March 13, 2013:
So far this year over 60 Islamic terrorists have been killed in the Caucasus. Over 80 have been captured. The government also admitted that Islamic radicalism is showing up among Moslem populations in other parts of the country. Islamic terrorism got started in the Caucasus during the 1990s, with the help of al Qaeda. In the last decade the Islamic terrorists down there have been put on the defensive but not destroyed. Government counter-terrorism efforts have, for the last few years, kept the Islamic terrorism from spreading beyond the Caucasus.
The government promised to provide money to get the navy 78 new warships (8 ballistic missile subs, 15 attack subs, and 54 surface ships) by the end of the decade. This is critical because the navy has received few new ships since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The Cold War era fleet also suffered from serious lack of maintenance (not enough money or sailors) in the 1990s, as a result many of these older ships wore out ahead of schedule. In a word, the Russian fleet had already fallen apart by the end of the 1990s and billions were then spent to get some of the older ships back into shape. The new ships will put the Russian navy back in the top-ten list of world fleets, especially if the admirals can upgrade personnel and training as well.
One unexpected aspect of the decade of military reforms has been the decline of women in uniform. The massive cuts in officers and staffs over the last five years have been particularly hard on female troops. In 2007, there were 30,000 women in the military, but now there are only 11,000. This is a big comedown from the 800,000 women who served in the military during World War II. The government is trying to encourage old (pre-World War II) Russian military customs, and that includes few women in the military.
China and Russia are trying to gain more control over Internet management, the better to increase government censorship over what people see and say on the Internet. In the meantime, both countries are imposing more monitoring and restrictions on the Internet within their countries. Many other nations are also doing this, some going so far as cutting their citizens off from most of the international Internet.
The government is having a more difficult time with its support for besieged Syrian dictator Basher Assad. The Syrian rebels are winning and Russia is trying to arrange peace talks, without much success. Russia is still delivering weapons to Syria, which has earned it international condemnation.
March 12, 2013: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) troops and police killed seven Islamic terrorists in two incidents.
March 10, 2013: In the Caucasus (Dagestan) a gunman murdered another traditional healer. Over the last few years Islamic terrorists have been murdering traditional healers, fortune tellers, and Islamic clerics who denounce the terrorists.
March 7, 2013: The government reported that on January 22nd, one of its satellites was hit and damaged by debris from a Chinese satellite that China had destroyed in a 2007 anti-satellite weapon test.
March 5, 2013: Josef Stalin died 60 years ago and this mass murderer (over 20 million, mostly Russians, killed during his three decades of rule) is still popular with many Russians. Not just the descendants of the communist bureaucrats, secret police, executioners, and labor camp guards responsible for the actual killing but also Russians nostalgic for the good old days when there was law and order. Well, not so much law, but at least the streets were safer. Russians have always idolized their most violent rulers (like Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, both responsible for killing a lot of Russians). While most Russians do not “approve” of Stalin, nearly half do. Stalin was from the Caucasus (Georgia) where he is also admired (in part for killing so many Russians).
March 4, 2013: In the Caucasus (Karachayevo-Cherkessia) two policemen were wounded after an encounter with what appeared to be a wanted Islamic terrorist.
March 2, 2013: The government announced that armed forces commanders have been ordered to implement needed and much delayed reforms within three years. The government is spending over $700 billion during the rest of the decade to buy new weapons and equipment but is concerned that the current military leadership may not be up to the task of reviving Russian military power. Military manpower has declined 80 percent since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and military effectiveness has fallen even more than that. The government has been trying to fix this for the last decade but has found senior military leaders unwilling or unable to act. Last year the government fired the heads of the air force and navy because of resistance to some of the military reforms (cuts in manpower and units and increased procurement of new equipment). The senior officers believed the government was attempting to turn the military from a "Russian" to a "Western" force. Still upset at losing the Cold War, the generals and admirals did not want to confirm their defeat by remaking the armed forces to look and operate like those of their Western adversaries. But the civilian leaders believe there is much to be learned from Western military success and want Russia to adapt. Officers who resist are being pushed out.