Russia: Stalin Worship Revived


August 12, 2007: The head of the air force said long range air recon missions (usually with Tu-95 aircraft) will be more frequently carried out in the Pacific. Earlier in the week, two Tu-95s showed up off Guam, where the U.S. Navy was holding training exercises. Russia says its Tu-95s were intercepted by American fighters, but the U.S. Navy denies this, saying the Russian aircraft never came close enough to American warships to warrant an interception.

August 11, 2007: The government is issuing new high school history books that downplay the mass murders (over 25 million dead) carried out during the quarter century that Josef Stalin ran the country. Stalin is now being portrayed as a "strong and successful" leader. Between Stalin and the German invasion, about a third of the Russian population was killed off during Stalin's rule. There was much relief, and remorse, in Russia when Stalin died in 1953. But with the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet (and Russian) empire (built up over the previous three centuries), there is much nostalgia for the mythical good old days. The current government is playing into that.

August 9, 2007: Georgia, upset that Russia continues to fly reconnaissance missions over its territory, tried to make a big deal out of a Russian Su-24 aircraft that ditched a one ton Kh58 anti-radar missile (which hit the ground, and didn't explode) when separatist rebels in South Ossetia fired on the warplane. Georgia claimed that the Russian aircraft fired the missile, but this gambit fell apart when it became known that the missile landed intact near a farmers home.

August 7, 2007: The S400 anti-aircraft missile system around Moscow officially became operational. This new system is said to be able to detect stealth aircraft, implying that the hypothetical enemy is the United States.Russia also claims the S-400 can knock down short range ballistic missiles (those with a reentry speed of up to 5,000 meters a second, in the same way the similar U.S. Patriot system does.) Russia is selling S400 for export, an effort that is limited by a lack of combat experience for the system. Patriot has knocked down aircraft and ballistic missiles, S-400 has not. Moreover, Russia anti-aircraft missile systems have a spotty history (especially when confronted by Western electronic countermeasures.) But Russia is already touting a new, S500 system, that can knock down longer range ballistic missiles (with higher reentry speeds) and stealth aircraft. The missiles around Moscow are part of a project to rebuild the Soviet era air defense system, which has fallen apart since the early 1990s. The new system will be completed in about eight years. The S-500 will be available before that.

August 6, 2007: A Delta IV SSBN (ballistic missile submarine) successfully tested a twenty year old 4K75RM (SS-N-23) SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) in the Pacific. These missiles, with a range of about 8,000 kilometers, are the only operational SLBMs Russia has had since the Typhoon class boats (and their RSM52/SS-N-20s) were retired in 2004. The 4K75RM uses the older, and more troublesome, storable liquid propellant, while the RSM52 had solid fuel.

Russia cancelled 90 percent of the $11 billion debt owned by Afghanistan. This was largely for weapons and military equipment supplied to several Afghan governments in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Russia is again supplying Afghanistan with weapons and military equipment, as well as civilian products.

August 3, 2007: A Russian submersible planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor near the north pole. This was a claim to possible oil and gas deposits in Arctic waters off Russias northern coast. Previous international agreements give Canada, Norway, Russia, the U.S. and Denmark (which owns Greenland) control of underwater resources in the Arctic. Basically, you own whatever is under your coastal waters (as defined by the continental shelf, the shallow stuff that eventually drops off to really deep water that is considered "international waters.") It appears there really are valuable resources under Arctic waters, and new technology has made it possible to profitably extract oil and gas there. Russia is claiming their coastal waters extend farther towards the north pole that previous agreements had established. This could lead to some tense moments.




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