Russia: Changing the Rules


January15, 2007: Russian military electronics production increased fifteen percent last year. Russia is moving from a producer of simple, inexpensive and reliable weapons, to a supplier of complex systems. The adoption of Western production techniques, and largely eliminated the old Soviet era reputation for crude, unreliable Russian electronics.

January 14, 2007: Violence against Chinese visitors, and migrants, in the far east, is on the increase. The Chinese are largely responsible for an economic boom in Siberia and the Russian far east, but this has caused more envy and anger by less ambitious Russians in the area. That has led to increasing violence.

January 12, 2007: Russia plans to launch at least 25 satellite missions in 2007. Russia is slowly rebuilding its satellite launching capability, which declined greatly in the 1990s.

January 11, 2007: The U.S. is negotiating to buy another dozen Russian space capsules (for delivering supplies to the space station). The U.S. recently bought two, and has been satisfied with the performance of the Russian equipment.

January 10, 2007: After much negotiating and arm twisting, Belarus made concessions and Russia resumed pumping oil through Belarus.

January 10, 2007: Russia and India are having a dispute over India's efforts to sell the jointly developed BrahMos cruise missile. Actually, this weapon is Russian, with India providing money to complete development, and then buying some. It was pitched as a co-development deal for propaganda purposes. The missile is made in Russia, but the Russians do not want to offend the Indians, who are, along with China, the major buyers of Russian weapons.

January 8, 2007: Russia halted oil shipments via a pipeline crossing Belarus. This was because of a dispute over how much money Belarus should be paid for the use of the pipeline. Some two million barrels of oil a day, move from Siberia to Western Europe this way. The Western Europeans have always feared that this arrangement would expose them to the threat of economic blackmail. But here is the other risk, disputes with the countries the pipeline goes through. This is the second time in a year that Belarus, a police state posing as a democracy, has caused energy shipments to be halted. Belarus needs the money, and threatened to take what it wanted, from the pipeline, if the Russians didn't pay the higher fees. In the last year, Russia has cut the below-market-prices for gas and oil delivered to Belarus. This was in return for Belarus being an obedient ally. The new Russian prices were still a bargain, but Belarus didn't want to lose the old deals.




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