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Postby Armenian on Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:50 am

Symposium: China Rising


The recent China-Russia joint military exercises were clearly a symbol of China’s military objectives. Without doubt, the communist regime is in an arms race with the United States and is intent on overtaking the U.S. as the world’s superpower. Many observers also believe that China is preparing for war, knowing that the U.S. represents the only obstacle to its expansionist objectives. Peking recently indicated its seriousness by threatening to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. if it interferes with China’s plan to militarily conquer Taiwan.

How dangerous is this situation? What threat does China real pose and how must we deal with it? What do we do if China acts militarily against Taiwan? To discuss these and other issues with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel of experts. Our guests today are:

Al Santoli, the President of the Asia America Initiative in Washington, DC. He is editor of the China in Focus and Asia in Focus weekly e-publications. He also is director of the successful Development for Peace program in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines;

Gurmeet Kanwal, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Security Studies that is part of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi;

Prof. Dan Goure, the Vice President with the Lexington Institute, a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. He is involved in a wide range of issues as part of the institute’s national security program. He was a member of the 2001 Department of Defense Transition Team and spent two years in the U.S. Government as the director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense;

Patrick Devenny, a Henry M. Jackson National Security Fellow at the Center for Security Policy with an expertise in international terrorism and Asian security affairs;


Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr., an expert in bilateral and trilateral alliances and their impact upon U.S. national security. He has been published extensively on matters relating to China. His work has also appeared in In the National Interest and the Globalist and he is a frequent contributor to The American Thinker and Global Politician.


FP: Al Santoli, Gurmeet Kanwal, Prof. Dan Goure, Patrick Devenny and Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr., welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Mr. Santoli, let’s begin with you. Kindly give us a brief overview of the danger and threat that China poses to the U.S. and the West. Is it overrated or underrated?

Santoli: China is clearly undergoing a dramatic arms build-up, utilizing a number of modernized strategic and space-based weapons systems, as well as a blue water navy, that are offensive in their application. Chinese political and military officials have repeatedly stated that the United States is their "principal enemy." All Chinese modernization planning and development has been focused on how to defeat the United States for supremacy in the Asia Pacific region, and in other parts of the world where competition over strategic natural resources are becoming increasingly competitive.

In considering China's intentions externally, one must consider its repressive internal policies against open political and social organizations and against religious believers. We face the same type of repetition of history as in the early to mid-1930s when much of Europe and the United States ignored Germany's repressive policies and military modernization.

We must also consider the strategic "Multi-Polar" alliance between China, Russia and Iran which is military in nature and directed against the United States. Taiwan is more important to world peace than its geographical position as a strategic island in Southeast Asia. Taiwan is the first ethnic-Chinese government and society to have held peaceful democratic elections. Its system can be a model for mainland China. For war to be ultimately averted, there must be change inside of China, with those elements of social, political and religious reformers overcoming the repression of the 2% of the population Communist Party and there back-up in the military and paramilitary police. The solution cannot be imposed by the West, it must be Chinese in nature. But we can help the situation with a firm commitment to helping defend Taiwan's democracy.

FP: Mr. Kanwal, do you agree with Mr. Santoli’s assessment? And please help illuminate what a “firm commitment to helping defend Taiwan’s democracy” would entail.

Kanwal: China calls its ongoing quest for superpower status a “peaceful rise”. However, while its lips say one thing, its body language is different. China has not hesitated to use strong muscle power throughout the last 50 years to settle international disputes. It is the only major Asian country that has fought wars with all of its land neighbors and claims to have done so in self-defence.

It was involved in a vicious war in Korea in the 1950s. In 1962 China fought a border war with India that shattered illusions of peaceful co-existence for many decades to come. It fought with Russia over a disputed island in the Assuri River. It invaded Vietnam to teach it a lesson and then quite inexplicably withdrew.

China always speaks of the peaceful re-unification of Taiwan with the mainland but does not hesitate to issue dire threats at the smallest sign of Taiwan’s quest for self-determination. It has fired surface-to-surface missiles into the Taiwan Straits and regularly practices amphibious landings. China has taken physical possession of some of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea even though several other nations have much stronger claims. China was the world’s leading proliferator of nuclear weapons till recently when A Q Kahn’s antics propelled Pakistan to the top and it inherited that dubious distinction. Hence, China’s emerging military capabilities must be seen in the light of its likely intentions in future.

FP: Fair enough, so what will the U.S. have to do to confront these “likely intentions” and, as I asked earlier, what would a “firm commitment to helping defend Taiwan’s democracy” entail? Dr. Goure?

Goure: The consistent position of the U.S. government is that it will oppose any attempt to change Taiwan's status by force. The credibility of this position depends on a willingness and capability to use force to counter any Chinese aggression. China must know that it cannot win a war with the United States. Beijing could choose to escalate, but it could not win.

China is developing a military capability to deter or, if necessary, deny U.S. intervention on behalf of Taiwan. The necessary response is a U.S. military posture that defeats Chinese aims. This means, first, forces that can gain and hold the seas and air spaces in and around Taiwan, specifically, nuclear attack submarines and stealthy aircraft such as the F-22. Second, it requires theater and strategic missile defenses. Finally, this strategy necessitates the ability to hold at risk strategic targets throughout China. Capabilities such as the cruise missile firing SSGNs, long-range strategic bombers and global strike systems satisfy this requirement.

FP: So just a second, we are actually considering a real war between the U.S. and China and Dr. Goure is suggesting that China cannot win. Mr. Devenny what would a war between the U.S. and China look like and are we certain we would “win”? In a situation where a few nuclear bombs are exchanged doesn’t everyone lose? Or might this not necessarily be nuclear?

Devenny: Yes, nuclear war, even a limited exchange, would have a disastrous effect on both nations, particularly China, considering the marked superiority of the American nuclear arsenal. Luckily, such a possibility is fairly remote. No massive Chinese ICBM build up has been reported, and extensive financial investment overseas is hardly the modus operandi of a country actively planning for thermonuclear conflict. Dr. Goure is correct; the Chinese would invariably lose were a war to escalate to a true state-on-state level.

To avoid this outcome, the Chinese would hypothetically initiate a sharp, quick battle over Taiwan that they could, conceivably, “win”. Using submarines such as their recently procured Kilos, the PRC would attempt to close down the island’s shipping lanes, while concurrently achieving air dominance. Were they to be successful in this attempt, a U.S. President would be forced to weigh the desirability of fighting a war 7,000 miles away, over a battered island nation surrounded by modern warships and hundreds of fighter aircraft.

I would like to stress at this point however that the PRC buildup by no means suggests hostilities are inevitable, or even likely. After all, China reaps other benefits from its expanded military capabilities, namely additional leverage in Taiwan’s domestic political arena, an increased willingness of American politicians to rein in pro-independence forces on the island, and a certain marshal prestige that could siphon off some of their own population’s latent political dissatisfaction.

FP: Mr. Stakelbeck, can you expand on Mr. Devenny’s point about China reaping “other benefits” from its expanded military capabilities? Do you agree with his angle on this? Kindly expand on why this minimizes the chance of hostilities.

Stakelbeck: I agree with Mr. Devenny, specifically his point that hostilities between China and Taiwan are not inevitable. In addition to the three important benefits noted, expanded military capabilities have had several additional benefits for China.

First, not only have China's military capabilities forced Taiwan's domestic population to recognize the mainland's growing power, but it has dissuaded Taiwan's potential allies in Asia from coming to its aid more vigorously. In fact, China's military capabilities have fostered the creation of organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and other Asia-specific arrangements.

Second, strange as it may seem, China's expanded military capabilities have inadvertently increased economic integration between China and Taiwan. Both economies have become increasingly inter-connected on several distinct levels. Bilateral cooperation will only expand, as China's military capabilities begin to slowly influence economic policy decisions made by Taiwan's business and government leaders. The Taiwanese business sector, with an eye on investment in China, will try not to offend Beijing, realizing that any invasion would all but destroy the enormous gains already made and eliminate any chance for market competitiveness in the future.

Third, it is only logical for the Taiwanese military hierarchy to question whether it is better to join China in a great "Asian brotherhood" of nations, rather than to fight it in a war that will almost certainly destroy the island's delicate infrastructure. Taiwan's failure to reach a consensus on American military hardware sales proves once again that there is uncertainty at the highest levels of Taiwan's military and political leadership.

Taken collectively, all of these points minimize the chance of hostilities between China and Taiwan.

FP: Fair enough, so what’s going on with China and Russia holding their first joint military exercises? Should we be worried?

Santoli: The goal of the Russia-China military exercises, as well as the numerous public and secret military and political deals signed between Putin and Hu, should raise serious concern. Pan-Asian political/military cooperation between Russia and China encompasses from the Silk Road energy routes in Central Asia across to Vladivistok on the Pacific, opposite Japan and Alaska.

In addition, Russia has enabled the Chinese People’s Liberation Armed Forces [PLA] with state-of-the-art Sukhoi 27 and Sukhoi 30 fighter bombers, and in-flight refueling capability. And Russia’s assistance to the People’s Liberation Navy’s quiet submarine force, combined with the miniaturization of warheads technology and MIRV’ing capability that China bought or stole from the US has substantially increased its nuclear strike capability against the United States. Equally significant are the hand-held lasers that Russia has helped provide the Chinese Army that can be used on a tactical battlefield to blind US forces, ship crews, pilots and miniature anti-satellite satellites can blind US Command and Control in the case of conflict.

Chinese leaders throughout the reign of the Communist Party have repeatedly shown that they are willing to launch political, economic and military campaigns that caused suffering and death of countless Chinese citizens. The US and our allies must be able to convince Beijing that they cannot militarily defeat the forces of freedom. That is getting increasingly more difficult, due to our sticky and expensive involvements in other areas of the world.

The current generation of “spoiled brat” Chinese Communist leaders have shown a ruthless tendency against internal religious believers and political dissenters. In order to hold on to their power, they may exploit nationalism and launch attacks in any given direction, not only toward Taiwan, with power-hungry military-industrial cadre in support. Potential social disruption in China, caused by the Communist Party’s corruption, mismanagement and callousness to the well being of their own citizens, could also be a factor leading to external war against a “common” enemy

Many of those Americans who currently say that the Chinese Communists value their economic integration more than lust for power, are forgetting the mistakes made by the best and brightest in the US and Western Europe in the 1930s who claimed a similar view of Nazi Germany before World War II. The competition over oil and other scarce natural resources are also vital flashpoints for conflict, more significant than the Taiwan political issue. Also, control of North Korea after the demise of Kim Jong-il will also pit the PRC, Russia, Japan and the US-South Korea in competition for influence in North Asia. In one of the bilateral security agreements between Russia and China since 2001, Moscow pledged to rush emergency military assistance to the PLA in the instance of a conflict over Taiwan. And the Russian sale of Sunburn anti-Aegis ship missiles to the PLA is part of a military strategy to destroy US aircraft carriers and Aegis radar destroyers in a Pacific conflict.

In addition, China and Russia are supporting anti-American despots such as Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez with weapons and training for insurgency forces that could bog us down in our own hemisphere. And the electronic spy and warfare bases operated by Russia and China in Cuba pose a threat to our vital defense, homeland security and economic communications.

Kanwal: Mr. Santoli’s formulation that there is a deep military nexus between China and Russia is questionable. In fact, it would be wrong to deduce that China is concentrating exclusively on enhancing its military power. Military power is now only one element of a nation’s ability to influence and shape the international environment. The Chinese leaders have for long propounded the concept of ‘comprehensive national power’. The Chinese are acutely conscious of the fact that they cannot hope to match the military muscle of the West for many more decades and they have been quick to realize that, in future, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, interdependent and wired, economic power will be the predominant determinant of a nation’s global status and its relative weight in the new world order. Hence, the Chinese are working assiduously towards becoming an economic superpower.

Simultaneously, China is modernizing its military forces to prepare for an option of the last resort, should Taiwan suddenly declare independence, and Russia is its foremost supplier of military hardware. The Chinese are unlikely to either invade Taiwan to secure its merger with the mainland or launch even missile and air strikes as such action will have huge economic repercussions. New FDI will almost certainly stop; projects in the pipeline will be put on hold; some MNCs may even pull out; and, the stock market will inevitably crash. However, as Mr. Devenny has said, a naval and air blockade of Taiwan, though it would be likely to invite UN sanctions, may appear attractive to the Chinese leadership. Cyber attacks, for which China has been preparing since the first Gulf War in 1991, are even more likely as these can completely disrupt the economy and provide inherent deniability.

The Russia-China joint military exercises are politically important but not militarily significant. These are likely to be aimed at assessing inter-operability challenges for joint patrolling, preparing for joint search-and-rescue and future cooperation as part of multinational intervention forces. Despite the Chinese purchase of large quantities of Russian military hardware over several decades, there has been no major military and strategic cooperation between the two countries. The relationship is basically a patron-client, buyer-seller relationship with limited transfer of technology to manufacture under license. It will be recalled that the Chinese had debunked former Russian Prime Minister Primakov’s proposal of a China-Russia-India triangle.

FP: Mr. Devenny?

Devenny: I tend to side more with Mr. Kanwal concerning the limited nature of both the joint exercises and the overall relationship. While closer relations between Russia and China should be of some concern to Americans, they stem more from a temporary confluence of interests than any grand geo-strategic plan, as Mr. Santoli alludes to. Both nations - especially a declining Russia - fear the recent expansion of American influence into Central Asia, which has historically been within their sphere of influence. The anti-democratic leadership of the two nations also share a deep mistrust of Western political reforms and their "liberalizing" effects, as they are keenly aware that such ideas only serve to undermine their own domestic support structures.

These fears represent the adhesive that have kept the two powers together temporarily. However, the relationship is hampered by historical rivalries, as formal alliances have been perennial non-starters. Were China to accelerate its economic march into Central Asia, you would invariably see Russian cooperation with China decline. Additionally, were China to gain access to the European arms market, the fire sale on Russian weapons would wane considerably (probably the only positive result of such a development).

Stakelbeck: Although the China-Russia bilateral military relationship remains somewhat immature at this time, it would be dangerous to assume that the relationship could not become more intimate; giving the “Peace Mission 2005” joint military exercise a higher degree of relevance.

Recognizing the limitations of confronting the U.S. unilaterally, China and Russia are quietly calibrating their existing military relationship to allow for the pursuit of more ambitious endeavors in the future. This includes the continued sale of advanced Russian weaponry and equipment to China designed specifically to confront U.S. forces in the Pacific.

At any given moment, a regional or global confrontation, perhaps over oil and natural gas resources or Taiwan, could accelerate unfortunate changes in the dynamics of the China-Russia military arrangement making a military solution more feasible. Moreover, American or allied military action against rogue nuclear regimes in North Korea and Iran would only deepen the military relationship between China and Russia.

The development of formal, geostrategic entities such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which China and Russia are key participants, magnifies the difficulties confronting the U.S. The active solicitation and recruitment of marginalized governments in Central Asia and the Middle East against perceived U.S. hegemony is reason for genuine concern and should prompt a coordinated diplomatic and intelligence response from Washington.

FP: Ok gentleman, we are going into our final round. Mr. Santoli, first, feel free to make a rejoinder to the debate that has broken out here about the temporary Chinese-Soviet military romance. Second, let us suppose that President Bush assembles all of you as an advisory panel on China and he asks you what to do first. What do you tell him?

Santoli: The Chinese are cognizant of the rise and fall of empires throughout their own history and realize that although economic power is key to developing and sustaining international political power, a nation state must have the ability to defend itself against or destroy powerful rivals. China's new generation of war planners fully appreciate the need to integrate economics, communications, aerospace and electronic and cyber dominance with the ability to project conventional and nuclear military

For the academics and economists who are unfamiliar with Chinese military writings and strategy, I would ask them to seek information on a term popular in the highest-level Chinese military circles -- "Assassin's Mace." This is used in reference to new weapons systems being developed to defeat the United States militarily, where "the weak can defeat the strong" using pin-point targeted surprise new weapons systems. Where some US analysts dismiss an "inferior" Russia, it would be foolish to underestimate the quality of their military-industrial scientists and engineers who are collaborating with some of the best and brightest technicians in China, whose performances have been respected in some of the most prestigious science and technology university programs throughout the West.

One would also be foolish to dismiss the political/military partnership between Russia and China. In many Chinese histories and famous novels, the Emperor or protagonist seeks to isolate and defeat its rivals, one at a time. This includes making temporary non-sentimental alliances with those one owes revenge, in order to first defeat the stronger rival before redressing vengeance on the erstwhile ally. Thus the current anti-US alliance that been began developing dating back to the Yeltsin era between Russia and China, when the initial weapons deals were made to target US strengths. The US success in the Balkans War brought the two Eurasian Powers together, this was further expanded by the eastern expansion of NATO, the role of US forces in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the Sino-Soviet relationship with both Saddam Hussein and Iran.

Russian motivation for this alliance is more than just a matter of "weapons sales". Throughout history, the lust for revenge can be blind. Around 5 years ago, while I still worked in Congress, I had a very pointed discussion with on of Putin's key US watchers [i.e. from the same organization of origin]. I asked him why Russians were risking their own future by arming the PLA. His response became very emotional: "We know we are Riding the Tiger. But I witnessed the delegations of US businessmen led by Ron Brown [Clinton Admin Commerce Secretary] who came to Russia and how they conspired with our billionaire tycoons to exploit the Russian people." It would be unwise to underestimate the Russian leaders' desire to reclaim empire and seek revenge against the US for the humiliation of losing the Cold War and the eastward expansion of NATO. It may also have something to do with the region's fear of a re-militarized Japan as an ally of the United States.

The scope of the August 18-25 Russo-Sino military exercise on Shandung peninsula -- opposite the two Koreas and Japan on the Yellow, north of Shanghai and very far away from Taiwan is historic and breath taking. The Reuters reports that 100,000 troops are involved including many paratroopers and naval infantry to practice landing exercises on a hostile foreign territory to "stabilize a country" outside their own territory... Strategic bombers, in-flight refuelling for state-or-the-art Sukhoi jet fighters, submarines, naval infantry landing craft, battalions of paratroopers from both armies and 100 battle tanks are being used. Could this exclusively mean an invasion of Taiwan? If you look at the geography of the exercise and instability and threat of potential conflict in North Korea with a potential US-Japan war against the nuclear armed "Hermit Kingdom," this exercise can be seen a totally different tactical and strategic light.

The issue of cyber and electronic warfare is being perfected by both China and Russia. For the past 6 years China has been conducting cyber war experiments across the Taiwan Strait, targeting banking systems, military communications and government offices. Most cyber attacks against the US Government have been traced back to China and Russia based sites. The CW and EW bases operated by China and Russia in Cuba in fact pose potential tragedy as

Recommendation: Although this may sound impolitique, it would be wise for the United States to send a clear message to China and Russia and all other adversaries that violation of the Monroe Doctrine will not be tolerated. A quiet but devastating US cyber strike against the Cuban-based CW and EW bases could eliminate them without threat of to innocent civilians or risking a highly publicized confrontation.

Kanwal: While Mr. Santoli’s arguments about the probability of a real convergence in the Chinese and Russian worldviews are unexceptionable, an overly pro-active US response will definitely ensure that the relationship graduates to a more meaningful strategic partnership, even if not a military alliance. Excessive US pressure will only drive the Chinese to up the ante a couple of notches in their rhetoric as well as their military preparations for the reunification of Taiwan.

Post-Cold War geopolitics is still in a state of flux. In the emerging poly-centric world order, great powers other than the US will continue to grope for some more time to find their place in the sun. Not all of these rumblings will be directly aimed at countering US economic and military predominance. In the interest of a stable world order and in its own larger interests, it will be prudent for the US to accommodate the new powers rather than confront them with an alliance that has already begun to fray at the edges, as witnessed in the declining support for the US in its Iraq venture.

At the same time, the US must not allow itself to be overwhelmed by the ongoing transition in power-politics and the emerging David-versus-Goliath type of military technologies that seek to exploit the strengths of asymmetric warfare as a means to counter a much superior military power. The US can and must continue to utilize its economic clout and military muscle to exercise a stabilising international influence for the common good while dealing firmly with the so-called rogue regimes that threaten world peace and stability through WMD proliferation and international terrorism.

The emerging economic powerhouses like China and India will inevitably rise to take their rightful place as global players. Analysts in the West tend to look at China’s self-professed ‘peaceful rise’ with suspicion and mistrust and recommend a closer strategic partnership with India as a way of hedging US bets to counter-balance China’s influence in Asia, in addition to the existing alliances with Japan and others in the region. China’s strong-arm tactics over the last half-century have led to such thinking. The best policy at present would be to continue to engage China as it integrates itself with the international economic order while keeping a close watch on its military ambitions and preparations. Speaking softly while carrying a big stick and keeping one’s powder dry is always a good long-term policy in international politics.

Devenny: Were I advising the President on Chinese policy, I would first make it clear that China is, by far, the paramount issue in American foreign policy. The next century will largely be defined by the tone of Sino-American relations. The actions Mr. Santoli recommends are a good way to get the century off on a hostile note, and are not worth the cost. The Chinese could easily point out that their facilities in Cuba are more than matched by superior American electronics warfare facilities in Japan, Australia, and South Korea, not to mention the U.S. Navy’s off-shore capabilities.

Instead, I would recommend a series of steps that would ease China’s entry into the greater world economy, while also maintaining the forces necessary to deter them from any fool hardy aggression. This multi-faceted approach would allow the United States to be flexible in dealing with the rapidly changing and sometimes unpredictable Chinese political situation. On the second note, the drastic cuts to the U.S. Navy, especially the submarine fleet, have to stop. The Chinese have obviously decided on submarines as their main counter to American naval power, and the idea that we would drastically draw down our submarine forces at this time is inherently dangerous. Secondly, I would pursue a strong diplomatic effort in Asia, targeting especially Japan and the nations of central and southern Asia. We have much more to offer these nations than China –militarily and economically – and we should utilize these strengths in order to create a strong, if informal, regional alliance. Finally, I would prevail upon the Taiwanese government to upgrade their increasingly antiquated defense structure.

On the other side of the spectrum, I would recommend to the President that China is not irrevocably destined to be a hostile nation and future relations between the new superpower and the old can be extremely beneficial. One spot ripe for cooperation is North Korea, as China wants to avoid an aggressive nuclear-armed power on the Korean peninsula as much as the U.S. does. We should also pursue an economic policy specifically targeted at increasing integration between the Chinese economy and that of the U.S. and our Asian allies. While increased integration does not rule out conflict - hence my prior military recommendations – it does significantly lower the risks, as only a truly irrational Chinese government would undertake risky military operations in Asia that would adversely effect their massive investments in neighboring countries.

FP: Mr. Stakelbeck, last word goes to you.

Stakelbeck: The President must first recognize that China is taking deliberate, well-coordinated action on a global scale in a number of strategic areas which have national security implications for the U.S. Like Mr. Devenny, I too would make the President realize that China must be the focal point of any U.S. foreign policy moving forward. However, I would also inform the President that "Taiwan reunification" is not the major foreign policy goal of Beijing. Taiwan is merely a well-disguised diversion.

President Hu Jintao has made it very clear that China seeks power, influence and a return to greatness in the first half of 21st century. How will China achieve this objective? Invading Taiwan and risking the gains realized over the past fifteen to twenty years is not the answer. What would China gain by confronting the greatest naval power the world has ever known? Taiwan is important to China, but it does not support their long-term objectives.

China is exerting influence through its economic might which has allowed the country to expand and modernize its military, making it a potential threat to global security. And what does China’s economy rely upon most for its growth -- Oil. Therefore, an eventual land based invasion of the Middle East by a confederacy of states led by China, not an amphibious or airborne invasion of Taiwan, is the greatest threat to U.S. national security at the present time.

To confront this threat, I would recommend that our forces in the Middle East be strengthened immediately to let China know that we are aware of their true intentions. Second, we must get our European allies more involved in the defense of the Middle East. Like the U.S., the Europeans have become increasingly frustrated by the Iranian nuclear issue. They are also being affected by cheap Chinese goods that are flooding European markets putting thousands of people out of work. Third, our bilateral alliances with Australia, Japan and India must be strengthened. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines should be approached, as well. Finally, the American public should be told in very clear language that China presents a unique threat to U.S. national security.

At the end of the day, China values energy more than Taiwan. Moreover, there is a real possibility that Taiwan will be reunified with China without military action, since economic relations are increasing with each passing day. Mr. President, please don’t be fooled by public statements made by Beijing. Let us focus not on Taiwan, but on the Middle East where China is preparing to make its march.

FP: Al Santoli, Gurmeet Kanwal, Prof. Dan Goure, Patrick Devenny and Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr., thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium. We'll see you again soon.

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Postby Armanen on Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:05 pm

"With warning signs on the horizon across Europe and Asia, any successful American policy must focus on Eurasia as a whole and be guided by a Geostrategic design." (p.197)

"That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America's primacy)" (p. 198)

"The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role." (p. 198)

Russia and China have done a good job of limiting american influence in central asia, chiefly thru the SCO and bilateral treaties with the central asian nations.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:21 am

Russia ahead in Arctic 'gold rush'

State Duma Deputy Speaker and famous arctic explorer Artur Chilingarov

The Russians are leading a new "gold rush" in the high north, with a bold attempt to assert a claim to oil, gas and mineral rights over large parts of the Arctic Ocean up to the North Pole. Russia's most famous explorer, Artur Chilingarov, complete with nautical beard, is leading an expedition to plant the Russian flag in a capsule on the ocean seabed under the pole itself.

"The Arctic is Russian," Chilingarov has said. "We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian coastal shelf."

Russia is claiming that an underwater mountain known as the Lomonosov Ridge is actually an extension of the Russian landmass. This, it argues, justifies its claim to a triangular area up to the pole, giving it rights under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

Under Article 76 of the convention, a state can claim a 200 nautical mile exclusive zone and beyond that up to 150 nautical miles of rights on the seabed. The baseline from which these distances are measured depends on where the continental shelf ends. Russia lodged a formal claim in 2001 but the UN's Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf told it to resubmit the claim. The flag-planting can be seen as a symbolic gesture in support. At the same time, other states are acting to protect their interests in the Arctic. Canada is planning to build up to eight new patrol ships and the US Congress is considering a proposal to build two new heavy polar ships.

The rush for the Arctic has become more frenzied because of the melting of parts of the polar ice cap, which will allow easier exploration, and by the urgent need for new sources of oil and gas. A new sense of nationalism is also evident in Russia. The ice thaw is predicted by a team of international researchers whose Arctic Climate Impact Assessment suggested in 2004 that the summer ice cap could melt completely before the end of this century because of global warming. If the ice retreats, it could open up new shipping routes and new areas where natural resources could be exploited. The US Geological Survey estimates that a quarter of the world's undiscovered energy resources lies in Arctic areas.

At the moment, nobody's shelf extends up to the North Pole so there is an international area around the Pole administered by the International Seabed Authority from Kingston, Jamaica. But quite apart from the Russian claim there are multiple other disputes. The US and Canada argue over rights in the North-west Passage, Norway and Russia differ over the Barents Sea, Canada and Denmark are competing over a small island off Greenland, the Russian parliament is refusing to ratify an agreement with the US over the Bering Sea and Denmark is claiming the North Pole itself.

North Pole solutions

The five countries involved are considering two other potential ways of sharing the region, in which all the sea would be divided between them. The "median line method", supported by Canada and Denmark, would divide the Arctic waters between countries according to their length of nearest coastline. This would give Denmark the Pole itself but Canada would gain as well.

The "sector method" would take the North Pole as the centre and draw lines south along longitudes. This would penalise Canada but Norway and, to a lesser extent, Russia, would gain. One major problem is that the United States has not ratified the 1982 UN convention, largely because senators did not want to have international restrictions placed on American actions. However, in May 2007, Senator Richard Lugar, a senior Republican, pleaded for ratification in the light of the Russian moves, saying that an American voice was needed at the negotiating table.


Russia makes a bid for the North Pole (video):

Who is Artur Chilingarov:

Artur Nikolayevich Chilingarov


1957 - worked at a Baltic shipbuilding yard as a locksmith-fitter. Worked at Dikson. Chief of the first youth drifting polar research station North Pole-17. Headed department of hydrometeorological station in the city Amderm in Nenets Okrug. Elected deputy of the soviet in Nenets, member of NenetsÆ CPSU. Has been on all stations at the continent of the Southern pole. The first person ever to be on the Southern and Northern poles in one year. Participated at the first breaking up of the ice at an atomdriven icebreaker in the Arctic.
1990 - Became chairman of the Association of polar explorers when it was founded. Established a fund supporting polar explorers and inhabitants of the Northern territories. Established, together with Senkevich, the Russian fund for international humanitarian help and cooperation. Participated in the preparatory work of laws and decisions concerning the Northern territories. One of the authors of the program Arctic Children. Member of the (all-Russian) Party Renewal. Soviet hero.
1993 - elected deputy of the State Duma. Member of the Committee on Defence. Member of the fraction New Regional Policy. Represents Nenets autonomous Okrug, single-member constituency No.218, where he was (one among 7 candidats) nominated by the Civic Union. During election campain close connection with Yu.A. Senkevich.
1995 - elected deputy of the State Duma from the single mandate constituency no.218. Nominated candidate by Ivan Rybkin's Block.
1999 - joined Fatherland-All Russia, elected deputy of the State Duma from a single mandat constituency in Nenets AOk
2000 - joined Russia's Regions faction of the State Duma, elected deputy chairman of the State Duma

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Postby Armanen on Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:55 am


31.07.2007 20:18 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will sign a protocol on
cooperation within the coming several days. CSTO Sec. Gen. Nikolai
Bordyuzha made this statement to a direct TV bridge, during which
they were discussing cooperation issues between CSTO and SCO with the
Chinese side. "The protocol on cooperation is completely ready. It
is a matter of several days to sign it," N. Bordyuzha said.

He noted the document clearly indicates all forms of cooperation
between the two organizations. The CSTO Sec. Gen. noticed the SCO
and CSTO have never signed similar protocols before. "It is the first
document of this kind," N. Bordyuzha underlined.

N. Bordyuzha stressed the field of joint activities between CSTO and
SCO is very large. "All security issues that exist today we can and
must settle together," N. Bordyuzha said.

He noted in the framework of cooperation the CSTO plans to invite
Sec. Gen. of SCO to attend the session of CSTO member-states scheduled
for 5-6 October 2007 in Dushanbe.

N. Bordyuzha also said it would be a very interesting event to hold
joint trainings in SCO-CSTO format.

"Such a cooperation will allow us to carry out tasks not only of
pure military character, but also to work out issues of cooperation
between our organizations," N. Bordyuzha underscored, RBK reports.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Postby Armenian on Fri Aug 03, 2007 2:31 am

It is difficult to overemphasize this development within the Arctic. The political and economic significance of this bold operation is great indeed and will have longterm effects. What's more, this is a good example of how Russia's strategic interests and national pursuits put it on a direct collision course with the West. Incidentally, how much coverage has this news gotten in the mainstream controlled media? Minuscule. Thus far, for the past several years that is, the Russian Federation has been on a fast forward momentum. From the Far East to the Baltic, from the Arctic to the Caucasus the Russian Federation has been consolidating its political and economic interests. Thus far, the West has not been able to effectively check Russia's ambitions. As a result, I believe that a direct collision of some sort between the two opposing interests is coming within the near future.


Russia claims North Pole


Putin asserts his nation's ownership of 460,000 square miles of Arctic territory - and its huge reserves of oil and gas - after exploration feat of 'unimaginable difficulty'

Russia has taken a giant leap for the Kremlin by planting its flag on the ocean floor under the North Pole in a politically charged symbolic gesture to claim the rights to the sea bed which could be rich in oil and gas. In a dramatic technical feat testing international law, the Russians dispatched two mini-submarines 2.5 miles to the ocean floor in what is believed to be the first expedition of its kind. Both submersibles, with crews of three on board, completed their dangerous return to the surface yesterday after what was described as a "smooth landing".

But the expedition raised the hackles of Russia's neighbours, who also have their eye on the vast mineral deposits that could lie under the Arctic area, and who consider the Russian move as a brazen land grab. "This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say 'We're claiming this territory'," said Peter MacKay, Canada's Foreign Minister. Russia has fired the first diplomatic shot in a really cold war. The new oil rush has been galvanised by the accelerated shrinking of the polar ice cap because of global warming, which has allowed exploration that had been previously unthinkable because of the extreme conditions.

Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range crossing the polar region, is an extension of its territory. The UN has rejected Moscow's 2001 claim to the ocean bed, which it says is part of its continental shelf under international law but the Russians are due to resubmit their case to the committee administering the Law of the Sea.

A brains trust of 135 Russian scientists, led by a 68-year-old personal envoy of President Vladimir Putin, the explorer Artur Chilingarov, plan to map out part of the 1,240-mile ridge.

But yesterday's scientific achievement of dropping a titanium capsule containing the Russian flag on to the seabed could not conceal the political advantage gained by Mr Putin. Once again, he has demonstrated to the West Russia's determination to expand its energy empire. The news of the mission's success dominated Russian television yesterday. Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, said the President considered it "very important ... Being a unique scientific expedition, it is of course supported by the President."

The Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said: "I think this expedition will supply additional scientific evidence for our aspirations." But he added that the issue of territorial claim to the polar region "will be resolved in strict compliance with international law". If recognised, the claim would give Russia control of nearly half of the Arctic's near-half million square mile sea bed. But four other countries - the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark - also have claims on the ocean floor which could hold as much oil and gas as Saudi Arabia. According to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic seabed and subsoil account for 25 per cent of undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

The Russian convoy, consisting of a research vessel and a nuclear-powered ice-breaker, and the two submersibles which had been used in the filming of Titanic, set sail from the northern Russian city of Murmansk last week, catching the world by surprise. Initial concerns that the expedition could be thwarted by thick sea ice proved unfounded, although the research vessel, the Akademik Fyodorov suffered from engine trouble on the journey.

Mr Chilingarov was on board the Mir-1, the first submersible to go down, and spent eight hours and 40 minutes under water. The last 40 minutes were tense, as the crew tried to find an opening free of ice. "It was so good down there," he said on his triumphant return. "If someone else goes down there in 100 or 1,000 years, he will see our Russian flag." The Mir-2 had an international crew on board, including the Australian deep-sea specialist Mike McDowell who previously led tours to the Antarctic. The co-sponsor of the voyage, the Swedish pharmaceuticals millionaire Frederik Paulsen, was also on the submersible, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

In addition to the engineering challenge - which has been compared to the first moon landing - the dark depths of the Arctic waters are so mysterious that the Russian crew did not know what they would find. Vladimir Gruzdev, who accompanied Mr Chilingarov on Mir-1, mused before their dive: "What if we encounter Atlantis there? Nobody knows what is there. We must use the opportunity given to us 100 per cent." The operation was straight out of a Jules Verne story, with expectations that exotic underwater creatures would appear from the uncharted depths. But in a momentous anti-climax, the expedition's leader declared: "There is yellowish gravel down here. No creatures of the deep are visible."

While in the Arctic, until mid-September, the scientists will continue to study in detail the climate, geology and biology of the polar region. But the Russians had better watch their backs: the Danes hope to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Greenland, which is part of Denmark. Canadian and Danish scientists are currently on two icebreakers mapping the north polar sea.

And in a reminder of the Kremlin's aggressive use of its oil and gas wealth, the state-run Gazprom this week threatened to cut off gas to Belarus in a re-run of the economic bullying of Ukraine in 2006 that affected further supplies to Europe. Belarus owes Russia $460m for gas. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus's President, yielded to the demand yesterday, after being promised a little help by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. If Russia had carried out its threat, gas supplies to Germany and Poland would definitely have been at risk.


Gazprom says it hopes for major Arctic hydrocarbon discoveries


A Gazprom spokesman said Wednesday that the Russian energy giant expected "major new discoveries" of oil and gas reserves under the Arctic Ocean, and had large-scale prospecting plans for the region. Press secretary Sergei Kupriyanov discussed the company's plans in a radio interview, the day before a Russian exploration vessel is to send mini-submarines on the first-ever dive below the North Pole, a symbolic move as Russia attempts to claim a vast section of the Arctic.

The United States' geological survey data suggest the Arctic seabed contains up to 25% of the world's oil and natural gas reserves, and other mineral riches, made accessible by the retreating of the polar ice due to global warming.

Sergei Kupriyanov told Ekho Moskvy: "We have approved a program of work on the Arctic shelf, which includes a great deal of prospecting." The spokesman stressed the potential vastness of the Arctic shelf's reserves - the Shtokman field alone in the Barents Sea holds an estimated 3.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, he said. "This is more than we have supplied to Europe over the past 30 years. Less than 5% of the Arctic shelf has been explored, and we are sure that major new discoveries will follow," the official said.

Two Russian Mir mini-submarines are to dive 4,200 meters (14,000 feet) below the Pole in what is seen as a publicity stunt designed to prop up Russia's claim to 1.2 million sq kilometers (about 460,000 sq miles) of the territory - the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleyev Ridges - which Russia says is the continuation of its continental shelf and which is believed to contain mineral resources. The claim has been challenged by other countries. The UN has yet to rule on the claim. The area around the Pole is currently an international territory administered by the International Seabed Authority. Researchers in the Mir 1 and Mir 2 mini-subs will take soil and fauna samples on the ocean bed, leave a Russian flag and a message to future generations in a capsule, and establish a video link with the International Space Station.

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Postby Armenian on Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:28 am

Has anyone been following news coming out of Russia during the last several days? In particular, the news about the Russian Navy wanting to establish a permanent presence within the Mediterranean Sea will have serious geostrategic consequences. Simply stated, what's going on in the Russian Federation today is astounding. And notice that they have decided to flex their military muscles over the Arctic by conducting strategic bomber flights over the North Pole (see following news report). Does anyone here think they are not serious about "privatizing" the natural resources said to be located there? Nevertheless, all these news military exercises and deployments are an unmistakable message to the West - stay away.


Russia's strategic aviation to conduct 6 exercises in August


The Russian strategic aviation will fly over the North Pole and conduct test launches of cruise missiles during a series of exercises in August, the Defense Ministry said on its website Tuesday.

Units of the 37th Air Army of the Strategic Command will conduct a total of six tactical exercises in August as part of an annual training program, the ministry said in a statement. "During the exercises, strategic bombers will test launch cruise missiles, conduct simulated bombing raids, and fly over the North Pole, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans," the statement said. The exercises will involve Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear-H strategic bombers, and Tu-22M3 Backfire-C theater bombers - the mainstay of the air component of Russia's strategic nuclear triad. According to various sources, the Russian Air Force currently deploys 141 Tu-22M3 bombers, 40 Tu-95MS bombers, and 14 Tu-160 planes. Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov, the newly appointed chief of the Air Force Main Staff, said in March that Russia's strategic aviation had sufficient potential to suppress elements of a U.S. missile defense shield should it be deployed in Central Europe.


Russia's Navy gets ambitious


The Russian Navy will become the world's second largest in 20 years' time, said its commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir Masorin, speaking ahead of Navy Day. He said the navy's core would consist of the newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines and six squadrons of aircraft carriers. For Russia's navy, this will be its third modernization program, said the admiral. The previous two, although giving it a boost, were never completed. Now, said the admiral, there is such a chance. Recently approved, a rearmament program until 2015 for the first time in Soviet and Russian history puts the development of the navy on an equal footing with strategic nuclear forces. Out of 4.9 trillion rubles ($192.16 billion) allocated for military rearmament, 25% will go into building new ships. "We are already building practically as many ships as we did in Soviet times," First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Severodvinsk. "The problem now is not lack of money, but how to optimize production so that the navy can get new ships three, not five, years after laying them down."


Of special note are plans to build six aircraft carriers, which would make the Russian Navy the world second in terms of combat capability. The government program, however, does not provide for their construction before 2015. Nor is there mention of them in plans for the period until 2030. But during his recent trip to Severodvinsk, Ivanov was shown plans for a new $500 million dock designed to build large-tonnage ships at the Zvyozdochka ship repair yard. Earlier such large ships could only be built in Nikolayev, Ukraine. The dock, the Russian shipbuilding agency said, is needed to build gas carriers - ships to transport Russian liquefied natural gas to Western partners.

The same dock could also build aircraft carriers. At any rate, the project is already on the drawing board. Masorin said the craft would be a nuclear-powered ship not less than 100 meters long and would carry an air wing of 30 combat fighter jets and helicopters. But this is not going to be soon. The outlook is best for submarines. Recently two Project 667BDRM boats have been modernized, and two more submarines are being repaired and upgraded at Severodvinsk. A new sonar system is being installed to enable them to "see" and "hear" better. Other equipment includes new fire fighting systems, nuclear reactor protection devices, and the RSM-54 Sineva strategic missile system. Unlike its predecessor, the Skif, the Sineva carries 10 independently targetable re-entry vehicles instead of four. The new missile has a longer range and a modern control system.


But modernization of existing vessels is only part of the rebuilding program. The Sevmash engineering plant at Severodvinsk is currently building a series of new fourth-generation submarines. These are Project 955 Borei boats. It is for them that the new Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile is being developed.

"Three nuclear submarines of the fourth generation are currently under construction," Masorin said. "They are the Yury Dolgoruky, Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh. In comparison with previous boats, they will have much better armaments and equipment."

A Project 885 Yasen-class multi-purpose attack nuclear-powered submarine is preparing to hit the water at Severodvinsk. It is another new fourth-generation submarine able to replace several classes of submarines used in the Russian Navy. Professionals say this ship will cause a revolution in submarine building. Russia's third-generation Project 971 Akula submarines are already undetectable in ocean depths. The Yasen will outperform even the latest American Sea Wolf in the underwater noise level. In addition, it will be a multi-purpose boat. Thanks to its armaments (several types of cruise missiles and torpedoes), it will be able to carry out diverse missions. It will be able with equal ease to chase enemy aircraft carriers and deliver massive missile strikes on coastal targets.

Experts believe the new nuclear submarines and "floating airfields" will mean a quantum leap for the Russian Navy and its combat capabilities.


Russia begins large-scale military exercises in North Caucasus


Russia begins large-scale military exercises in North Caucasus Russia began Monday large-scale military exercises in five regions of the North Caucasus, involving at least 8,000 personnel, an aide to the commander of the North Caucasus military district said Tuesday.

The exercise involves units of the North Caucasus Military District, the 4th Air Force Army, Interior Ministry troops, border guards, and the Caspian Flotilla. "The total number of personnel involved in the command-and-staff exercise is over 8,000," Andrei Bobrun said. The main goal of the exercise is to practice interoperability between federal troops, interior ministry's troops, border guards, the Air Force and the Navy in special operations against militants and the defense of Russia's state borders. The exercise, which involves at least 350 combat vehicles and aircraft, will be conducted until August 9 on the territory of North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Daghestan, the Chechen Republic, and the Stavropol Territory. Air Force spokesman Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky earlier said aircraft and helicopters would practice reconnaissance, lock-on and destruction of air and ground targets. Although the active phase of the antiterrorism campaign in Russia's troubled North Caucasus region officially ended in 2001, periodic bombings and clashes between militants and federal troops still disrupt Chechnya and nearby regions, including Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachayevo-Circassia.


Strategic Missile Forces to conduct over 100 exercises in fall


The Strategic Missile Forces will conduct more than 100 exercises this summer and fall, the SMF press service said Friday. Part of the exercises will include rehearsing command and control operations involving the mobile Topol-M ICBM complex.

The SMF commander said last month Russia will commission three Topol-M ICBMs this year. "By the end of the year we will arm another missile battalion with advanced Topol-M ICBMs at the Teikovo missile base, Ivanovo Region," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said. Gen. Solovtsov said earlier the deployment of silo-based Topol-M systems in the Saratov Region and road-mobile systems in the Ivanovo Region (central Russia) would be completed in 2010. As of December 2006, the Strategic Missile Forces operated 44 silo-based and three mobile missiles. The SMF press service said that, while 48 silo-based systems would be on duty by late 2007, the Teikovo base is shifting to cutting-edge road-mobile missiles.


Russia to equip two air regiments with Su-34 strike planes soon


Two regiments of the 16th Air Army will be equipped with new Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers in the near future, the army commander said Thursday. Designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the Su-34s will replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers. Experts said the new bomber has the potential to become the best plane in its class for years to come. "The schedule for re-equipment of air regiments [in the Russian Air Force] with new and modernized aircraft has been determined," Major General Alexander Belevitch said. "Two of our air regiments will be re-armed soon."

The $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft equipped with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbojet engines. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and fields weaponry that includes a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs. The first serial-production Su-34 has been procured by the Defense Ministry and will soon be deployed at the Lipetsk pilot training center for practical training of military pilots. General Belevitch said the 16th Air Army would also receive MiG-29SM Fulcrum fighters to replace outdated MiG-29s and modernized Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft, which showed outstanding performance during operations in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other "hot spots."

The 16th Air Army, headquartered at Kubinka, is essentially a tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District, with zone of responsibility of up to 1.3 million square kilometers, including the country's capital, Moscow.


Russia aims to increase number of submarines in Black Sea Fleet -1


Russia would like to increase the number of submarines in its Black Sea Fleet, but has so far been held back by Ukraine, Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin said.

"In the future Russia's Black Sea Fleet [based in Ukraine's Crimea] should have a brigade consisting of 12-15 diesel submarines," Masorin said. The fleet currently has two diesel subs. "We have been asking Ukraine to transfer a sub from the Northern Fleet to the Black Sea Fleet, but we have yet to resolve the issue," he said. Masorin said in July that the construction of a new base for the Black Sea Fleet at the Russian port of Novorossiisk would be completed by 2012.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in 2003 setting up the alternative naval base for the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiisk, after Ukraine demanded the base in Sevastopol, Crimea, be withdrawn by 2017. The commander said that in Soviet times, there were about 60 diesel subs in the Black Sea Fleet. "There is no longer any need for such a number," he said. Masorin said the construction of a third diesel sub named Sevastopol, from the Lada family, had recently been started. He also said the Black Sea Fleet would receive two new ships this year - The Admiral Zakharyin minesweeper and a Serna air-cavity landing craft.

Kiev has been pushing for the withdrawal of Russia's naval base in Sevastopol by 2017, in compliance with a previous bilateral agreement. Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in 1997 stipulating that the Black Sea Fleet's main base in Sevastopol be leased to Russia for 20 years, with the possibility of extending the term. The annual rent of about $100 million is deducted from Ukraine's debt for Russian energy supplies. In addition to the main base, the Black Sea Fleet maintains two airfields and a ship re-supply facility on the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said in July the current rent could be increased in the future.


Russia's Navy must restore presence in Mediterranean - commander


Russia must restore its permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean to ensure the protection of its strategic interests in the region, the Navy commander said Friday. "The Mediterranean is an important theater of operations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said, adding that the fleet's zone of control extended through the Black and Mediterranean seas toward the Atlantic Ocean. "We must restore a permanent presence of the Russian Navy in this region," the Navy commander said.

He called for closer cooperation with Ukraine, where the bulk of the Black Sea Fleet is currently based, and Turkey, which is an important regional leader. Russia is part of the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor), which also includes Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Georgia. Formally established on Turkey's initiative in 2001, Blackseafor conducts search and rescue operations, and environmental monitoring, and organizes goodwill visits among Black Sea countries.

In addition, Russia actively participates in the NATO-led antiterrorism operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean. The country will send a frigate in September 2007 to join the NATO naval task force in the Eastern Mediterranean, the admiral said. Igor Dygalo, aide to the Navy commander, said commenting on Masorin's words, that Russia has no future plans to create groups or units of combat ships in the Mediterranean Sea like during the Cold War.

He added that the regular presence of Russian ships and submarines from the North, Baltic, and Black Sea Fleets in the Mediterranean Sea is "intended to outline Russia's foreign policy interests." Masorin said the presence of the Russian Navy in the region is crucial for the protection of energy supply routes via the Blue Stream gas pipeline and the proposed Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

Addressing the controversial issue of the Black Sea Fleet's base in Sevastopol in Ukraine, the Navy commander said Moscow and Kiev must respect the fundamental agreements on the base lease without any revisions. Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in 1997 stipulating that the Black Sea Fleet's main base in Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, be leased to Russia for 20 years, with the possibility of extending the term.

The annual rent of about $100 million is deducted from Ukraine's debt for Russian energy supplies. In addition to the main base, the Black Sea Fleet maintains two airfields and a ship re-supply facility on the Crimean Peninsula. He also said Ukraine should not worry about Russia's plans to reinforce its Black Sea Fleet, but should rather look for ways to expand naval cooperation with Moscow.

"The Russian and Ukrainian Navies could successfully cooperate in combat training, naval exercises and international operations," Masorin said. As an alternative to the Sevastopol base, which the Black Sea Fleet has to abandon by 2017, Russia has started construction of a naval base in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

"Over 40 billion rubles [over $1.5 billion] have been allocated to the construction of a Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiisk before 2020 under a federal target program," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said.


Russia deployed over 30 new types of weaponry in Jan.-June 2007 -1


The Russian Armed Forces commissioned more than 30 new types of advanced weapon systems in the first half of 2007, the defense minister said Friday. "Thirty-six types of modern weaponry were deployed with the Armed Forces in the first half of 2007," Anatoly Serdyukov said.

The minister said these weapon systems included the submarine-launched R-29RM Sineva ballistic missiles, the S-400 Triumf air defense complex, and the 120-mm Nona SM-1 towed mortar for Ground Forces. The R-29RM Sineva (NATO codename SS-N-23) was designed for use by the Russian Delta IV class submarines, each of which is capable of carrying 16 missiles. It carries four nuclear warheads and has a range of about 8,500 kilometers.

Serdyukov also said Russia has successfully conducted test launches of the Yarts land-based ballistic missile, the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile and the X-102 airborne missile. "We have entered the final testing stage for the entire missile triad," he said. In addition, Russia successfully tested a new version of the Iskander-M ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads and launched two military reconnaissance and communication satellites, the defense minister said.

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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:28 pm

After claiming the Pole, Russia looks south (to the Mediterranean Sea)


Russia stirred memories of the Cold War yesterday when the country's senior admiral called for the establishment of a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean for the first time since the Soviet era. Coming a day after an audacious mission to the North Pole to bolster Russia's territorial claims in the Arctic, Moscow's renewed naval ambitions are likely to spread further unease in Nato capitals. "The Mediterranean Sea is very important strategically," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said on a tour of the Russian navy's Black Sea base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. "I propose that, with the involvement of the Northern and Baltic Fleets, the Russian navy should restore its permanent presence there."

His remarks raise doubts about the Kremlin's denial last year of a newspaper claim that new moorings were being built in the Syrian port of Tartus. Michael McDowell alights from the Mir-2 minisub after performing a record dive at the North Pole. According to Ivan Safronov, the journalist who died after mysteriously falling from a building in Moscow this year, Russia had also begun to expand the port at Latakia, also in Syria. President Vladimir Putin has been anxious to restore Moscow's influence in the Middle East, signing controversial arms deals with both Syria and Iran that have upset the United States and Israel.

If the port plan were to go ahead, Russian vessels and warships from the US Sixth Fleet, based in Italy, would face one another in the Mediterranean for the first time since the Cold War when the Soviet navy was based in Tartus. Russia maintains a symbolic and largely empty logistical facility at Tartus - its only military base outside the former Soviet Union.

Washington will be watching both developments with concern.

Yesterday it bluntly warned Moscow that any attempt to claim sovereignty over the Arctic would not be tolerated after Russia planted its national flag under the North Pole on Thursday. "I'm not sure whether they've put a metal flag, a rubber flag or a bed sheet on the ocean floor," said Tom Casey, a spokesman for the State Department. "Either way it doesn't have any legal standing."

In a record-breaking expedition led by Artur Chilingarov, a veteran polar explorer, two deep-sea submersibles descended 14,000 feet. More used to submarine disasters than unprecedented maritime feats, the successful operation was greeted with jubilation in Russia where it stirred up memories of derring do from the golden era of Soviet naval exploration. Like other countries with Arctic coastlines, Russia has laid claims for greater territory in the oil-rich area and will present its case to a UN commission in 2010. Information appearing on is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence.


Russian Base in Syria, a Symmetrical Strategic Move

Satellite image of Syrian Naval Base at Tartus showing landing crafts and fast missile boats.

Russian military officials have consistently denied reports that Russia is creating a permanent naval base in Tartus, Syria that would give it a Mediterranean outpost and represent a major shift in the regional security balance of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Levant, and the Middle East as a whole. Reports were emerging long before the Israeli attacks on Lebanon that Russia had begun work on deepening the Syrian maritime port of Tartus, used by the Soviet Union and later Russia as a supply point since the Cold War, and widening a channel in Latakia, another Syrian port. Both Tartus and Latakia are significant for both Syria and Russia in that they face the outlet of the Ceyhan end—the receiving end—of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil terminal giving Russia and its partners the ability to disrupt or secure the port and route during the possibility of the eruption of any future war(s) with the United States.

The establishment of this Russian project has been presented as an alternative hub for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, in the Ukraine, but this seems to be undermined by upgrading and expansion of the Russian naval port of Novorossysk off the eastern margins of the Black Sea. The creation or expansion of naval or military bases off the Syrian coast and Russian coast off the Black Sea seem to imply the future employment of two different forces with different applications for the national and security interests of Russia.

The Russian expansion of the Tartus would include the installation of an air defence system with S-300 PMU2 Favourite ballistic missile system that would be a virtual threat to the Ceyhan, maritime traffic, the flow of oil, and would provide an air defence shield for vital portions of Syria that are strategically important, especially in the event of a war. In essence Damascus, the Syrian capital, and Syria would be protected from either Israeli or American aerial bombardment. It is clear that the Russian aims in Syria are a symmetrical reaction to American objectives for the Middle East and part of a global chess game.


Russia building naval base in Syria - report

Russian magazine reports Moscow planning to turn Syrian port into permanent naval base; Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson denies report
Vera Yadidya Russian magazine Kommersant reported Friday that the Russian army is laying the groundwork for building the Syrian port of Tartus, in the north of the country. Russia maintained a base in the port since the days of the Soviet Union, the report said, adding that Moscow could be planning to turn the port into a naval base where ships withdrawn from Sevastopol in Ukraine can anchor. Vladimir Zimin, a senior economic advisor at the Russian Embassy in Damascus, confirmed the plans to the magazine. The move was said to be part of Russia's effort to boost its influence in the Middle East and safeguard Syria.

”As an official at Russian naval headquarters explained, the creation in Tartus of a fully fledged naval base should help Russia redeploy the naval and supply ships leaving Sevastopol,” Kommersant said. Russian military engineers will install an air defense system with S-300PMU-2 Favorit ballistic missiles at the port to protect Russian naval ships, the magazine reported. ”For the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia will create its own military base outside former Soviet borders, which will allow Moscow to conduct its own political game in the Middle East,” the newspaper added. The Russian Defense Ministry categorically denied the report, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

"This is an absolutely false report that has no foundation whatsoever," Defense Ministry spokesperson Vyacheslav Sedov told Novosti. Russia has also agreed to upgrade Syria's aerial defense systems, which Moscow supplied in 2005, and its fleet of 1,000 T-72 tanks. Syria is also trying to convince Moscow to sell it two submarines and to upgrade its fleet of MiG 29 fighter jets, the magazine added.

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Postby Armanen on Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:06 pm

Russia is just everywhere, great news! It's amazing how the zionist controlled media doesn't even make an attempt to report any of this, yet it doesn't suprise me at all.

By the way, it's about time that Russia got a new Black Sea station, the government of ukraine has been a very bad partner for Russia, the sooner a new base is built on Russian soil, the better.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Postby Armanen on Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:57 pm


03.08.2007 14:27 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Conditionally speaking, Russia's stance in the
Nagorno Karabakh conflict may be viewed in 60-40 correlation, which
means that Moscow supports Yerevan more, Russian politician and member
of the RF Public Chamber Sergey Markov stated. Simultaneously Russia
tries to keep the status quo -not to break the reached positives. "If
we plunge this region into a full-scale war, everybody will suffer
from it. The Russian Federation realizes this danger. Moscow builds his
whole policy proceeding from the following principle -the main thing is
not to harm. So, Azerbaijan is mistaken by considering Russia's stance
in this issue as pro-Armenian. Of course, Russia listens to Armenia
more attentively, since Yerevan participates in projects initiated
by RF, for example, the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).

And Azerbaijan does just the opposite by drawing into an anti-Russian
project, GUAM. Baku pushes Russia making him support Armenia more,
in 70-30 correlation," he underlined.

At the same time Sergey Markov said Russia will not change anything in
his stance on Karabakh yet. He added, gradually as far as Azerbaijan's
economic growth continues and the gap between Baku and Yerevan becomes
larger the Azeri authorities will fall under temptation to go to
the forceful solution of the Karabakh conflict and will make such an
attempt. "So, war is quite possible in the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

We do not know yet how the problem will be resolved and what the
result will be. At least we see that Azerbaijan's economic predominance
over Armenia constantly increases and after some time it will become
tremendous. Though, from the other hand Armenians continue to assure
that they know how to fight and will always be head and shoulders
above. In any case, I think after Azerbaijan accumulates enough
resources, some politicians will occur who would like to use those
resources to settle the issue forcefully.

Moscow's stance will depend on Russia's relations with Azerbaijan
and Armenia at the moment," the Russian political scientist stated.

Answering the question if it is possible to say that Armenia can
rely on Russia's assistance in any case, Sergey Markov underscored,
"It is difficult to say yet. Azerbaijan has not fallen into the pit
of anti-Russian forces," Baku based "Echo" newspaper reports.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Location: Arnor

Postby Armenian on Sun Aug 05, 2007 1:20 am

Araz Azimov: Russia should see armed Armenia disadvantageous


Russia’s relations with Armenia are in the level of military alliance. These states pursue joint policy in the field of defense or military cooperation. Their debates on arming policy of Armenia are not ruled out in the framework of this cooperation, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told the journalists, APA reports. He said that fact on Russia’s arming Armenia can be unpleasant. “Russia should realize that future of this policy will not be positive,” he said. Mr. Azimov also underlined that Azerbaijan will also pay attention to the arming of Armenia. “Fewer states or companies will sell arm to Armenia. Therefore Armenia will need help of Russia. And in this case Russia should adopt sound decision. If Russia wants to take measures on the peaceful solution to the conflict, it should put an end to arming policy. Otherwise next stage of the crisis can start,” he said.


Crossfire War - Turkey Continues Undeclared War With Armenia - Russia

Night Watch: DARDANELLES - An undeclared war, conducted for more than a century, between Turkey and Armenia is still continuing. ANK-Turkish Daily News have reported Ankara has refused permission for an Albanian cargo ship to pass through the Turkish Straits of the Dardanelles and Bosporous into the Black Sea with its final destination being Armenia. The ship was loaded with weapons for the Armenian military and was forced to turn back. Most likely the weapons will have to shipped to Armenia through Russia, which earlier this year established a strategic - military alliance with Armenia as Moscow's and the West's effort to retain access to the energy resources of the Black Sea-Caucasus-Caspian region.

Ankara has combined its regional policy with Tehran and the Georgian government in Tbilisi in their attempt to control the region and that is why this theatre is the decisive one in World War III. This is the only area Iran can be confronted so directly. Even though every NATO nation needs constant access to raw materials in this area, NATO refused to assist Moscow in any way during the first wars in the North Caucasus from 1994-96 in Chechnya, and in the second series of wars that began again in 1999 when Daghestan was invaded. NATO's failure, due to its suspicious strategic scheming, has prolonged World War III and has enabled Tehran to produce more nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. Brussels, headquarters of both NATO and the European Union, instead kept insisting and still insists on wars with Serbia.


Sergey Markov: War is quite possible in Nagorno Karabakh issue

Conditionally speaking, Russia’s stance in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict may be viewed in 60-40 correlation, which means that Moscow supports Yerevan more, Russian politician and member of the RF Public Chamber Sergey Markov stated. Simultaneously Russia tries to keep the status quo –not to break the reached positives. “If we plunge this region into a full-scale war, everybody will suffer from it. The Russian Federation realizes this danger. Moscow builds his whole policy proceeding from the following principle –the main thing is not to harm. So, Azerbaijan is mistaken by considering Russia’s stance in this issue as pro-Armenian. Of course, Russia listens to Armenia more attentively, since Yerevan participates in projects initiated by RF, for example, the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization). And Azerbaijan does just the opposite by drawing into an anti-Russian project, GUAM. Baku pushes Russia making him support Armenia more, in 70-30 correlation,” he underlined.

At the same time Sergey Markov said Russia will not change anything in his stance on Karabakh yet. He added, gradually as far as Azerbaijan’s economic growth continues and the gap between Baku and Yerevan becomes larger the Azeri authorities will fall under temptation to go to the forceful solution of the Karabakh conflict and will make such an attempt. “So, war is quite possible in the Nagorno Karabakh issue. We do not know yet how the problem will be resolved and what the result will be. At least we see that Azerbaijan’s economic predominance over Armenia constantly increases and after some time it will become tremendous. Though, from the other hand Armenians continue to assure that they know how to fight and will always be head and shoulders above. In any case, I think after Azerbaijan accumulates enough resources, some politicians will occur who would like to use those resources to settle the issue forcefully. Moscow’s stance will depend on Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia at the moment,” the Russian political scientist stated.

Answering the question if it is possible to say that Armenia can rely on Russia’s assistance in any case, Sergey Markov underscored, “It is difficult to say yet. Azerbaijan has not fallen into the pit of anti-Russian forces,” Baku based “Echo” newspaper reports.

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Postby Armanen on Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:37 am

Pro-Kremlin analyst examines Russia's efforts to assert itself in
global affairs

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow
26 Jul 07

[Interview with Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika
Foundation, conducted by Yelena Kalyadina in Moscow; date not given:
"Russia and the West: How To Arrange the World"]

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Belarus is Russia's natural ally.

Russia is more and more conclusively acquiring confidence in itself.
The initiatives of the Russian president advanced in an extremely short
period of time - the Munich speech, his addresses at the German G8
summit meeting and the St Petersburg Economic Forum, and finally his
proposals during the meeting with his American colleague in
Kennebunkport - permit us to draw the conclusion that based on the new
realities, Russia is proposing to arrange the world in a new way -
fairly and to mutual advantage. The SOYuZ correspondent talks with
Vyacheslav Nikonov, the well-known Russian political analyst and
president of the Politika [Politics] Foundation, about the possible
reaction to the current Russian international "quick march."

[Nikonov] A change produced by dissatisfaction with how Russia's
relations with the West are taking shape is indeed evident in Russia's
policies. We are now looking at a very broad circle of questions very
differently. This problem is fundamental and long term. In order to
present it, I will give a little history. After the dissolution of the
Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, illusions appeared that we
would rapidly find ourselves in a non-confrontational world where
Russia would be a member of the Western club. But that did not happen.
For the West expectations that Russia would rapidly be transformed into
a Western country with an economy that could be penetrated from the
outside did not prove to be true. And Russia was mistaken in its
expectations of help in joining the Western club. It was treated like a
conquered power - on the principle "winner takes all." The Americans
took one step after another that were in full agreement with their
national interests but did not always agree with ours. They demanded
that we support them - otherwise we were threatened with a complete

Finally in the Kremlin they decided: that's enough! Vladimir Putin's
speech in Munich followed. At our president's meeting with his American
colleague in Kennebunkport, the following thought was heard: now no one
is pretending any longer - everything is being called by its true name.
If the Americans are going to create a European missile defence system,
Russia will continue to build up its own nuclear triad.

It is possible to step back and meet halfway. But up to a certain
point. In politics this limit is marked by the concept of the "red
line" that must not be crossed: otherwise the existence of the country
comes under threat. That is exactly the kind of threat that the idea of
creating a missile defence system around Russia is. So we intend to
take a firm position.

[Kalyadina] Russia is displaying just as unwavering firmness on the
problem of the status of Kosovo too. Should it [Russia], in a situation
that is fundamental to its very existence, really spend its efforts on
resolving a complex problem in a region where it has clearly
surrendered its position to the United States?

[Nikonov] The problem of Kosovo is creating a new international legal
precedent in a most delicate sphere - a state's territorial integrity.
Contemporary international law envisions the possibility of separating
off some part of a state's territory only with the agreement of all the
parties to the conflict. But now a precedent is being created where a
country can be divided without the consent of its subjects. Western
diplomats are trying to prove to Russia that separating Kosovo from
Serbia is not a precedent but an isolated case. All right, they may
persuade Russia. But how will they persuade the Ossetians, Abkhazians,
Armenians in Nagornyy Karabakh, and the people in the Trans-Dniester
Region? After all, their position in no way differs from the position
of the people of Kosovo. And then we have a chain reaction situation.
Suffice it to say that there are more than 30 separatist territories in
the world today. And it is obvious that any such conflict raises the
danger of the use of force.

[Kalyadina] In conditions where the parties take mutually exclusive
positions on an issue of international security, many political
analysts have started talking about a new "cold war."

[Nikonov] There is no "cold war." A "cold war" is a definite concept
that indicates a bipolar confrontation between two world systems that
are waging a battle to destroy the other at every point on the globe.
There is no such bipolarity now. Don't confuse "cold war" with
problematic relations. After all, the West has always pictured Russia
as a dark authoritarian dictatorship and an imperialist aggressor.
There were only two times in history when the West applauded us: from
February into April 1917, and from August into December 1991 - first
when the Russian empire, and then later the Soviet empire were

Russia does not consider either the United States or the West overall
its enemies. But at the same time, it is positioning itself as an
independent centre of strength in the contemporary world. China and
rising India should undoubtedly be considered independent centres of
strength in the contemporary world. Perhaps Japan and Brazil too. In
this situation we are not a super-power. But we undoubtedly are one of
the great powers from all points of view.

[Kalyadina] What are the objective grounds that Russia has to be
considered an independent centre of strength?

[Nikonov] First, the territorial factor. And what is important here is
not just size. Russia is not only the largest Eurasian power in the
world, but the only Euro-Pacific Ocean power. That is probably its
special geopolitical role. Economically we are no longer an Upper Volta
with missiles, as we were once called. We are the ninth largest economy
in the world. The predictions of both domestic and foreign specialists
are optimistic: by 2020 Russian GDP will be the fifth largest on the
planet, behind only the indicators of China, the United States, India,
and Japan. An energy superpower is not a concept of development but a
fact of life. We are a leading nuclear power, which is an absolute
guarantee of security.

Something else that is extremely important thing and distinguishes
Russia from the other powers is that we have preserved the important
resource of our historical heritage. With all the revolutionary
changes, its historical matrix was reproduced.

[Kalyadina] Although in fact we are both a Eurasian and a Euro-Pacific
Ocean power, our practical place in the world today is determined
mainly by the state of relations with Europe and the United States. How
will the configuration of this triangle change, in your view?

[Nikonov] At this point Russia more likely appears as a passive country
in this triangle. The European Union is occupied with its own internal
problems associated with "digesting" new members and problems of
relations with America. And the United States is making vigorous
efforts to move Europe away from Russia.

[Kalyadina] So if the European Union is absorbed with internal family
problems and is being subjected to American pressure, should Russia
perhaps concentrate on bilateral European routes?

[Nikonov] Russia will cooperate with both the European Union and with
individual countries. Of course, the European Union as a whole has
become a difficult partner today. It is not an easy thing for the 27
states with different levels of economic and political development that
are members of it to reach a consensus. So if a common position is
worked out, it as a rule turns out to be set in concrete. Dealing with
an inflexible partner is very complicated. And our relations with
unified Europe will not be very simple. But the fact is that 53 per
cent of our territory is in Europe.

[Kalyadina] How tangible are the outlines of the Russia-China-India
triangle that people have often been talking about recently?

[Nikonov] In the mid-18th century, China accounted for more than a
third of the world's GDP, while India accounted for roughly a quarter.
Now everything is moving towards both countries returning to those
positions. China, which a particular well-known political analyst said
is a "civilization pretending to be a state," has every chance of
becoming the most important centre of strength. India is also close to

While we used to put Russia at the head of this triangle, claiming the
role of leader is difficult for it today. We are not in any way a
significant economic partner for either China or India. We are not a
serious factor in the internal politics of these states. But overall
Russia's relations both with China and with India are at a very high
mark now. So the triangle's prospects will directly depend on Russia's

[Kalyadina] In singling out the independent centres of strength, the
Russian leadership is always emphasizing that they are ready to develop
partnership relations with all countries. But even so what are our
partnership priorities?

[Nikonov] Above all the CIS, or to be more specific - the nucleus of it
- the Eurasian Economic Union and the ODKB [Collective Security Treaty
Organization]. It is important that a common economic space begin to be
created: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia,
and Uzbekistan.

[Kalyadina] One more triangle can be seen in Russia's relations with
the post-Soviet states. One angle is Ukraine and Georgia, which are
actively being pulled into the Euro-Atlantic orbit. The second is
Belarus, which is building the Union State with Russia, and so "as a
sign of protest" is being run down by the West. The basis of this
relationship is those same old geopolitical interests. After all,
Belarus is the missing element of the Euro-Atlantic "mosaic" laid out
from the Baltics to the Black Sea.

[Nikonov] Undoubtedly Belarus' aspirations to join Russia irritate the
West. At the same time, the Belarusian leadership itself has recently
been trying to grow a second - Western - wing of its politics. At this
point I do not see the prerequisites for success here.

[Kalyadina] The West, of course, would like to offer Belarus an
"angle," but on condition that all the institutions of power there are
reshaped based on its models. Doesn't the recent resolution of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE [Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe], which demanded that the Belarusian government
participate in the international conference on the situation in their
own country, attest to that?

[Nikonov] Undoubtedly that is an attempt to invite Belarus to a
European tribunal in order to have more influence on Belarusian
domestic policies and to support the opposition. Up to this point, the
policy followed by the West (either Belarus changes its government or
it is an outcast) has been a dead end.

[Kalyadina] But using the example of the former Yugoslavia, we know the
risk that declaring a country an "outcast" runs.

[Nikonov] After Ukraine the policy of replacing regimes cannot boast of
any successes. It failed in the previous presidential election in
Belarus too.

[Kalyadina] What steps should Russia take in this situation?

[Nikonov] Above all to proceed from the given that Belarus is its
natural ally. The difference between Russians and Belarusians is
substantially less than between West and East Germans or northern and
southern Japanese. So the Union State can be an absolutely realistic

[Kalyadina] What must be done to accomplish that?

[Nikonov] Build the institutions of the Union. Serious steps are needed
to smooth out the differences in economic legislation and to develop
mutual investments. Well then too, of course, the question of the
optimal structure of the state that would fully suit both sides must be
resolved. And time and the political will are needed for all that.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:39 am

A few comments about Russian-Armenians compared to American-Armenians - a group I happen to be a part of, a group I know well)

I have posted an interesting article below that dates from several years back. The article in question highlights several prominent Russian Armenians including Artur Chilingarov who recently received a lot of media coverage due to his historic expedition to the seabed underneath the North Pole. Reading the article in question I felt compelled to make a few comments.

Although most Diasporan Armenians have less than good convictions regarding Armenians in Russia (and Armenian from the Caucasus as well for that matter, but that's another story), I, on the other hand, have always had great respect for Russian Armenians and Armenians from the Caucasus region in general. Comparatively speaking, generally speaking, they are the most educated, most progressive, most talented, most warlike people within our nation.

Although many are Russified and don't speak Armenian well, many do posses an inner Armenian pride that is seldom seen elsewhere. I mean they have organic pride in the nation, in the history, in the culture, in the capabilities of our collective nation. Armenians from that part of the world tend to express their pride for Armenia by recanting stories about our numerous war heroes (ancient and modern), our intellectuals, our scientists, our artists, etc. This inner pride was clearly revealed during the worst years of the Artsakh conflict when tens of thousands of volunteers from the Armenian Republic and from other areas of the former Soviet republics converged onto Artsakh to save it from impending doom. In comparison, besides a couple of hundred hard-line Dashanks from Lebanon and Syria what did the Armenian Diaspora of the West do?

What they did was the only thing they know how to do - They were crying at the feet of the majors powers and begging for mercy.

Like I said, the notion of Armenian pride for those people in and around the Caucasus is organic, its an integral part of their being, even if they don't speak Armenian well, even if they don't live in the Armenian Republic. Whereas Armenian pride in a place like the United States is based upon a victims mentality and not much else. Sadly, Armenian nationalism within much of the Disapora is only expressed by perennially crying about the Armenian Genocide at the feet of the powers that be and repeating over and over and over again that Armenians were the first Christians - as if anyone cares.

For most proud Amerikahais their Armenian identity is like a favorite shirt they wear on weekends. Armenian "pride" for Americahais is eating Luleh kabobs in Church picnics and listening to Turkish music disguised as Western Armenian folk. In other words, Armenian pride here in the states is pathetically shallow bordering on absurd.

Incidentally, a comment about their statements below about the Church. Although most Russians and Armenians in the region are not believers in organized religion per say, they do, however, tend to be more spiritual and they do have great respect for the national Church and its role within society. I think this attitude partially stems from the fact that it is popular knowledge for those folk just how much the Orthodox Church suffered at the hands of the Bolsheviks. Most people fail to realize that Orthodox Christian Russian Slavs of the region suffered by far the greatest at the hands of the Bolsheviks.



Moscow by David Zenian

The rules of engagement in Russian politics have changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago, but Arthur Chilingarov has climbed the political ladder to hold the position of Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, the 450-member lower house of the Russian Parliament. Sahak Karapetyan also entered politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union and like Chilingarov, he too was elected to the Duma and served for four years before his appointment to his new position as Senior Assistant to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. Lt. Gen. Yevgeni Gurgenovich Batalov may have stayed in active duty if not for his advanced age of 76.

All three men are Russian born Armenians who have integrated into Russian society and served their country while maintaining their ethnic identity and adapting to the changes around them. “I don’t look at my Armenian roots from a narrow perspective,” explained Chilingarov during a recent interview in his Moscow office. “I am a Russian-Armenian and Russia is my country, just like the United States is for American-Armenians. I will serve both as best as I can,” he said.

Chilingarov was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1939 and grew up in an Armenian family, but he had few Armenian friends. “I might have had more Armenian friends and interaction with fellow Armenians if we had a working church in St. Petersburg, but things were different then,” he said. Chilingarov, who accompanied President Putin during a visit to Armenia last year, admits that maybe he is not a very religious person, but is quick to add that the church should have a prominent place in modern society.

“I visit Armenia at least once a year and have very close relations with His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II. I am convinced that the stronger the Armenian Church becomes, the stronger will relations between Armenia and Russia become too. “The Russian church is a very powerful institution and has a say in what happens here. The same should be true with the Armenian church,” Chilingarov said.

“Russian politics is unique. Despite the large size of the Armenian population in Russia, they cannot have any political clout—not for a long time anyway. But a strong Armenian Church is a different matter. There is respect for the church here,” he said. A 1963 graduate of the Arctic Faculty of the Leningrad Marine Institute with a degree in engineering-oceanography, Chilingarov began his career at the Tiksi Observatory of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

Despite his busy schedule as a politician, Chilingarov, who has spent the better part of his adult life on the icebergs of the Arctic and is the author of 50 scientific publications, still finds time for his science and research. During his long career, he has been awarded the Order of Lenin, Hero of the Soviet Union medal, and membership in the Russian Academy of Sciences, and since 1992 assumed the presidency of the Polar Explorers’ Association.

He entered politics “from the back door”—or at least not as a representative of any political party. His work as a scientist had kept him in Russia’s Ninens Autonomous District, some 1,600 kilometers northeast of Moscow, close to the North Pole. According to the Russian constitution, the region was entitled to one deputy to represent it in the Russian Duma, and the choice was Chilingarov. He was elected with an overwhelming majority and upon arrival in Moscow he campaigned and was elected to the prestigious post of deputy Chairman of the State Duma—a position, which he still holds.

“It’s been almost 40 years since my first Arctic experience, and it is still my first love. Politics is a career, but the Arctic is my passion,” he said with a broad smile pointing at the dozens of momentos from his numerous expeditions, including his last one to the South Pole in January, 2002. Chilingarov was the first Armenian to reach the South Pole with a team of scientists who flew on a modified Antonov III aircraft piloted by Ukrainian-born Sergei Tarasuk, whose mother is Armenian.

“As much as I was part of a Russian expedition, I was still an Armenian there. My colleagues found it very amusing when I put up a wooden marker with the distances from where we were to the cities representing the origins of team members. “The marker, which is still there, clearly says Yerevan, 16,116 kilometers. Of course it also gives the distances from Moscow and Kiev, and St. Petersburg, my birthplace.

“I also took a bottle of Armenian brandy with me as a gift to the American team which was also involved in the expedition,” Chilingarov said with a huge smile on his face. As an Armenian, I cannot celebrate an important occasion without some Armenian brandy,” he said. Chilingarov may be the most visible Armenian in Russian politics today, but by far not the only one. Sahak Karapetyan’s route into politics was different. The old communist world was vanishing and a new breed of politicians was moving in when Karapetyan, who is now 42 years old, joined the “Yabloco” (which means apple in Russian) liberal democrat party in his native Rostov in southern Russia.

Unlike many in his generation he had tried to join the communist party, but was turned down because “they considered me too liberal, too much of a black sheep, a nationalist.” A graduate of the Rostov Law school, Karapetyan was elected and served in the Duma for four years after practicing law and holding several positions in the public prosecutor’s office. When his term expired, he was offered his old job back in Rostov, but decided to stay in Moscow because of family commitment.

“My party lobbied for me for the position of Senior Assistant to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and I got the assignment. It is a very difficult and responsible position because I represent Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov (an appointee of Russian President Vladimir Putin) in the Duma,” he said in an interview. In his position, which carries the quasi-military rank of Major General of the Justice, Karapetyan oversees all government and military agencies and has the authority to investigate, try and issue arrest warrants of all elected officials along with military personnel.

The Prosecutor General’s office maintains 40,000 appointed lawyers and has branch offices in all regions of the Russian Federation. How did an ethnic Armenian make it in such a sensitive and high position? Is the new Russian system really color blind and does not differentiate between the ethnic background of its citizens? Karapetyan, a soft-spoken family man and father of a teenage daughter, has never felt discrimination because of his Armenian roots.

“I tried to join the communist party as a young student, but was turned down. The strange thing is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I got a letter saying my application had been approved. I laughed. I did not even reply. It was fashionable to be a communist 20 years ago, and my application had nothing to do with my convictions,” he said.

“I am sure that I would not have reached this position if the communists were still in power. My road to success has always been through my hard work, party affiliation and the election process. I received more that 210,000 votes and all were Russians. They voted for the Yabloco Party to which I still belong,” he said. As a lawyer and a politician—and for that matter a Russian citizen—Karapetyan’s future never depended on an Armenian voting public, but his work and reputation reflect positively on Armenians living in Russia.

“Everyone knows that I am an Armenian. I have not changed my name, and denied my ethnic identity. The respect I get from my fellow party members, government officials and the Duma is also respect for us Armenians. I have always wanted to set a good example, and I will continue doing so,” Karapetyan said in Armenian.

“Don’t forget that I come from Rostov, where Armenians have a 230-year-old history and culture. We don’t take our history and roots lightly,” he said. If Chilingarov and Karapetyan have climbed the political ladder through the democratic election process in the past decade, retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeni Gurgenovich Batalov took the communist party route.

“You can call me old school. You can call me an old communist, but whatever you say, you must always remember that I have always been not only an Armenia, but an Armenian with roots in Nagorno Karabakh,” the 76-year-old Batalov said during a meeting in the offices of fellow Armenian Major Andranik Babayan, the police chief of Moscow’s populous Khoroshevski District.

The two men smile.

“Imagine … A decade ago we would have been classified as traitors if we had met a Western journalist like you. Just the fact that we can sit here, talk freely as fellow Armenians without any fear is like a dream come true,” Batalov said. Looking a lot younger than his age, whose knowledge of the Armenian language is limited to a few phrases like Ha Jan (yes, my dear) and Lokh Lava (very good, in the Karabakh Armenian dialect), was born in Moscow and spent his life until retirement with the Soviet military.

“I’m not exactly a politician as you understand the term today, but all the positions I held had very deep political overtones. The military was, and in some cases still is, a political institution,” he said. After graduating from engineering school, Batalov was drafted into the army as a junior officer and began climbing up the ranks until 1965 when he was transferred to the Interior Ministry—itself a police unit, which, as Batalov puts it “kept an eye on Soviet society.”

In 1967 he was named police chief of Moscow and later was put in charge of a division which coordinated investigations involving all foreign diplomats and nationals living on Soviet soil. But despite all the power he had, nothing came close to the most sensitive assignment of his long career, including police chief of the city of Kirov during the Brezhnev era. “I was vacationing on the Black Sea with my wife and only daughter in 1974 when I was ordered to move to Armenia and assume the position of Interior Minister—a Moscow-appointed position which was a lot more powerful than that of the Secretary General of the Armenian Communist Party,” Batalov said.

“The years between 1974 and 1984 are the most memorable in my life. They were also the most difficult. I was a Soviet, but also an Armenian. I will never forget what my father said when I asked his advice before leaving for Yerevan. He said son, act like a Soviet but feel like a true Armenian. Be sure that they not only respect you, but like you as well. I hope I lived up to my father’s expectations,” Batalov said in an emotional voice.

“It was during my service in Yerevan that I realized I was an Armenian, genetically and by nature. I never felt that way growing up in Moscow. We had a lot of Armenian friends, but being on Armenian soil was a totally different experience,” he said. Batalov can speak for hours about his life long experiences, but stops to single out a few, like the time he went with a police regiment to quell a prison riot, or decided on the fate of a woman who was serving time in jail because she refused to give up her only adopted child.

“The top criminal leading the prison riot in Kirov was an Armenian and he only surrendered because he knew I was an Armenian. As for the Armenian mother, that was in Yerevan. It made me realize what an Armenian mother was, and how strong the Armenian family ties were,” he said. “I just could not ignore her love for her child. I set her free. I could not separate mother and daughter,” he said. Years have gone by, the Soviet Union has collapsed, but Batalov’s reputation in Armenia is still alive.

“It was all very much of a surprise when I got a call last year from the Interior Minister of Armenia inviting me to visit Yerevan on my 75th birthday. I had not been back in 16 years, and I hesitated at first, but my daughter, who is married to a young man from Armenia, insisted that we both go,” Batalov said. On his arrival, Batalov was welcomed by not only top Interior Ministry officers, but even his old personal assistant and driver who came to the tarmac in the exact model of car he used during his long tenure in Armenia.

“If returning to Armenia after all these years was difficult at first, leaving was much more traumatic. In my heart, I want to go back again and again, but at my age, I don’t think I can handle the emotional stress of having to leave and return to my home in Moscow. After all I am a Moscovite, and my mother was Russian. I guess my Armenian genes are stronger,” Batalov said turning to Maj. Andranik Babayan—a new generation police officer.

His advice to Maj. Babayan??

“Don’t forget your roots. You can be a good Russian officer and a true Armenian at the same time. Serve both with dignity and honor.”

Մեր ժողովուրդն արանց հայրենասիրութեան այն է, ինչ որ մի մարմին' առանց հոգու:

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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:41 am

Russia Starts Production of Ballistic Missile to Counter U.S.


Russia will start producing an intercontinental ballistic missile for its new generation of nuclear submarines as it moves to counter a proposed U.S. missile defense system in eastern Europe.

Russia ordered production of components for the Bulava-M missile after successfully test firing it June 29 from a submarine in the White Sea to Kamchatka on the Pacific coast, state television cited navy chief Admiral Vladimir Masorin as saying yesterday in Sevastopol, home of Russia's Black Sea fleet. The navy plans two more test launches of the missile this year. There may be some mishaps during the forthcoming launches but that is what tests are for,'' state broadcaster Perviy Kanal cited Masorin as saying on its Web site. Three launches of the Bulava-M last year and another in 2005 failed.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia can produce missiles capable of piercing any defenses. Russia opposes U.S. plans to base 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar installations in the Czech Republic. Putin rejects President George W. Bush's assertion the system is aimed at defending Europe from a nuclear-armed Iran. Huge intellectual labor and financial resources have been invested in the creation of this system,'' Masorin said in the Crimean port yesterday. The Bulava-M is designed for Russia's new generation of nuclear submarines and is a key component in the country's strategic forces, the report said. The first of the submarines, the Yuri Dolgoruky, was launched in April after lengthy delays.


Russia making a comeback

For first time since Iron Curtain's fall, Russia to set up naval base on Syrian

Another phase in Russian President Vladimir Putin's imperialistic aspirations is being realized. It was just a matter of time before the Russian navy returned to the Mediterranean and resumed permanent command over the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia, which it abandoned with the fall of the Soviet Union. A Russian flag on Syrian soil has significant strategic implications. Firstly, it challenges the US and the dominance of the Sixth Fleet stationed in the Mediterranean. Secondly, with its actual presence in Syria, Russia is announcing that it is actively participating in any process and conflict in the Middle East, that it has a stance of its own, and that it must be reckoned with.

From Israel's point of view, we can expect a change in the rules of the game in the Mediterranean in general, and more specifically along the Syrian-Lebanon coasts: We haven't seen Soviet spy ships in the Mediterranean for quite some time. A permanent port in Syria would significantly facilitate its operations in our arena. Under such circumstances, the Israeli navy's freedom of action would inevitably change – and we may assume that Israel would have a problem striking at land-based facilities during wartime. The large-scale Syrian-Russian arms deal also includes systems for protecting coasts and ports and land-to-sea missiles of the most advanced type. Now we understand why.

Russia may play role of 'responsible adult'

Generally speaking, any possible Israeli military operation against Syria in the future would have to take the Russian presence into account. This presence would not necessarily be neutral. It is very reasonable to assume that Russia would take sides, at least diplomatically, in such a conflict. But perhaps the situation is not so bleak. As a "responsible adult" residing in Syria, Russia can actually serve to restrain a violent conflict from erupting between Syria and Israel.

Even now we can see that the Russians refrained from selling the Syrians some problematic arms from our point of view, such as the missiles that followed the Scud missile generation or the Russian equivalent of the Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. Although the Russians have agreed to upgrade Syria's MIG-29 aircraft, they have still not concluded the sale of new MIG-31A aircraft. There are still quite a few items the Syrians have asked for that the Russians are still weighing. Moreover, Russia may have a very central role is restraining the Iranian bear hug embracing Syria. In an age where there is talk of American withdrawal from Iraq, such a restraining Russian influence is doubly important in impeding the fundamentalist wave that is threatening to immerse the region.


Russia unveils air defence, eyes U.S. missile shield

MOSOCW (Reuters) - Russia unveiled a new air defence system on Monday that its designers say will be used as the basis of a new generation of Russian missile-intercepting weapons.

Russian television stations gave wide coverage to the deployment of the S-400 air defence system, a modernised version of a Soviet-designed surface-to-air missile unit. "The real effectiveness of this complex is its ability to destroy ballistic targets, ballistic missiles, aerodynamic targets," Vadim Volkovitsky, deputy air force commander in charge of anti-aircraft defence, told NTV television. "So not only the functions of air defence but also anti-missile defence," he said. Russia has been bickering with the United States over Washington's plans to deploy elements of an anti-missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The United States says the shield is intended to defend against missiles from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea and that it could not defeat Russia's giant nuclear arsenal. But President Vladimir Putin says the shield would hurt Russia's interests and Russian generals have said Moscow will develop its own anti-missile defence shield in retaliation. The Vremya Novostei newspaper reported that the S-400 would be used as a basis for a Russian anti-missile defence system. The designers of the S-400 Triumf said they were already working on a mobile anti-missile defence system.

"Our next task is a system called the S-500, an anti-missile system, a mobile anti-missile defence system, a fifth generation system as one element of Russia's unified system of anti-missile defence," said Igor Ashurbeili, general director of the Almaz design bureau. A Russian Orthodox priest was shown on television blessing the new weapons at a deployment ceremony in the city of Elekrostal in greater Moscow. The systems will initially defend Moscow and central Russia. The S-400 can destroy targets travelling at up to 5 km per second, including aircraft and medium-range ballistic missiles, though not intercontinental missiles, which travel too fast. It has a range of up to 400 km.

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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:44 am



ALROSA Je-wellery and the Armenian Ministry of Trade and Economic Development signed an Agreement on Cooperation in Je-wellery, Press Secretary Anahit Khechoyan told Minister of Trade and Economic Development Nerses Yeritsyan and ALROSA President Sergey Vibornov signed the document. Present were ALROSA Deputy President Sergey Ulin, President of the Armenian International Association of Goldsmiths, DCA Head Gagik Abrahamyan, Je-wellery Department Head Gagik Mkrtchyan other Armenian and Russian representatives. The press secretary said “work will be done on details of the agreement” since the Russian party has “serious plans” to enlarge cooperation.

The Russian delegation, spearheaded by Sergey Vibornov, arrived in Yerevan today. ALROSA President will meet with the Armenian president and the prime minister today. He will also hold meeting with local entrepreneurs. As a follow-up, an Armenian-Russian joint venture on Russian diamond processing is expected in Armenia. Sources say soon ALROSA and DCA will sign an agreement to process Russian diamond in Armenia, which will be sold in the Russian market. ALROSA processes 97 percent of Russian diamond and owns 25 percent of total share of world diamond processing. The company revenues approximate $3 billion per annum. ALROSA shareholders are Rosimushestvo (37 percent of shares), Yakutia State Ownership Management Ministry (32 percent of shares), eight regions of Yakutia (8 percent of shares) and 23 percent of shares are owned by different physical and legal entities.


Russian diamond giant Alrosa may launch Armenia Je-welry business

Russia's largest diamond producer Alrosa [RTS: ALRS] could launch a Je-welry business in Armenia, the company's president said Monday. The government of Armenia and Alrosa, which accounts for 97% of Russia's raw diamond production and for 25% of global output, signed on August 6 in Yerevan an agreement on cooperation in the Je-welry and diamond-cutting sectors. "The Russian Je-welry market has huge vacant niches and we do not rule out the possibility of utilizing the capacities of Armenian Je-welry enterprises for the placement of orders," Sergei Vybornov said.


Armenia open for cooperation with all states

Trade and economic cooperation with Russia is one of the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said.

“Let us not forget that the Russian market is the most available for us. Besides bilateral relations in energy, transport, metallurgy, chemistry and trade, we have developed relations in the banking system, precious stones working, information technologies and tourism as well as minor and middle business,” he said. The Armenian Minister noted that some 700 organizations basing on Russian capital have been registered in Armenia. “The growth of the Russian stock proves that the Armenian market becomes more and more attractive for investors. Armenia is open for cooperation with states,” the RA FM said, Interfax reports.

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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:46 am

Russia's MAKS-2007 air show to attract record number of firms


Russia hopes to attract a record number of companies to participate in a major air show outside Moscow on August 21-26, a senior Moscow city government official said Monday. Over 540 Russian companies and at least 200 foreign firms from over 30 countries are expected to participate in MAKS-2007, an air show held every two years in the town of Zhukovsky, which hosts a military airbase.

"At present, 726 participants have begun setting up their exhibits at the show," said Pyotr Katsyv, the transport minister in the Moscow city government. He also said the air show, which has grown in popularity each year, would attract a larger number of visitors and guests. The last air show, MAKS-2005, gathered 642 companies from 42 states. Contracts signed during MAKS-2005 totaled about $1 billion. Among the most notable deals closed at the show were the purchase of two Russian Il-76F military transport planes by Jordan, and a Russian-Indian deal on licensed production of AL-55I engines created by the Saturn Corporation.


Russia to build 2 Kalashnikov factories in Venezuela by 2010


Russia will build two factories for production of the famous Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition in Venezuela by 2010, a Russian arms manufacturer said Monday. The Urals-based Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (IMP) earlier fulfilled a contract to supply 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles to Venezuela, and signed a new contract licensing production of Kalashnikov rifles in the Latin American country.

"We will begin construction of two plants in Venezuela at the end of 2007," Vladimir Gorodetsky, the IMP general director told a news conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the famous small arms brand. "One plant will manufacture AK-103 assault rifles and another plant will produce 7.62-mm ammunition for the rifle," the official said. He said the contract, whose amount was not disclosed, specified construction of both plants at one site and the transfer of all related technologies and production licenses to Venezuela.

"It is an absolutely legitimate license on the production of small arms in Venezuela legally purchased by the country," Gorodetsky said, adding that the contract also envisioned training of personnel and after sales maintenance. The IMP official said Russia and Venezuela are discussing details for a new agreement on the supply of other types of small arms, including the Dragunov sniper rifle, to the South American state led by outspoken Socialist leader, Hugo Chavez.

"Out goal is to re-equip the Venezuelan army with modern types of small arms, grenade launchers, and sniper rifles," he said. Oil-rich Venezuela is a major purchaser of Russian weapons and hardware. In 2005-2006, Venezuela ordered weaponry from Russia worth $3.4 billion, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-17B multi-role helicopters, Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters and Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters. Russia has repeatedly stated that it would actively participate in the modernization of the Venezuelan armed forces until 2013.


Experts: SCO joint drill to improve anti-terror capability


A joint anti-terrorism military exercise, sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and slated for Aug. 9-17, will enhance the exchange among SCO member countries and improve their counter-terror capabilities, experts said. The first joint exercise was carried out on Monday at the Chebarkul drill site near the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk. "We may hope that all tasks in the interests of the SCO member states will be successfully fulfilled," Russian commander Vladimir Moltensky said after the two-hour exercise. "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not aimed against third countries and operates only in the interests of member states," he added.

The "Peace Mission 2007" drill, involving about 6,500 military personnel from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will be carried out in Chelyabinsk and Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Commanders from the six countries will hold consultations and make decisions in Urumqi upon receiving alert of an assumed terrorist attack on a Russian town and the field practice will then continue in Russian military ranges near Chelyabinsk. "In terms of both scale and content, the joint drill will reflect the trends of counter-terror exercises and bears an historic significance as a milestone in military cooperation among the six SCO member countries," said Zhen Shouhua, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Military Science.

"The joint drill will not indulge in empty talk but practice coordination and command in anti-terror combat. It will also serve to maintain regional peace and stability," Zhen said, noting that it is difficult for one country or its military forces to crack down on all terrorist organizations and activities that continue to grow worldwide. Heads of states and defense ministers of the SCO member countries will attend the live fire exercise on Aug. 17, which will involve airborne troops, special task forces, armored vehicles, military helicopters and fighters, said Qian Lihua, deputy general director of the Chinese troops. Such drill has been expanded with increasing member countries, combined troops and a much more complicated situation since the first of its kind was held in 2002, Qian said. "We can only cope with security challenges, and secure peace and development by enhancing cooperation when terrorism, separatism and extremism are active in the region," Qian said.

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