Russia: Above The Law and Loving It


June 22,2007: Russia is delivering upgraded MiG-31 interceptors to Syria, which is creating tensions with Israel. Syria is broke, and the expensive MiG-31 upgrades are being paid for by Iran. The 56 ton aircraft has a powerful radar, and high speed. The Syrian air force has constantly been humiliated by the Israelis over the last half century. The MiG-31 won't change the balance, but does pose a threat to Israeli aircraft.

June 20, 2007:There was a gun battle in Chechnya, that left five dead. What was unusual about this was that the fighting was between traffic police and army troops. A traffic cop stopped a soldier (a member of a commando unit) for drunk driving. The soldier refused to submit to testing or arrest. Both sides called in reinforcements. When about 200 armed police and soldiers were gathered at the scene of the traffic stop, someone started shooting. Four soldiers and one cop were killed, while another six people were wounded. Such battles between police and soldiers are not unusual, and are mainly the result of troops believing they are above the law, and not subject to police jurisdiction. This is a holdover from the Soviet period, when several branches had their own internal police, and civilian police could not interfere. This is no longer supposed to be the case, but old habits die hard. It's worse in the Caucasus, especially, Chechnya, where politicians establish fiefdoms in government ministries, and refuse to submit to the law.

June 15, 2007:Austria caught a Russian official receiving state secrets from an Austrian military officer, and arrested the Russian. But the Russians insisted their guy had diplomatic immunity. That, and some behind the scenes threats, got the Russian spymaster released a few days later. European nations are getting fed up with Russias' growing espionage effort. Europe and North America are prime targets, and the spying is back to Cold War levels.

June 13, 2007:Russia is abandoning Cold War era treaties like CFE (Conventional Armed Forces in Europe), which limited where Russian and NATO military forces could be stationed in neighboring nations. The treaty is largely moot, as the enormous Cold War armies are now largely gone. The number of Russian combat divisions has shrunk some 80 percent since the end of Cold War, with NATO losing over a third of their ground forces. No one is inclined to threaten war if CFE is discarded.




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