NATO is main obstacle in US-Russia relations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWD-dV14czo&feature=channel_page
President Dmitri A. Medvedev said Tuesday that Russia would begin a “large-scale rearming” in 2011 in response to what he described as continuing threats to the country’s security. In a speech before generals in Moscow, Mr. Medvedev cited encroachment by NATO as a primary reason for bolstering the armed and nuclear forces. Mr. Medvedev did not offer specifics on how much the budget would grow for the military, whose capabilities deteriorated significantly after the fall of Soviet Union. Russia has increased military spending sharply in recent years, but with the financial crisis and the drop in the price of oil, the country’s finances are under pressure, suggesting that it will be hard to lift these expenditures further. Even so, Mr. Medvedev’s timing was notable. He is expected to hold his first meeting with President Obama in early April in London on the sidelines of the summit gathering of the Group of 20, which comprises industrialized and developing countries and the European Union. He has said recently that he is looking forward to the meeting, and both he and Russia’s paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, have expressed measured optimism about improving relations with the United States under the new administration.
The Obama administration played down the significance of Mr. Medvedev’s remarks, with the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, saying they were “largely for domestic consumption.” He added that “NATO and the United States have worked and will continue to work with Russia on issues of mutual concern, specifically in areas like terrorism and proliferation.” Nevertheless, Mr. Medvedev’s comments on Tuesday indicated that the Kremlin did not want the United States and its NATO allies to presume that Russia was coming to the table in London from a position of weakness. "An analysis of the military and political situation in the world shows that there are a range of regions where there remains serious potential for conflicts,” Mr. Medvedev said. “Threats remain that can bring about local crises and international terrorism. NATO is not halting its efforts to widen its military infrastructure near the borders of our country. All of this demands a quality modernization of our armed forces.” Mr. Medvedev emphasized that Russia would not be deterred in this plan by the financial crisis.
The announcement underscored how the Kremlin has offered the new administration a calculated mix of positive pronouncements about relations and policies that could be described as unfriendly. The day after Mr. Obama won the election in November, Mr. Medvedev declared that Russia would deploy missiles on its western border aimed at Europe if the United States proceeded with an antimissile system proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic by the Bush administration. Mr. Medvedev later seemed to soften the threat, though he did not withdraw it. Last month, apparently at the urging of the Kremlin, the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia announced that it would close an important American air base that is used to assist NATO forces in Afghanistan. But the Kremlin said it would allow NATO to transport non-lethal supplies by railroad across Russian soil to Afghanistan. And last week Mr. Medvedev said, “We have every possibility of opening a new page” in relations when he meets with Mr. Obama. Mr. Medvedev’s announcement on Tuesday comes as the Kremlin has already begun an effort to overhaul the operations of the armed forces, which are still run largely according to Soviet-style dictates. While Russia’s far larger military easily triumphed over Georgia’s in the conflict in August, the fighting exposed what many experts described as flaws in training, weapons and equipment.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Moscow will begin a comprehensive military rearmament from 2011.
Mr Medvedev said the primary task would be to "increase the combat readiness of [Russia's] forces, first of all our strategic nuclear forces". Explaining the move, he cited concerns over Nato expansion near Russia's borders and regional conflicts. Last year, the Kremlin set out plans to increase spending on Russia's armed forces over the next two years. Russia will spend nearly $140bn (£94.5bn) on buying arms up until 2011. Higher oil revenues in recent years have allowed the Kremlin to increase the military budget, analysts say. But prices have averaged $40 a barrel in 2009 compared with $100 last year.
In his first address to a defence ministry meeting in his capacity as supreme commander, Mr Medvedev said considerable sums are being channelled towards developing and purchasing modern military equipment. "Despite the financial problems we have to cope with today, the size of these sums has remained virtually the same as planned."Analysts say the brief war in Georgia exposed problems with outdated equipment and practices within Russia's armed forces and led to calls for military modernisation. President Medvedev's remarks also appear significant for what they say about the diplomatic game between Moscow and the new administration in the United States, says the BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow. Both sides are looking for a solution to issues - such as US missile defence plans in Europe - which bitterly divided the Kremlin and the White House during the Bush administration. Neither, though, seems willing simply to abandon previously-held positions, our correspondent adds. The Russian Security Council is currently developing a new military doctrine which is expected to reflect current and forthcoming international developments, including any changes Nato may set out this year, missile defence deployments and WMD proliferation. "The Security Council will approve Russia's national security strategy until 2020 in the near future," President Medvedev said.
Despite Economic Crisis, Medvedev Pledges Military Buildup
It seems that the long-awaited thaw that many observers had expected from an Obama-Medvedev partnership just got doused with a cold glass of reality. Citing US and NATO military expansion up to its borders, President Dmitry Medvedev announced at a meeting with defense ministry officials on Tuesday that Russia must quickly enact a “large-scale rearmament.” “Attempts to expand the military infrastructure of NATO near the borders of our country are continuing,” Medvedev told an annual meeting with the Defense Ministry’s top commanders. “A modern military well trained and well equipped with modern weapons… is a guarantee of our protection from any potential threat or attempts to pressure our country. The transition of all military units to a level of combat readiness is number one on the agenda.” The Russian president’s tough words show that the Kremlin is taking no chances with its security, despite Washington’s recent declarations of friendship and renewed trust. Before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ceremoniously pressed the “reset” button together with her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, Clinton told a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that Washington wanted “a fresh start” in relations with Moscow.
“We… must find ways to manage our differences with Russia where they persist, and stand firm where our principles or our vital interests are at stake,” Clinton remarked. It was probably the “vital interests” part of Clinton’s speech that rang some alarm bells in Moscow. Indeed, ‘standing firm on vital interests’ may be loosely interpreted to mean just about anything, including the spread of democracy, acquiring new pools of non-renewable resources and seizing new slabs of geopolitical real estate in Central Asia. Other equally important issues, for example, the possible inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine into the Cold War military organization, continues to rankle the Kremlin. The Russian president hinted at precisely such a possible future scenario when he said that the US and NATO are beefing up their forces not simply over ideological considerations, as was the case during the Cold War, but in a strategic maneuvering for diminishing natural resources, namely oil and gas, which Russia has in tremendous amounts. Tiberio Graziano, editor of Eurasia magazine on geopolitical studies, echoed these sentiments in a recent interview with RT. Asked about the recent gas crisis between Kiev and Moscow, Graziano put the blame on NATO and EU expansion.
“The origin of the gas dispute… is actually a reflection of NATO enlargement in Eastern Europe as well as EU expansion into Eastern European countries,” Graziano said. “This kind of enlargement began in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. From that moment the United States had decided to manage the whole planet. They chose Western Europe as a starting point to move in the direction of Russia and Central Asia, as it’s known that Central Asia has huge resources of gas and oil.”
Presently, Moscow continues to watch developments in Eastern Europe, specifically in Poland and the Czech Republic where Washington, on the pretense of an Iranian missile threat, plans to install components of its missile defense system. Although US President Barack Obama has sent signals to Moscow that he is prepared to abandon the missile brainchild of the Bush administration, any sort of a deal will probably require that Moscow exert some influence on Tehran, which is suspected of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. But it is not simply western expansion that prompts Russia to begin a military rearmament, which is to start in 2011. In an apparent reference to Russia’s last year’s five-day war with Georgia, which was sparked after Tbilisi launched a morning assault that killed hundreds of South Ossetian residents and 12 Russian peacekeepers, Medvedev made reference to “local crises” that also threaten Russia’s peace and prosperity. “An analysis of the military-political situation… has shown that a serious conflict potential remains in a number of regions; threats are persisting that cause both local conflicts and international terrorism,” the president said. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told RIA Novosti that «70 percent of its weaponry would be modern by 2020.» Next month, the dialogue will continue as Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama meet for the first time in London for the G20 summit.
In related news:
Russia has started mooring trials of the first Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarine, which will be equipped with Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles. The Yury Dolgoruky submarine, built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia, was taken out of dry dock in April 2007. The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes. Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015.
Russia's nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet comprises vessels of the Oscar II and Akula class. Each sub is equipped with 24 SS-N-19 Shipwreck long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. A fourth-generation Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarine will be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2010-2011. The Severodvinsk submarine combines the ability to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles) with nuclear warheads, and effectively engage hostile submarines and surface warships. "The tests of the cruise missile for the submarine are under way," the source said. Diesel-electric submarines in the Russian Navy are represented by Kilo class vessels. They will be gradually replaced by Project 667 Lada class submarines. The sub features a new anti-sonar coating for its hull, an extended cruising range, and advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry, including Club-S cruise missile systems.
The first submarine of the Lada class, named the St. Petersburg, is undergoing sea trials and may enter service with the Russian Navy this year. A second Lada class submarine, the Kronshtadt, which is the first in the production series, is also being built at St. Petersburg's Admiralty Shipyards and will be commissioned in 2009. A third submarine, whose keel was laid in November 2006, is named after a city associated with Russian naval glory - Sevastopol - and is expected to be launched in 2010. The source also said the Russian Navy has several 'special purpose' submarines designed for testing of new technologies and weaponry. Some open sources earlier reported the existence of Project 20120 B-90 Sarov diesel-electric submarine, which has a nuclear reactor as a supplementary power generator. The vessel was commissioned in 2007 and according to some reports may be used by Russia's Northern Fleet as a spy vessel in northern waters.
Russia has created 20 motorized infantry brigades as part of ongoing military reforms, the commander of the Ground Forces said on Friday. Russia's military reforms are focused on the reorganization of the military command and control system from a four-tier (military district - army - division - regiment) to a more flexible and battle ready three-tier structure (military district - operational command - brigade) and are due to be completed in the next 3-4 years. "The Ground Forces have already formed a number of combat units, including 20 brigades that are similar to the one taking part in the military drills in the Kemerovo Region," Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev said. According to the general, the Russian Ground Forces will hold about 30 military exercises involving the newly-created brigades in 2009. "During the exercises we will study the effectiveness [of new units] in terms of operational control, mobility and fire power," Boldyrev said. In addition, Russia is planning to conduct large-scale theater-level exercises with Belarus and in the Caucasus region this year.
About 10 submarines from the Russian Navy are accomplishing various tasks throughout the world's oceans, a source in the Navy General Staff said on Friday. "Up to 10 submarines are conducting various missions around the globe, including training and combat patrol missions with nuclear weapons on board," the source said, adding that most of them are from the Northern and the Pacific fleets. The Russian Navy maintains a fleet of 60 nuclear-powered and diesel-electric submarines in active service, including 10 nuclear-powered strategic submarines, over 30 nuclear-powered attack submarines. Under a new military doctrine, the nuclear triad of ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and strategic bombers will remain the core of the Russian armed forces for the next two decades. "The Navy General Staff believe that strategic submarines will continue playing an important role in safeguarding Russia's national security because they remain one of the key components of Russia's military might and serve as a reliable deterrent to potential threats and aggression against the country," the Navy source said.
Russia has recently started mooring trials of the first Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarine, which will be equipped with Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles. The Yury Dolgoruky submarine, built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia, was taken out of dry dock in April 2007. The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes. Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015. In addition, a fourth-generation Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarine will be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2010-2011. The Severodvinsk submarine combines the ability to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles) with nuclear warheads, and effectively engage hostile submarines and surface warships. The second submarine of this class is expected to enter service by 2015. Russia is planning to completely modernize the naval component of its nuclear triad by 2016.
Russia may prioritize the development of nuclear-powered attack submarines armed with nuclear-capable cruise missiles in the future, while maintaining its fleet of strategic subs, a senior Navy official said. The Russian Navy maintains a fleet of about 60 submarines, including 10 nuclear-powered strategic submarines, over 30 nuclear-powered attack submarines, diesel-electric submarines and special-purpose subs. "Probably, tactical nuclear weapons [on submarines] will play a key role in the future," Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, deputy head of the Navy General Staff, told RIA Novosti. "Their range and precision are gradually increasing." "There is no longer any need to equip missiles with powerful nuclear warheads. We can install low-yield warheads on existing cruise missiles," he said. The admiral mentioned Russia's new Severodvinsk nuclear-powered attack submarine, which will be commissioned with the Navy in 2010-2011, as an example.
The fourth-generation Graney class submarine combines the ability to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles) with nuclear warheads, and effectively engage hostile submarines and surface warships. However, Russia will maintain and upgrade its fleet of strategic submarines, carrying ballistic missiles, as a naval component of the nuclear triad. "In this regard, we will build at least six Borey-class strategic submarines to serve in the Northern and the Pacific fleets," Burtsev said. The first Borey-class submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, was built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia, and is undergoing mooring trials. It will carry up to 16 Bulava-M sea-based ballistic missiles. Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011.
Russian Strategic Bombers Could Use Cuba Airfields
Russia expressed interest in using Cuban airfields during patrol missions of its strategic bombers, Russia's Interfax news agency reported. "There are four or five airfields in Cuba with 4,000-meter-long runways, which absolutely suit us," Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev told Interfax. Zhikharev, who is the chief of staff of the Russian Air Force's long-range aviation, said, "If the two chiefs of state display such a political will, we are ready to fly there." Zhikharev also told Interfax that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered a military airfield on La Orchila island as a temporary base for Russian strategic bombers. "If a relevant political decision is made, this is possible," he said, according to Interfax. Zhikharev said he visited La Orchila in 2008 and can confirm that with minor reconstruction, the airfield owned by a local naval base can accept fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers.
Russia began an eight-day massive military drill in Siberia on Monday, local media reported. Around 5,000 service personnel and hundreds of armored tanks and fighter planes took part in the drill, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. The drill will last till March 23, said Colonel Igor Konashenkov, aide to the commander of Russia's ground forces.