Russia: Up Close And Personal


July 31, 2012:  As work began on the fourth new Borei class SSBN (ballistic missile equipped nuclear subs),  the government announced that it would have eight of these subs in service by the end of the decade, as well as 46 additional warships of all types. Despite this increase in warship construction, the Russian fleet is still shrinking as more and more Cold War (pre-1991) ships must be retired and not enough new ones are built. During the Cold War Russia had the second most powerful fleet in the world. Now it is having a hard time staying in the top ten.

In Tartarstan, 2,000 kilometers away from the Islamic violence in the Caucasus, there is growing violence by Islamic radical groups. About half the 3.7 million people in Tartarstan are Moslem and most are hostile to Islamic radicalism. But the radicals have been killing and threatening moderate clerics and setting off bombs.

While the government pushes paranoia about the West, and more realistic fear of Islamic terrorists, most Russians see (up close and personal) a new police state being put together. Worse still, this new dictatorship is corrupt and inept. Revolutions don't always work. The Russian government doesn't work very well either, as was demonstrated by criminally inept handling of record floods in the south early in July. Some 200 people died, mainly because the government failed to warn them that flood waters were coming. Emergency services after the damage was done were also inept and disorganized. Initial government attempts to shift the blame didn't work either. Finally, on the 22nd some of the guilty officials were arrested. There are a lot more inept officials out there because the current government puts more emphasis on loyalty than competence.

Russia appears to be supporting the Assad dictatorship in Syria to the end. This will be a major blow to Russian influence in the Arab world. But Russia is betting that the remaining Arab dictatorships and monarchies will see Russia as someone they can depend on no matter how bad things get.

July 29, 2012: In the Caucasus (Ingushetia) three Islamic terrorists were killed when cornered by police.

Off the north coast (Barents Sea) the Indian aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, experienced its first landing by a MiG-29. The ship is undergoing sea trials which were delayed over a month by bad weather. Vikramaditya is the former Russian Gorshkov, which India paid over $2 billion to refurbish. Some of the Indian crew has been working with the Vikramaditya for over a year, learning about all the ship's systems, and now most of the other 1,250 members of the crew are present. India will take possession of the INS Vikramaditya later this year, after the successful completion of sea trials. This project is four years behind schedule and $1.5 billion over the original budget. It is a major cause of ill-will between Russia and India.

July 28, 2012: In the Caucasus (Ingushetia) a roadside bomb wounded two policemen.  

July 27, 2012: In the Caucasus (Dagestan) police killed seven Islamic terrorists who had been cornered in a house. Earlier in the day three people were killed in a nearby car bombing.

July 26, 2012: There was widespread anti-Russian anger in Ukraine when it was discovered that several Russian athletes at the London Olympics listed themselves as "born in Russia" even though they listed a birth place in Ukraine.

July 24, 2012: In Siberia a railroad car carrying overage 30mm ammunition, caught fire and exploded. Five other freight cars were damaged. Russia continues to remove aging Cold War era munitions from storage facilities so the stuff can be safely disposed of.

July 23, 2012: Russia has warned its citizens to stay out of Syria, where a pro-Russian government is losing its battle to contain a rebellion by most Syrians.

July 21, 2012: In the Caucasus (Ingushetia) two soldiers and several Islamic terrorists were killed. In nearby Dagestan police killed several Islamic terrorists who had been cornered in a house.





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