Medvedev inspects missile base on first presidential trip - May, 2008

Medvedev inspects missile base on first presidential trip

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) listens to a report as he visits cosmodrome Plesetsk, which is nestled among the taiga forests of Russia's north, October 12, 2008. Medvedev oversaw the test firing of an intercontinental truck-mounted Topol missile on Sunday and vowed to commission new generation weapons for Russia's armed forces. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

May, 2008

On his first visit as commander-in-chief of Russia's armed forces, President Dmitry Medvedev has visited the Ivanovo region to examine the base of a regiment equipped with the Topol-M mobile missile system. Speaking during the trip, Medvedev said Russia must be prepared to invest in its missile defences. ”It’s obvious that our task for the near future, for the next few years, is to have the strategic missile troops receive all the necessary funding in order to correspond to the modern level of threat, in the situation that really exists on the planet today. For different reasons, both objective and subjective, development was extremely slow in the 1990s, but over the recent years some progress has become apparent and our task for today is not to slow down,” Medvedev said. The Topol-M missile near the town of Teikovo in central Russia is one of the most recent inter-continental ballistic missiles produced by the country's military. Medvedev, who is on his first trip across Russia since his inauguration, is also expected to visit the city of Kostroma. Ivan Konovalov from the Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technology says the Topol-M intercontinental missiles are the basis of Russia's nuclear shield.


In other news:

Russia to build up naval presence in world's oceans in 2008

Russia's Northern Fleet will dispatch ships and submarines on tours of duty to various regions of the world's oceans in 2008, the fleet's commander said on Tuesday. "There will be tours of duty this year, involving surface ships, submarines and aircraft," Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov said. "We will visit the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and the Mediterranean." Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last year that Russia's Navy had resumed and would build up its continual presence in different regions of the world's oceans. A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic. The flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 and participated in maneuvers in the Atlantic from January 28 to February 2. Over 40 aircraft from Russia's Air Force, including Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-95MS Bears, Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers, A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft participated in the drills jointly with the navy. Maksimov also said that the Northern Fleet would be fully manned with professional seamen under contracts by 2009. "At present, only the submarines are completely manned with contract servicemen, while only 45% of crew members on surface ships are contract seamen," the admiral said. "We will resolve this situation by 2009."


New leaders unlikely to ease US-Russian tensions

Russia's new president has promised the kind of democratic change that Washington advocated during predecessor Vladimir Putin's tenure. At the same time, all the candidates to succeed President Bush have promised a break from a foreign policy that Moscow has bitterly criticized. Still, there is scant optimism that the changes in leadership in Moscow and Washington will shift the downward momentum in relations between the two nuclear powers. Few Russian analysts in Washington believe that Dmitry Medvedev, the new Russian president hand-picked by Putin, will have the power to boost democratic rights, as he has promised. And while all three U.S. candidates pledge to work more cooperatively with other nations than Bush has, campaign rhetoric suggests none would take a more conciliatory approach to Russia after they move into the White House in January.

"All three candidates have a jaundiced view of Russia's recent performance in terms of political freedoms, freedom of the press and civil rights," said Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "It is likely that the next administration will be more critical." Skepticism in Washington follows from the belief that Putin, whom Medvedev appointed prime minister a day after his May 7 inauguration, will bring most of the power of his old post to his new one. "Putin is not going to be a potted plant," David Kramer, assistant U.S. secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said in an interview. "He has sent signals that he is going to be active and influential."

Randy Schoeneman, an adviser to Republican candidate John McCain, also has doubts that Medvedev will control Russia's course. "Senator McCain hopes to see a number of changes in Russian policy, but given what appears to be the power relationship between Medvedev and Putin, it's unclear whether Medvedev, even if he wants to change anything, will have any ability," Schoeneman said. The Bush-Putin relationship began warmly. After their first meeting in June 2001, Bush famously commented that he looked into Putin's eyes and "was able to get a sense of his soul." Putin's support for the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks also boosted ties. But those relations deteriorated with U.S. criticism that Russia was becoming more autocratic; Russian opposition to the Iraq war; sharp bilateral differences on U.S. missile defense plans in Europe; the independence of Kosovo; and separatist movements in Georgia.

In a rare diplomatic breakthrough in recent relations, the Bush administration signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia this month. But that deal is facing stiff opposition from lawmakers, who argue that Russia is not doing enough to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that now is not the time for cooperation with Putin's Russia. The anti-Russian — or anti-Putin — mood is also appearing in the presidential campaign. Of the three candidates, McCain has been the most outspoken critic. He has advocated expelling Russia from the Group of Eight industrial nations and made Putin the butt of a punch line. During a campaign speech in October, he joked that like Bush, he has looked into Putin's eyes. "I saw three things: a K and a G and a B." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose prospects for beating Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination are dwindling, also has played on Bush's line and Putin's earlier career in the Soviet intelligence service. "I could have told (Bush) he was a KGB agent; by definition he doesn't have a soul," she said in January. (That brought a rebuke from Putin, who said, "At a minimum, a head of state should have a head.")

Obama has been more cautious. Michael McFaul, a Stanford University political science professor who is advising Obama, said Obama does not believe in isolating Russia and would cultivate cooperation, especially on reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles. But he said Obama will not shy from criticism. "President Bush seems to believe that if he treats Putin as a friend and turns the other way when it comes to these other issues, that will lead to a more cooperative relationship with Russia," McFaul said. "The historical evidence is not there to support that strategy." Even if the next U.S. president were looking to improve relations, the new administration may find it hard to change course on issues that have kept tensions simmering. McCain is an ardent supporter of Bush administration plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland to defend against missiles targeting the West. While the two Democrats have expressed skepticism about costs of the proposed project, they may be bound by agreements the administration is trying to lock up with the two NATO allies.

Like Bush, all three candidates have supported the former Soviet republic Georgia's hopes for joining NATO, which Russia opposes. Two years ago, McCain and Clinton both nominated Georgia's pro-Western President Mikhail Saakashvili, an ardent antagonist of Moscow, for the Nobel Peace Prize. Tensions over Georgia have increased in recent weeks as Russia moved toward recognizing two breakaway territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that have sought independence since separatist wars in the 1990s. Putin signaled that his move to step up ties with the territories was related to Western recognition of the Balkan province Kosovo's independence from Serbia over Russian objections.


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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.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.