Category Archives: Russia

Just when the Ossetians thought they were independent…

Kremlin announces that South Ossetia will join ‘one united Russian state’ – Times Online

The Kremlin moved swiftly to tighten its grip on Georgia’s breakaway regions yesterday as South Ossetia announced that it would soon become part of Russia, which will open military bases in the province under an agreement to be signed on Tuesday.

Ossetians are probably now starting to realise that their dream of a united Ossetian state is never likely to happen. They have in fact exchanged a semi autonomous state for a region in the Russian Federation, and few ever extract themselves from the maw of that beast, jus ask the Chechens.

This is of course a great move by Russia, liberating the state of South Ossetia, recognising it’s independence, before absorbing it into the Russian Federation. Annexation by the back door.

All neatly done whilst the world was watching, and no one lifted a finger to stop them. I have to admit that Putin has impressed me throughout all of this incident, he has played a brilliant game.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that agreements on “peace, co-operation and mutual assistance with Abkhazia and South Ossetia” were being prepared on the orders of President Medvedev. Abkhazia said that it would ask Russia to represent its interests abroad.

I am sure that it is only a matter of time before Abkhazia too joins the Russian Federation.

Gigi Tsereteli, the Vice-Speaker said:
“The regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should think about the fact that if they become part of Russia, they will be assimilated, and in this way they will disappear.”

Which is why I am so surprised that they are so readily siding with Russia, they must realise that this will mean that they will lose the virtual independence that they have enjoyed since the early 1990s.

I can only assume that they believe that they will get something more out of the deal, such as some of the wealth from Russian gas and oil but I think that it is much more likely their leaders have been promised a few quid, if they persuade their people.

Russia told the EU that any sanctions would be damaging to both sides.

I am not surprised that the French have postponed a vote on sanctions against Russia, it is utterly pointless. As soon as the EU imposes sanctions, Russia will respond with its own sanctions – on gas and oil, right before the coldest European winter on record.

Russia can sell its gas and oil elsewhere, Europe has no where else to buy it from.

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The Might of the EU

As the war in Georgia has recently shown, a resurgent Russia is one of the most powerful nations on earth, in terms of both military power and influence. Completely dependent on Russian fuel, Europe is at the mercy of Putin.

The EU is often described as toothless, weak and spineless, so I thought it would be interesting just to see what the military might of the EU is. Although it has no formal army the EU is made up of some of the world’s foremost powers and could be forced to act if say Russia took the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia, or cut off supplies to Europe.

The EU as a single entity would be the richest nation on earth but even individually the nations that make up the EU are well off. France has the largest defence budget in the EU and the second largest in the world, some £39 billion; Russia has a budget of just £24 billion. In fact all of the EU’s big three nations, France, Britain (£36 billion) and Germany (£24.2 billion) spend more on defence each year than Russia. Even China spends more on defence each year than its former comrade with £31 billion.

The combined EU defence budget is £165 billion, the second largest in the world, after of course the US, which spends an incredible £308 billion a year on defence and accounts for almost half of the world’s combined defence budget.

The EU big four would make up the bulk of any EU force. In terms of manpower France once again leads the way with a total of 750,000 men, including reserves; Germany, 700,000; Italy, 600,000; Britain, 440,000. A combined EU force would number 7.2 million men, including reserves but without reserves that number would be just 2.2 million active service personnel.

Russia has 1.2 million active service personnel, the US 1.6 million. China is the only country able to field more men that the EU, at 2.3 million.

As Sun Tzu said:

“In war, numbers alone confer no advantage.”

There has never been more true than in modern warfare. Russia has a staggering amount of equipment, and would certainly be high on anyone’s ‘nations not to fuck with’ list. Russia has a whopping 25,000 tanks, 2000 fighter aircraft and still has a formidable navy, 2 aircraft carriers, over 100 warships and about 85 submarines.

In comparison France has about 1000 tanks, 300 fighter aircraft, 1 aircraft carrier, 30 warships and 10 subs. Altogether though, the EU has over 8000 tanks, 2500 fighter aircraft, 8 aircraft carriers, about 200 warships and about 80 subs.

The USA has 8000 tanks, 2500 fighter aircraft, an incredible 12 aircraft carriers (which is more than Russia, the EU and China combined), over 150 warships and about 80 subs.

Far from being a toothless tiger, the EU certainly has the military might for a direct confrontation with Russia, or anyone else for that matter, but there is one area where the EU dominates all other nations.

Bureaucrats.

The number of bureaucrats in the EU, including the EU and domestic ones, must run into the millions and this is the Achilles heel of the EU.

Were Russia to take control of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia and cut off the fuel supplies to Europe, the citizens of the EU would have frozen to death or died of starvation long before the bureaucrats had reached any consensus on a plan of action.

The conflict in Georgia has shown who really holds all the cards on this side of the Atlantic. Sarkozy may believe that he negociated a ceasefire, but in reality Russia had made its point. A quarter of Georgia is now in the hands of the Russian army, it is unlikely they will ever be returned.

I am sure that in the next few weeks and months, Georgia and the Ukraine will renounce any plans to join either the EU or NATO.

Russia shows West it’s still a Superpower

1,500 dead as Russian troops raid Georgian town – Europe, World – The Independent

Russia sent hundreds of tanks and troops into the separatist province of South Ossetia and bombed Georgian towns today in a major escalation of the conflict that has left scores of civilians dead and wounded.

Russia has been waiting for this moment for a long time. The West was given an indication of it’s belligerence a little over a year ago when Russia cut off the gas supplies to its neighbours Georgia and Ukraine and then doubled the price to have it turned back on.

I am sure that the real point of this wasn’t to scare the Georgians, or even to extort more money from them, but to show Europe just what Russia was prepared to do, if it thought that it had reason to.

After the end of the Cold War, Russia was weak, it couldn’t hold the nations that once formed the USSR together and it attempted to draw the line in Chechnya but was unable to keep the region as part of Russia, at least at first. By 1999 things were different, Russia was stronger and Chechnya was brought into line.

After Chechnya, it seems a re-invigorated Russia may now be turning it’s attention further south, to Georgia.

Russia has been attempting to reassert itself on the world stage in recent years, the money from gas and oil has made sure that it’s once threadbare and unpaid army is once again one of the best in the world. It has also demonstrated that it is not afraid to project its influence outside its own border, even making assassinations, just like the old days.

It was only a matter of time before it stopped taking the slights from its former colonies, who have been moving closer and closer to the West, and further away from Russia. Cutting off of the gas was just one part of this.

Where once there would have been condemnation, threats of aid cuts and the like, now there is only silence. Europe won’t speak out, it cannot threaten Russia and it certainly cannot confront Russia militarily, even if the tanks were to start moving West.

Europe buys most of its oil and gas from Russia, if Russia were to turn off the tap, Europe would be crippled. Russia has, quite literally, got Europe by the short and curlies.

As for the war in Georgia, it cannot really even be called a war. Georgia has a standing army of 37,000 men, with a reserve of about 100,000. Russia has about 400,000 men but very deep pockets, with 2.5 million men available for military service.

Georgia has about 250 tanks, Russia could send just 1 out of every 100 of its tanks into Georgia, and still outnumber the Georgians.

Most modern wars are won in the air; Georgia has about 70 aircraft in its air force, Russia again has over 100 times that number.

This is quite literally a walk in the park for Russia, Georgia can only put up a resistant for so long, before it will be forced to surrender and take whatever terms Russia dictates.

The Georgian appeals for aid from the West have fallen on deaf ears, no one wants to, nor can they afford to get involved. The US is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and Russia knows that any threats from America would be empty. Europe cannot afford to antagonise Russia too much because of the energy problems.

It seems that now Georgia will have to give up its aspirations of joining NATO and the EU, if not its independence.

But Georgia is surely just a stepping stone for a resurgent Russia, it now has the military might, the support of the Russian public, and a lack of world opposition, to basically do as it pleases and turn the tide of its declining power and influence. Russian leaders must already be eyeing that other troublesome neighbour, that too harbours ambitions of joining NATO and the EU, Ukraine.

Although a different proposition (the Ukraine has a standing army of 300,000 men, 4000 tanks and 2000 aircraft), Ukraine may too be forced to move closer to Russia, to avoid any problems.

Out with the old, in with the new…

In another affront to freedom of speech and democracy, Putin has silenced the Russian press over allegations that he has divorced his wife to marry a 24 year old gymnast.

The Russian Parliament or Duma  passed the bill to silence the press with an incredible 339-1. The dissenter was no doubt taken outside and shot after the vote count.

Like him remaining President despite being unable to by law, Putin believes that if no one knows the truth, it’s all OK.

20071214RZ1AP-PutinPuppet

Putin has never been as popular as he is now, in a large part because the press hasn’t been this strictly controlled by the Kremlin since the days of Communism. The man can do no wrong, or at least no wrong that the Russian people will hear about.

Print is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party.
– Joseph Stalin

kabaeva_7 I am sure that the confidence and respect that Russians have in Putin would be severely dented if they knew that he’d cast aside his wife of 25 years for a woman the same age has his daughters.

That and the other information that the press aren’t allowed to print, such as the fact that Putin is Europe’s richest man,  and it was all made on the backs of the people he was meant to be serving.

Putin has of course denied all the allegations, and the ordinary Russian on the street has no reason to believe otherwise.

This seems to be a common thing amongst despots, Mugabe also traded his wife in for a newer model. Of course Putin wife has died under mysterious circumstances but I am sure that the operatives in Dzerzhinsky Square are working on that.

Putin Assassination Plot

Telegraph | Vladimir Putin assassination attempt ‘foiled’

“Russian secret services have foiled an attack on President Vladimir Putin close to Red Square, it has been claimed. A man with a sniper rifle and Kalashnikov assault gun was found and detained in a rented apartment overlooking Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral, on March 2, the day of the Presidential election in Russia.”

Oh dear. The Lubyanka receives another inmate, albeit briefly. I am sure once he has been questioned he’ll be on his way to Siberia.

“It was unclear why it had taken so long for the alleged assassination bid to be made public…”

My guess would be because that is how long it takes to work a subject.

What I can’t understand is why anyone would want to shoot Putin, after all he is extremely popular, at least according to the State controlled media and he has no enemies, that aren’t in some form of gulag or exiled.

Shock Russian Election Result!

I have had to wait for official confirmation on the results as I didn’t want to call this one too soon and then look silly later on.

Much to the surprise of everyone, Medvedev has won the Russian election. The losers, democracy, integrity and credibility have yet to comment. In all honesty I have no idea who was running against him, but then again I don’t suppose that many Russians did either.

Personally I would have been routing for Garry Kasparov, but of course he wasn’t allowed to enter due to the fact he was actually electable.

My favourite quote regarding the ‘election’ was from the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner:

“The election was conducted Russian-style, with a victory known in advance, very surprising figures, not quite worthy of Stalin, but not bad.”

Not one to pass up the chance of a witty quip, Gordon Brown – sent a letter.

According to reports::

Mr Medvedev won Sunday’s election with 70 percent of the vote, matching the figure that analysts have long said the Kremlin wanted him to receive.

Something tells me that if the Kremlin had wanted him to get 80% of the vote, he would have got that too.

Helpful Police officers convince a reluctant voter that his vote is required.

Helpful Police officers convince a reluctant voter that his vote is required.

It would be easy to take the cynical view and assume that nothing has changed in Russia since the collapse of Communism, or even take the view that they have returned to the dark days of Stalin. But that would be wrong:

“At one point a group of youngsters discussing the election were dragged out of a McDonalds restaurant and loaded into a bus.”

They have McDonalds now.

Russian hitmen strike again?

BBC News | Police study Georgia mogul death

British police have referred the death of Georgian tycoon and opposition politician Badri Patarkatsishvili to a crimes investigation unit for scrutiny.

Have the Russians learnt lessons from the polonium incident? Was the eccentric looking billionaire, Badri Patarkatsishvili, taken out, or was he just the victim of a bad heart or unhealthy diet?

To be honest I think it is unlikely that we’ll find out one way or another, however if I were Boris Berezovsky I would be looking at doubling the guard at my palace, hiring some badass ex-SAS bodyguards and start writing out big cheques to the MI5/6 benevolent funds.

Russia has been flexing its muscles in recent weeks, flying over a US aircraft carrier just a few days ago, and also violating Japanese airspace last week. Clearly the Russians have had enough of being treated like a has been power, and I would not want to be in Berezovsky’s shoes right now.

A few men made a lot, no, a hell of a lot of money in the wake of the Soviet collapse in 1991, most of them have paid dearly for it since then, one way or another.