mission to NATO released Monday on the WikiLeaks secret-spilling site. The maneuvers demonstrated they would not be able to fight in two small conflicts simultaneously or to mount larger-scale operations, the U.S. cable said, citing a report by NATO's military staff. The documents also claimed that Russia's army and air force could not cooperate properly and lacked all-weather capability.

The NATO report followed two large maneuvers, codenamed Ladoga and Zapad, in Russia's western regions during 2009. They were intended to test the Russian military after its lightning 2008 victory over Georgia. The operation, in which Georgia's U.S.-trained army was demolished within a week after it tried to invade the breakaway province of South Ossetia, set off alarm bells in NATO nations bordering Russia. At the time, eastern European diplomats expressed extreme concern over the Russian army's lightning response to a surprise attack by Georgian forces on the province's capital. The NATO report appeared to be an effort to reassure its allies in eastern Europe.

"The exercises (in 199) demonstrated that Russia has limited capability for joint operations with air forces, continues to rely on aging and obsolete equipment, lacks all-weather capability and strategic transportation means, ... has an officer corps lacking flexibility, and has a manpower shortage," the cable said. The document was signed off by U.S. ambassador Ivo Daalder. The report claimed the Russian military still appeared prepared to use short-range battlefied nuclear weapons even in small conflicts. Russia is believed to have over 1,000 tactical nuclear warheads in its arsenal. These are not banned under international treaties. NATO has condemned the release of the secret diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. It regularly refuses to comment on their veracity.

Relations between NATO and Moscow hit a post-Cold War low after the Russo-Georgian war. But they have improved significantly since President Barack Obama announced a "reset" of U.S.-Russia ties in 2009. Today, the two sides cooperate closely in the war in Afghanistan, where Russia provides a vital overland supply link for NATO forces. The alliance and Moscow also work closely on counter-piracy and anti-terrorist operations, and the two sides are considering setting up a joint anti-missile shield. The Russian military is in the process of reforming and cutting its military strength. In 2009, its defense budget of about $50 billion was about one-twentieth of total defense spending by NATO's 28 nations.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5js-wY1va7RJ5YIW5jDrFD4fuLzRg?docId=66ef4acc97cc446dbf9deb8e8f3ea4c9

Top Gun: Russia smashes weapon export record

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Military officials reported on Thursday that Russian armament industries exported more than US$10 billion dollars of weapons last year, surpassing original estimates. "We set a new record,” Mikhail Dmitriyev, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Co-operation (FSVTS) told Kommersant in an interview. “The target level was set at $9.5 billion. We exceeded $10 billion, so our target level has been surpassed. We have another good report for the Russian president."

The head of FSVTS added that 2010 was the first year when "the planned task was fulfilled without excessive effort." Meanwhile, the order portfolio of the Russian defense industry increased substantially to $48 billion, he said, while mentioning the main Russian state armament exporter, Rosoboronexport.

"Certainly, Rosoboronexport is an indisputable and legitimate arms-exporting leader, but other companies which involve military-technical co-operation [suppliers of spare parts and maintenance, for example] posted…steady 15 per cent from overall trade turnover in military-technical co-operation," Dmitriyev noted. Asked if Russia’s defense industry is qualified to meet the growing needs of foreign customers, he responded positively, while admitting to some present limitations.

“Generally speaking, I'm sure we can [meet the demands of foreign clients], but to some extent and volume,” Dmitriyev said. “The fact that we keep increasing the volume, makes this issue extremely relevant, because it simultaneously increases… state defense orders. And now there are large orders from Russia’s armed forces, which of course take precedence.”

The director of FSVTS went on to explain that as state defense orders continue to increase, the production capacity is naturally limited or in some cases even reduced. Now Russia is faced with the “need to increase production capacity” in order to meet domestic and foreign demand for Russian armaments. Russia lists ten countries – in the Asia-Pacific region, North Africa, Middle East and Latin America – that account for the bulk of its military-trade co-operation. Meanwhile, the biggest consumer of Russian military hardware by far is India.

Saying that Russia “appreciates this strategic partnership,” Dmitriyev mentioned prospects for further co-operation with India on a variety of projects, including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, fifth-generation fighter jet, and the creation of a military transport plane. Asked why there have not been any recent contracts with China, Dmitriyev rejected the suggestion, saying that co-operation with Beijing continues, although at a decreased rate due to China’s newfound prowess at producing its own military goods.

“Co-operation continues to develop, but its rate has slowed,” he said. “And there are objective reasons for this. China's military industry has gained momentum and…is now able to produce many products that were previously purchased in Russia. Now they make [military weapons] themselves. Now the question is mainly about technology cooperation, but here we find also common ground.”

Dmitriyev then mentioned the problem of protecting Russian intellectual property – a question that goes back to the Soviet days when Russia freely provided the Chinese side with an array of military products. But the problem involves not only China, but former members of the Warsaw Pact.

“There are presently talks with the Slovaks, Czechs, Poles and Bulgarians,” Dmitriyev noted, “on the conclusion of agreements” over military copyright licenses. Kommersant then confronted the head of FSVTS over the “new trend” of military imports to Russia, while alluding to French warships and Israeli drones. In December, Russia announced its decision to purchase at least two French-made Mistral-class amphibious warships. The multimillion-dollar sale marked the first time in modern history that Russia has made such a major military acquisition abroad.

"The…import of military equipment…is counterproductive,” Dmitriyev said. “The Ministry of Defense at this stage has raised the question of imports of arms and military equipment, especially as samples, and this suggests there are serious problems in our defense industry, which must be addressed without delay.”

But with Russian military exports at record highs, there should be no lack of funds to support the research and development of homegrown military hardware

Source: http://rt.com/politics/russia-weapon-exports-record

In This Tiny Land, Some Wish They Were Back in the U.S.S.R.
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Transnistria Has Rubles, a Supreme Soviet; 'We Will Always Be With Russia'

Past a checkpoint manned by fur-hatted Russian soldiers with assault rifles and across a bridge spanning the Dniester River, sprawls a throwback to the days of the Cold War. Welcome to the self-proclaimed Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, a banana-shaped slice of the former Soviet Union struggling for its independence on the new front line between East and West. No country in the world recognizes Transnistria—the territory's informal English name—as a sovereign state. But that hasn't stopped authorities in this breakaway part of Moldova from adopting the trappings of Soviet-style nationhood.

Tiny Transnistria has its own currency, the ruble; its own legislature, the Supreme Soviet; an army and its own Lenin look-alike president, Igor Smirnov, a 69-year-old one-time Communist Party apparatchik who has ruled for two decades. This land with roughly 500,000 inhabitants that runs along Moldova's border with Ukraine "is the Russian empire's frontier," Mr. Smirnov told reporters on the eve of Independence Day celebrations here last year. "We have Slavic roots. We will always be with Russia."

On Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is to visit the Moldovan capital Chisinau, after a stop in Moscow earlier in the week. Among the items on his agenda: pushing for a settlement of the Transnistrian issue that will keep the territory within Moldova's borders. For years, the frozen conflict over Transnistria's status languished, in a largely forgotten and impoverished corner of the continent. But as the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization have rolled eastward, it is back in the spotlight.

European leaders have stepped up efforts to resolve the Transnistrian question as Moldova's new, pro-Western government has moved to integrate the country more closely with the EU. Finding a solution won't be easy. The standoff between authorities in Chisinau and Tiraspol has been largely peaceful, with no major violence since 1992, yet rapprochement has proved elusive, for reasons of geopolitics as well as deep differences in local identities.

"The two sides are too far apart. We see no possibility for talks on status," says Vladimir Yastrebchak, Transnistria's foreign minister. "The people who live here are the only ones who can decide their future."

Residents of Transnistria celebrate their Russian and Soviet heritage. Transnistria's official crest displays the hammer and sickle, red star and sheaves of wheat that once adorned emblems of the U.S.S.R. Statues of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin dot public squares. Cyrillic remains the standard alphabet. Rattle-trap Lada sedans and ZiL trucks turned out by the Soviet Union's socialist manufacturing machine still ply streets here, mixing with the Audis and Mercedes of the region's new elite. Billboards feature photos of a smiling Mr. Smirnov meeting with Russian leaders.

"Our strength comes from our ties with Russia," proclaims a giant sign near a downtown square named for a Russian general, Alexander Suvorov, who helped drive Turkish forces from Moldova, known as Bessarabia at the time, in the 18th century.

Despite Transnistria's devotion to Russia, Moscow remains ambivalent. Russia has declined to recognize Transnistrian sovereignty. But it helps keep the territory afloat financially. And it hasn't withdrawn troops—remnants of the old Soviet Fourteenth Army—stationed here. The soldiers guard a stockpile of outdated munitions left behind when the Soviet Union collapsed. Along with a detachment of peacekeepers, they also serve to prop up Mr. Smirnov's government, and give Moscow a say in Moldova's future.

Russia says its soldiers are necessary to protect the people of Transnistria, and Moscow supports a negotiated solution that would guarantee substantial autonomy for the region. Transnistrians, who are predominantly of Russian and Ukrainian descent, take cultural cues from the East, in contrast with people in the rest of Moldova, most of whom have ethnic and linguistic ties to neighboring, non-Slavic Romania.

"There used to be empty fields with some tribes" before Russians arrived along the Dniester River, says Dmitriy Soin, a member of the Supreme Soviet. "When the Russians came, they brought civilization."

"Here, there is a history of Russian rule," says Vecheslav Semenov, 73, a retiree living in Tiraspol. "People's mentalities are different." Mr. Semenov was a model Soviet man. Born along the Volga River in the Russian heartland, he was educated in Leningrad before being sent to work in an electronics factory in Siberia, and then at one in Chisinau. After the Soviet Union's collapse and calls by Moldovan nationalists for the expulsion of Russians, he moved to Tiraspol. "There were no problems before perestroika and Gorbachev," Mr. Semenov says.

Last week, when Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union's last leader, was awarded Russia's highest honor, Mr. Semenov says he turned off his television in disgust. "He's guilty of destroying the U.S.S.R. A lot of people feel this way, those of us who were abandoned here," he says.

It isn't just the old who feel a kinship with Russia. "You need to live here to be a Transnistrian. It's different if you aren't from here," says Anya Edinak, 19, who is studying math and physics at a university in Tiraspol. But many young people also say they don't see much of a future here. Viktor Zachiukovsky, 19, is about to start two years of compulsory military service. Once he is discharged, he plans to go to Ukraine, where he has relatives, to seek work.

"There are big economic problems here," he says. "It's hard to find a job, and even if you do, you can't earn enough money."

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat says he thinks the solution to the conflict lies in Chisinau's warming relations with the EU. If Moldova becomes more prosperous and Moldovans can travel more easily to the EU, it will make Moldovan citizenship more attractive to Transnistrians. Mr. Smirnov's rivals in Transnistria are also focused on trying to modernize the territory. But it's hard to find anyone willing to say there is any alternative to full independence.

"We have a Russian soul," says Oleg Horjan, a Communist Party member of the Supreme Soviet who opposes Mr. Smirnov. The best long-term solution, he argues, would be to "recreate the unified structure of states and nations that was the U.S.S.R."

He adds: "The borders that have been drawn now, it's like vivisection. We should be together again."

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703662804576188522910176218.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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