That loud noise you hear now coming out of the Middle East is the sound of a frighteningly dangerous game of chicken between Russia and Israel [and inferentially the U.S.].
Last minute pleas by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Soviet President Vladimir Putin delivered at Sochi on the Black Sea – where Moscow has stumbled into a monumentally expensive international Winter Olympic screw-up – apparently went unheeded. Never mind that President Obama’s emissary, the Vietnam veteran and U.S. foreign minister, former Sen. John Kerry, had just been there with the same mission. In today’s digital speak, he was trying to “task manage”, or “reset” , or “reboot” but was finally faced with a “logoff” in U.S.-Russian relations. Indeed, Kerry and Netanyahu, got the old Russian valenki [boot].
Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin
The Cold War is now so over that it might as well be grouped with the ancient ice ages, but there is one echo rolling across Europe from East to West: the Russian attempt to dominate the natural gas market on the European continent. As the energy sector accounts for 25 percent of Russia’s economy, any large changes in energy markets present major challenges for Vladimir Putin. Those old enough to recall the Soviet gas pipeline controversy of the early 1980s?—?a high-profile fight of the Reagan administration to deprive Moscow of hard currency?—?are right to have a feeling of déjà vu, as Putin’s motives transcend honest commerce.
Despite huge gas reserves waiting to be tapped, most of Europe lags the United States in the shale gas boom for several reasons: a lack of mineral rights on private land, bureaucratic obstacles, the usual intransigent opposition from Europe’s potent green lobby, and, perhaps most important, the lack of adequate pipelines to connect new gas fields to the market. Hence, natural gas prices in Europe are several times higher than U.S. prices. Since natural gas and oil are Russia’s principal export commodities, the prospect of newly abundant oil and cheaper gas outside of Russia is a grave threat to Russia’s economic and political might in the region. Russia can’t do much about global oil trends, but Putin and the state-controlled Gazprom are doing everything they can to throttle new gas development in Eastern Europe, rerunning the same kind of behind-the-scenes propaganda against shale gas that the KGB ran against new NATO missiles back in the Cold War. Propagandists in Russia are promoting every translation possible for the message fracking=bad. The second prong of Putin’s strategy is to control pipeline development as far as possible. But things are not going well for him.
Here are some pertinent excerpts from the remarks of Stephen Blank, soon-to-retire professor of national security affairs at the Army War College, and Mark Schneider, a senior analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy:
Schneider: Russia is increasingly anti-democratic and hostile to the United States. Xenophobia is widespread in Russia. The Kremlin is currently encouraging nationalism and militarizing the country. It constantly attacks the West. And a sizable number of the Russian population see neighboring countries as part of the Russian zone of influence. Now, this is not me speaking; this is taken from a recent statement by Alexei Kudrin, who, until September 2011, was the finance minister of Russia and who has just been publicly offered a Cabinet position by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin.
Blank: We are currently witnessing a 33 trillion ruble overall rearmament of the Russian military by 2020. That’s about $800 billion, depending on the exchange rate. Now there’s no doubt that between 1990 and 2008 essentially there was a procurement holiday, for all intents and purposes, in the Russian military. The military was busted. They need to recapitalize the military…But to the extent that they are building this kind of military, it is clearly intended to take on, on the one hand, the U.S. and NATO, and secondly, the enemy that they will never speak about in public but which does preoccupy a lot of military thinking, namely China.
Schneider: There are massive differences in the infrastructure for nuclear weapons production and in missile production. In both cases, you have very active Russian programs underway and virtually minimal programs in the United States. One of the key differences is this, and I was able to get this declassified several years ago. The Russian nuclear weapons complex is capable of producing at least 2,000 nuclear weapons a year, and that’s from a Russian source. And they have active production programs in both ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles], SLBMs [submarine-launched ballistic missiles].
Blank: Now if you look at the map, the Russian Far East, which directly adjoins China, is what we call an economy-of-force theater. It is a theater that can only survive by sustaining itself. If a war broke out between Russia and China — and now and then Russian military and political officials actually allude to the possibility of a Chinese threat — probably within a day the Chinese could take out the Trans- Siberian Railway and essentially isolate the area from the rest of continental Russia. Therefore, the only recourse that the Russian military has in a contingency with China is nuclear.
Schneider: What’s the Administration’s reaction to this unprecedented, in the post-Cold War period, enhancement of Russian nuclear capabilities? Basically, it’s more nuclear reductions. We’re making nuclear reductions, according to the information released by the State Department, much faster than is necessary to comply with the New START treaty. We are pursuing minimum modernization programs, and we’re going to do more arms control.
Blank: Fundamentally, this is a government that has what the German philosopher Carl Schmitt called a presupposition of conflict. It sees itself as threatened on all sides. I have, in a study that’s coming out…a threat assessment that essentially NATO and the U.S. are advancing, are creating threats to strategic stability — that’s missile defenses — and that the likelihood of war in an around Russia’s frontiers is growing. And they’ve been saying those kind of things for about five or six years now. It’s not just a new wrinkle in Russian thinking.
Schneider: They’ve designed new types of nuclear weapons in post-Cold War. They’re probably doing hydronuclear testing as part of the development program. So all these things are underway, and there are enormous differences. On our side, we will soon have zero experienced nuclear weapons designers in our complex. The Russians have experienced nuclear weapons designers that have actually done small-yield testing, in all probability. They are designing, producing new types of ICBMs.
Blank: Further, Putin said, at the same time we see methodical attempts to undermine the strategic balance in various ways and forms — missile defense. The United States has essentially launched now the second phase in its global missile defense system. There are attempts to sound out possibilities for expanding NATO further eastward. That tells me that they have bought an intelligence assessment that doesn’t exist, that is basically fabricated. There is nobody in this town or in Brussels talking about expanding NATO. It’s not going to happen anytime soon. Yet Russian intelligence and the government obviously believe this. And that’s already a sign of something dangerous.
Schneider: We have not had an ICBM or SLBM design team operational since about 1990. That has an enormous potential asymmetrical impact. When we ever get around to designing a new missile — and right now the earliest date for that is 2042 IOC [initial operational capability] — we’re going to face unprecedented problems because we will have no one — maybe a few people, you know, as consultants, elderly consultants, but — nobody in terms of, you know, experience — there’s no experienced ICBM designer, SLBM designer in the United States with any sort of recent design experience of any significance.
One year ago on May 7, President-elect Vladimir Putin‘s motorcade traversed the empty streets of Moscow, cleared of every living soul by the police, to his inauguration in the Kremlin. This anniversary passed mostly unnoticed by the public and mainstream media. The reason is not so much that it was overshadowed by Victory Day celebrations and protest demonstrations but because there was nothing much to celebrate.
The country is not in better shape than it was a year ago, a fact that even Putin loyalists admit. Journalist Vitaly Tretyakov wrote on his LiveJournal blog: “The leaders of the ruling class are out of control. Reforms have been either unsuccessful or were transformed into business opportunities for bureaucrats. An innovative economy has not appeared, and there are no prospects for it in the near future. And the population hates the greedy ruling class more and more.”
Today, it is absolutely clear that the liberal “Putin 2.0″ predicted by his fans did not and will not appear. What Putin has achieved over the last 12 months fits perfectly into the description articulated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Dublin last December: re-Sovietization.
Russia will be a guarantor of world security, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday at the annual military parade on Red Square.
Putin made his short speech at the culmination of Victory Day, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany 68 years ago. It is Russia’s most important secular holiday, honoring the huge military and civilian losses of World War II and showing off the country’s modern arsenal.
I view this remark as significant. Russia is going to stop the West from interferring in other countries even if it means nuclear retaliation. Several Russian leaders have already implied nuclear retaliation for western interference in Syria and Iran.
Fiddlesticks, says Hirsh. Romney, we are told, was on to an inconvenient truth about Russia, which has become increasingly truculent in its approach to America and the West. To the joy of former Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who has already tweeted about Hirsh’s piece, his candidate is now being vindicated. The truth about Russia is in plain sight even if Washington policymakers are loath to acknowledge it. Russia is returning, under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, to a virulently anti-American stance, one that draws on imperialist czarist traditions to insert a pudgy thumb in the eye of the West:
Russia has held a major military parade in the center of Moscow, an annual May 9 tradition to mark the German surrender in 1945 and the end of the Second World War in Europe. This follows French ceremonies on Wednesday.
President Vladimir Putin was among the dignitaries at Thursday’s military parade, with Russia celebrating its most important secular public holiday to mark the 1945 surrender of Germany in the Second World War, just over a week after Adolf Hitler committed suicide.
The annual Russian tradition was introduced by Soviet wartime leader Josef Stalin, but the ceremonies lulled somewhat in the 1990s under Russia’s liberal post-Communist leadership.
The best time for a nuclear attack from Russia/China is May 6th in 2013. Not that anything is going to happen in 2013. Around the middle of spring on a Monday is the best time. There is May 1 (May Day) and May 9 (Victory Day) that provide cover for movement of personel and military equipment.
In 2014 the best time for a nuclear attack is Monday May 5th.
A nuclear attack won’t happen without a good excuse. First we will see a good excuse which will probably come out of the Middle East. Then we wait for spring.
The Doomsday Calendar
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.
Putin did not say how, but he did announce he had ordered the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria.
Israeli Debkafile’s military sources disclosed that the Russian leader was referring to S-300 anti-air systems and the nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander (NATO named SS-26 Stone) surface missiles, which are precise enough to hit a target within a 5-7 meter radius at a distance of 280 kilometers.
At a time when Europe and other parts of the world are governed by forgettable mediocrities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey‘s prime minister for a decade now, seethes with ambition. Perhaps the only other leader of a major world nation who emanates such a dynamic force field around him is Russia‘s Vladimir Putin, with whom the West is also supremely uncomfortable.
Erdogan and Putin are ambitious because they are men who unrepentantly grasp geopolitics. Putin knows that any responsible Russian leader ensures that Russia has buffer zones of some sort in places like Eastern Europe and the Caucasus; Erdogan knows that Turkey must become a substantial power in the Near East in order to give him leverage in Europe. Erdogan’s problem is that Turkey’s geography between East and West contains as many vulnerabilities as it does benefits. This makes Erdogan at times overreach. But there is a historical and geographical logic to his excesses.
The story begins after World War I.