Russia: Nuking Imaginary Enemies


January 24, 2008: Daily incidents of terrorist violence continue in areas adjacent to Chechnya. The violence, and terrorist activity, is pretty low level. The number of terrorists is small, and the Russians have sent several special counter-terrorism teams to hunt down the terrorists. Russia has been doing this sort of thing in the Caucasus for two centuries.

January 23, 2008: Russian long range bombers flew down along the Norwegian coast, to carry out an military exercise off the French and Spanish coasts, where cruise missiles were fired at imaginary targets. At the same time, a Russian naval squadron, led by an aircraft carrier, holds exercises in the Mediterranean. These are largely PR exercises, as there's no practical reason for Russian warships to prowl the Mediterranean, or for Russian bombers to fire missiles in the Bay of Biscay. It's all for show, to demonstrate Russian military power to those who don't understand it.

January 19, 2008: The head of the Russian armed forces said that Russia could use its nuclear weapons preemptively, to destroy a hostile power preparing to attack. Currently, Russian conventional forces are very weak, and unable to deal with more than a few attacks along the nations long borders. So using nukes as defensive weapons makes sense. At the same time, no one is threatening Russia, despite Russian attempts to depict itself as being surrounded and menaced by NATO (which is a mutual defense organization). Fixing the Russian armed forces will take over a decade. Right now, the military is starting to receive new weapons that were in development when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, and that development was suspended. New weapons development projects have just begun. The Soviet Union, it turned out, produced impressive looking weapons, that performed much less well than they appeared capable of. Reversing that characteristic will take decades, and meanwhile, Russia will have to defend itself against imaginary enemies with nukes.

January 17, 2008: Japan arrested a senior civil servant and accused him of selling classified documents to a Russian spy working out of the Russian embassy.


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