Author Topic: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]  (Read 291588 times)

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Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #750 on: June 30, 2017, 07:32:43 »
Russia unveils a supposed next generation combat uniform, complete with exoskeleton and full face helmet etc.  Very GI Joe or Halo looking.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4653886/Russia-unveils-generation-Star-Wars-combat-uniform.html
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #751 on: July 09, 2017, 15:56:53 »
More on breaking Russia's energy stranglehold over Europe:

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/07/08/trump_has_putin_over_a_barrel_134415.html

Quote
Trump Has Putin Over a Barrel
By Lawrence Kudlow
July 08, 2017

A few years back, in one of his finest moments, Sen. John McCain said on a Sunday talk show, "Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country." It was right when he said it, and it's even more right today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's circle of corrupt oligarchs gouge whatever money they can from the impoverished Russian economy and move it to bank accounts overseas. And they do this after giving Putin his cut, which he apparently also sends overseas.

Many say Putin is the richest man in Russia, worth billions and billions. So the old Soviet model of nomenklatura communist bureaucrats getting rich while the rest of the country declines is still in place.

But with energy prices falling, Putin's Russia has essentially been in a recession over the past four years. With oil at $50 a barrel or less, Russian budgets plunge deeper into debt. It's even doubtful the Russians have enough money to upgrade their military-energy industrial complex.

Through crafty media relations and his own bravado, a deluded Putin struggles to maintain the illusion that Russia is a strong economic power. But it ain't so. Not even close.

Now, Russia still has a lot of oil and gas reserves. And it uses this to bully Eastern and Western Europe. It threatens to cut off these resources if Europe dares to complain about Putin power grabs in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, the Baltics and elsewhere.

But enter President Donald Trump. In his brilliant speech in Warsaw, Poland, earlier this week, he called Putin's energy bluff.

It may well have been the best speech of his young presidency. Trump delivered a stirring leadership message, emphasizing the importance of God, freedom, strong families and democratic values.

And while unambiguously pledging to uphold NATO's Article 5 -- which commits the members to protect one another -- Trump went even deeper. "The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive," he said. "Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? ... if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive." He also spoke several times of the religious leadership and bravery of Pope John Paul II.

It was a bold strike for the West.

But in an absolutely key part of the speech, he took direct aim at Putin's energy bullying.

Trump said, "we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy."

President Trump has quickly made it clear that former President Barack Obama's war on business is over. He's also made it clear, through regulatory rollbacks of breathtaking scope, that the Obama war on fossil fuels is over.

Trump wants America to achieve energy dominance. He withdrew from the costly Paris climate accord, which would have severely damaged the American economy. He directed the EPA to rescind the Obama Clean Power Plan, which would have led to skyrocketing electricity rates. He fast-tracked the Keystone XL pipeline. He reopened the door for a modernized American coal industry. He's overturning all the Obama obstacles to hydraulic fracturing, which his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton would have dramatically increased. And he has opened the floodgates wide to energy exports.

Right now, U.S. oil reserves are almost in parity with those of Saudi Arabia. We have the second most coal reserves in the world. There are enough U.S. gas reserves to last us about a century. We have already passed Russia as the world's top natural gas producer. We are the world's top producer of oil and petroleum hydrocarbons. And exports of liquefied national gas are surging, with the Department of Energy rapidly approving new LNG projects and other export terminals.

All these America-first energy policies are huge economic-growth and high-wage job producers at home. But in the Warsaw speech, Trump made it clear that America's energy dominance will be used to help our friends across Europe. No longer will our allies have to rely on Russia's Gazprom supplies with inflated, prosperity-killing prices.

In short, with the free market policies he's putting in place in America's energy sector and throughout the U.S. economy, the business man president fully intends to destroy Russia's energy-market share. And as that takes hold, Russia's gas station economy will sink further.

And as that takes hold, Bully-boy Putin will have to think twice about Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics. He'll have to think twice about his anti-American policies in the Middle East and North Korea. And he'll have to think twice about his increasingly precarious position as the modern-day Russian tsar.

And the world may yet become a safer place.

Trump has Putin over a barrel.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #752 on: July 09, 2017, 19:51:13 »
More on breaking Russia's energy stranglehold over Europe ...
Coal to Ukraine would be an interesting start ...
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

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“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #754 on: July 14, 2017, 22:40:12 »
The pressures described in the article apply to the ruling class in Canada, the US, China and pretty much everywhere else, so this article could be I'm multiple threads. such as Brexit, Grand Strategy for a Divided America, or even Deconstructing Progressive Thought. The creation of parallel structures is part of the replacement of existing structures which are no longer functioning. Lots to ponder:

https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/14/unconventional-wisdom/

Quote
Unconventional Wisdom
BY RICHARD FERNANDEZ JULY 14, 2017 CHAT 132 COMMENTS

Conventional Wisdom

During the Cold War the Soviets were contained by physically surrounding them with allies (NATO) while pelting its firewall with messages from the Voice of America, Newsweek and CNN.  Precious little got through.  Just how total this exclusion in the pre-Internet and BC (Before Cellphone) days was is illustrated by the story of defector Viktor Belenko and the American supermarket.  Traveling through suburban Virginia he noted the vast array of goods and absence of rotten smells in these establishments and suspected Fake News.

"I congratulate you," Belenko said en route back to the mansion. "That was a spectacular show you put on for me."
"What do you mean?'

"I mean that place; it's like one of our show kolkhozes where [our government] takes foreigners."

Nick laughed, but not Peter. ["Belenko], I give you my word that what you've just seen is a common, typical shopping center. There are tens of thousands of them all over [the U.S.A.]. Anywhere you go in the United States, north, south, east, west, you will see pretty much the same. Many of the shopping centers in the suburbs of our cities are bigger and fancier and nicer."

But it wasn't fake; just that Belenko's mind couldn't take in the new paradigm.  Forty years later the Internet, cellphone and a shift "from a centrally planned economy to a globally integrated market economy" made the sight of consumer goods familiar in Russia.  But finding the money to buy these goodies depended on oil.  Oil is the lifeblood of Putin's ambitions and his Achille's heel.  Obama's reset with Russia may have failed to slow Putin but the lack of money caused by sanctions and the collapse of oil prices worked just as advertised.

The Russian economy experienced two major shocks in 2014 ... the first shock was the sharp decline in oil prices during the third and fourth quarter of 2014, exposing Russia’s extreme dependence on global commodity cycles. ... The second shock was the economic sanctions resulting from geopolitical tensions, which negatively affected investor appetite for Russian investments.

Lack of money was a powerful restraint.  The oil crash collapsed the ruble and forced a 27% reduction in the Kremlin's military budget in 2016.  With oil prices set to stay flat the Russians have to keep drilling and investing simply to stay level as the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies notes.  The Kremlin doesn't make any real spending money until world oil price gets above levels before the great oil crash of 2014, which may not happen any time soon. As the Oxford study explains:

The correlation between upstream spending in ruble terms and oil production is ... an R-square of 0.96. However, companies would not spend their money on increasing output without some commercial incentive, no matter how much the Kremlin might urge it [without] ... the Russian tax system ...

these taxes ... are also calculated relative to the oil price and have a sliding scale. The rate of export tax, for example, changes when the oil price goes above $15, $20 and $25/barrel. As a result, as the oil price rises the government take increases significantly, but when it falls it is government revenues that take the largest hit.

You would think this a Eureka moment: to contain oil prices is to contain Russia (and Islamism). But cheap fossil fuels are not everyone's cup of tea.  "Drill, baby, drill" is not popular on the left.  Even though liberals understand the power of cheap energy -- one of Hillary's supposedly hacked emails even alleged anti-fracking and environmental causes were a Russian plot to depress oil production -- to advocate it is bad progressive politics. This probably led the Saudis to Hillary's camp in 2016. "According to Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Group, countries in the oil-producing Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, are hoping for Hillary Clinton to become president."

"It is no secret that the Saudis and other Gulf Sunni powers are rooting for Mrs. Clinton," McNally told CNBC from Vienna ahead of Thursday's widely eyed OPEC meeting.

"(There is) a lot of concern and anxiety about what Donald Trump would mean," he said.

If second marriages are the "triumph of hope over experience"  perhaps environmental policy is the victory of lobbying over common sense.  The Russians stymied on the physical front had to resort to the virtual world to equalize.  Despite the depiction of Russians as uber-hackers, they actually saw themselves as coming from behind the West in cyberwarfare. The Russian General staff was inspired by the role social media played in the Arab Spring to create a cyberwarfare capability. Nor had the Kremlin forgotten the traumatic role soft power played in the downfall of the Soviet Union. "In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, many western nations continued to utilise soft power initiatives to consolidate the spread of western liberal ideas and culture. ... For Russia, this extensive dispersal of western liberal influence was viewed as a potential threat. Citing events like Color Revolutions, the Maiden Protest in the Ukraine and uprisings of the Arab Spring, Russia believed America was using soft power as a weapon in a new form of hybrid warfare."

So they tried a little soft power themselves.  Little did they imagine how successful they would be against the former information warfare gurus. The Russian hacks of the 2016 election are regarded as such epic victories that Keith Olbermann broadcast an online plea for help to the world's intelligence agencies to help prevent a Russian coup in Washington. Significantly more measured is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright description of the shocking reversal of fortune.

In the 1970s, I wrote my dissertation on the role of the Czechoslovak press in the events of Prague Spring. In the early 1980s, I traveled to Poland to study the underground press of the Solidarity movement. I met with dozens of journalists, who told me that while they started out by delivering typed news sheets to workers in factories, they found they could increase their speed of communication and the reach of their messages by using what was then considered a cutting-edge technology — audiocassettes.

I remember thinking about those tapes in 2011, as I watched activists in Tunisia and Egypt use social media to organize, communicate, and ultimately topple two entrenched regimes. It was easy, in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, to believe that these new tools of communication had only transformed politics for the better, and that the spread of @Twitter and @Facebook would inevitably lead to more open and democratic societies.

But as our agenda today attests, those views did turn out to be too optimistic — because like so many other things, technology is a double-edged sword. In recent years, democracy’s enemies have become adept at polluting social media platforms with rumors, disinformation, and anti-democratic propaganda. And has let some of the same people who once heralded the birth of the social media age to wonder whether democracy can survive it. ...

The Oxford researchers also showed how authoritarian governments are using these tools on their own populations as a form of social control, with some 45 percent of twitter activity in Russia coming from automated accounts.

We are now Viktor Belenkos to be protected from the contagion of subversive thought.  This amazing turnabout partly explains the media's bitterness for Donald Trump.  Their downfall seems so sudden it can only be due to some evil Trumpian witchcraft or infernal magic, for nothing else can explain it.  But Albright to her credit understands that what changed since the day Viktor Belenko walked into a suburban Virginia supermarket wasn't Trump:  what changed was the implosion of the information hierarchy.

What is interesting to me is comparing this to how information got transmitted during communism.
In the days of the Soviet Union, people largely knew that official sources of information could not be trusted, so they built unofficial channels that were more reliable, for example talking to friends and family.

In the internet age, it is these unofficial channels that are becoming less reliable, as computational propaganda is able to more easily infiltrate these networks. At the same time, people do not seem to have yet developed a healthy skepticism about what others are sharing online.

Our trust hierarchies have collapsed. As with Soviet Russia, the "official" media sources are now distrusted as purveyors "fake news".  To fill the gap a peer-to-peer grapevine, similar to the "friends and family", a samizdat is emerging to pick up the slack. Sonya Mann at Inc uses a startup to illustrate the growing division of society into trust groups. "Pax Dickinson wants to fund the revolution. Not a blood-in-the-streets revolution, but one where hardcore right-wingers can economically secede from the parts of society they vehemently dislike. "We need parallel everything. I do not want to ever have to spend a single dollar at a non-movement business."

In conversations with Inc., Dickinson explained that he sees CounterFund as the linchpin of a parallel far-right economy. The alt-right movement shouldn't fund or depend on platforms that are hostile to their goals, he believes. CounterFund's website sports endorsements from Richard Spencer, the suit-wearing white supremacist who went viral after being punched in the face, and comedian Sam Hyde, whose divisive show Million Dollar Extreme was kicked off the air by Adult Swim.

Dickinson is pitching CounterFund itself as a new kind of political party, one that cares for its community rather than pouring money into candidates' campaigns. It's hard to overstate the degree to which he's willing to take this project beyond mainstream acceptability. Dickinson compared CounterFund to Hezbollah: "Hezbollah is a government within a government. They collect garbage, they operate hospitals, they're an economy within an economy, and a government within a government."

The Resistance is probably embarked on the same process of internal secession themselves.  How long can this mutual escalation of mistrust continue without effect?   The challenge to hierarchy probably arose independently of Putin.  He just happened to come along at the right time to ride the wave and take credit for it.

The Chinese government, less apoplectic than the humiliated Washington elite, is collected enough to realize they too are at risk from the forces of entropy engulfing the West and they are damping down on it.  "China will completely block access to much of the global internet as part of a sweeping crackdown aimed at suppressing dissent and maintaining the Communist party’s grip on power. The government has ordered China’s three telecommunications companies to completely block access to virtual private networks, or VPNs."

The Chinese aren't afraid of Putin, but they are terrified of what they perceive as chaotic process. In the West it's just the opposite.  No one fears a chaotic process.  They're all afraid of a man.

Conventional wisdom posits the chief challenges facing the post-Cold War World are Global Warming and the decline of international institutions. But maybe that assurance is a species of Fake News.  Suppose the most pressing problems in the next decade is finding new energy supplies to 1) keep the price of oil low enough to contain Russia (and Islamism); and 2) adapting to a disruptive information revolution no one can seem to control.  Who will hand you that unconventional wisdom unless you come to it yourself?
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #755 on: July 29, 2017, 18:31:04 »
A few reasons why the U.S.-Russia relationship may not get better anytime soon, shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) ...
https://nobsrussia.com/2017/07/29/trump-cant-deal-the-problem-of-improving-usrussian-relations/
Quote
Trump Can’t Deal: The Problem of Improving US/Russian Relations
Russia Without BS blog
29 July 2017


Long before he got elected, Trump talked about having better relations with Russia. Of course he also talked about shooting down Russian planes for buzzing US Navy ships, but generally his attitude was “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with Russia?” Many people on both sides of the political spectrum and with little knowledge of Russia or its ruling class have asked the same question. Is it really so bad to want better relations with Russia? Honestly the answer is no, it’s not bad at all, but the devil is in the details.

First of all, people who tend to advance this argument tend to put all the blame and responsibility on the United States for the breakdown in relations. NATO expansion was “provocative” to Russia, they often say. More brazen defenders of Putin *COUGH*MARK AMES*COUGH* claim that the US was responsible for the Maidan “revolution” in Ukraine which “sparked a civil war.” All of this betrays the mentality that the Kremlin is promoting. All of this is hypocritical and wrong, as well.

For one thing, whatever you think about NATO (and I have my complaints as well), Russia long since recognized the rights of sovereign nations (including those which were in the former Eastern Bloc) to join whatever international alliances or organizations they wanted. It is indeed interesting how these non-interventionists are quick to jump on any example of the US violating the sovereignty of foreign nations, yet they never consider that joining NATO or the EU is also exercising a nations sovereignty. Maybe, just maybe, a better question to ask is why nations like the Baltic states (the only NATO members which actually share a border with the bulk of Russia) wanted to join NATO in the first place. In any case, if you look at NATO spending and US military deployments in Europe up till about 2015, you’ll see how ludicrous it is to claim that NATO was somehow threatening Russia, so much so that it justified invading Ukraine and annexing a part of it just because a corrupt would-be dictator pissed off his own people and then ran instead of abiding by the agreement he signed.

There’s also the argument that the West screwed over Russia during the Yeltsin years. There are certainly real grievances here, particularly economic advice that emphasized free market dogma at the expense of human lives, and looking the other way while Boris Yeltsin illegally and violently constructed an authoritarian system which he would later hand over to Vladimir Putin. But this also ignores the other side of the coin. For one thing, Western governments also provided humanitarian aid during this period. Could they have done more? Definitely. But it’s simply a lie to assert that all the West did was send free market missionaries and sex tourists. Second, this argument about the 90’s totally removes all agency from Russians. The United States didn’t force dishonest people to form organized crime gangs (some of which dated back to late Soviet times), nor did it force people to rob and cheat their fellow citizens so they could become unbelievable rich. The West was, at worst, an enabler in this business. It was not the initiator.

The West did not “humiliate” Russia. In fact it was quite the opposite. It looked the other way as Russia helped create pseudo-states in Moldova and Georgia. It helped negotiate a deal with Ukraine, whereby that country gave up its nuclear weapons and entrusted them to Russia. It acknowledged Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union, thus allowing Russia to take over the USSR’s permanent position on the UN Security Council. Over my long time in Russia, I learned that what many Russians considered humiliating about the 90’s wasn’t what I considered humiliating. If you asked me what was humiliating about that period I would have said the poverty, the crime, and most of all the sexual exploitation, which became so widespread it led to the name “Natasha” becoming a slang term for prostitute in many countries. But the humiliation that many Russians think about today largely ignores that, and instead focuses on the loss of their empire. It was humiliating to have to acknowledge the independence of countries like Kazakhstan or Ukraine. It was humiliating that Russians would have to start learning the language of the titular nationality instead of the latter having to use Russian all the time. If that’s humiliation, then the West is under no obligation to alleviate it.

Lastly there’s the idea that Putin made overtures toward the West, only to be snubbed. I’d say there’s some truth to this argument. I believe that at least in the beginning, Putin did have a sincere desire to bring stability and prosperity to Russia, as well as closely integrate it into the West. You could argue about the Chechen war or the crackdown on media (whose owners were not necessarily objective nor innocent) that took place in the early Putin presidency, but I would say that literally anyone taking over from Yeltsin in that period would have been forced to make tough decisions. The system was already corrupt and authoritarian. I still believe that Putin could have taken a different route in the early 2000s, then if he left power he could have retired as true modernizer and savior of Russia, albeit with controversy. We would look at him the way we look at figures like Pilsudski or Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Yet not only did Western leaders, after a brief flirtation, give Putin the cold shoulder, but this was also the time when Western media seemed to criticize everything Putin did. Things that were ignored under Yeltsin, who was portrayed as the father of Russian democracy, were suddenly controversial and ominous under Putin. And of course, the press almost never failed to identify Putin as the “former KGB officer.”

At the same time, Putin came of age if you will, during the beginning of the War on Terror and more specifically, the war on Iraq. The latter, and especially the Bush doctrine behind it, had huge implications for Putin. For one thing, it ignited massive anti-American sentiment throughout the world, which would remain fresh for exploitation long after the initial invasion. Second, he learned that if you have the ability to project military power, you can do it so long as you make up some supposedly humanitarian pre-text. Bush had WMDs, whereas Putin would later use the excuse of protecting Russian speakers in the Crimea. Lastly, it confirmed a view held by Putin and many of his generation, that the United States doesn’t really believe in human rights or national sovereignty, but that it simply invokes these things as it pleases in order to serve its own interests. While Putin and others who believe this are wrong to think that the United States hasn’t grown and evolved from the monster that it was in the Gilded Age or during the Cold War, there are still plenty of examples of American hypocrisy when it comes to human rights- most notably the war in Yemen.

But the argument that Putin was snubbed by the West can’t totally explain away his own actions and decisions since that time. So Western leaders didn’t accept him as he wanted- did that mean he needed to construct an authoritarian, centralized system of kleptocracy? Wouldn’t it have been better for Putin to simply brush off the cold responses and busy himself with modernizing Russia, creating stable democratic institutions, and establishing rule of law? What better way to get back at leaders like Blair and Bush than by turning Russia into an economic powerhouse, one which actually stood by the principle of respecting national sovereignty? That, sadly, is not what Putin chose to do, of course. He and his cronies decided to use Russia’s natural wealth to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future, and rather than build a stable democratic system he created a cult of personality that revolves around him personally. And while Putin would love to point fingers at the West, the whole time he and his pals were robbing Russia, the West was more than happy to accept the dirty money and even invest massive amounts of capital into Russia. So in the end, the argument that Putin became Putin because he was rejected by the West ultimately fails.

Having gotten those arguments out of the way, there’s the ultimate obstacle to better US/Russia relations, which is Putin and his system. They want bad relations with the West and they need bad relations with the West, because the oil boom is over, their gas leverage is waning, and they squandered much of the wealth Russia produced over roughly a decade- the West is the scapegoat. The West, its dastardly fifth column and ultra-secret sixth column is necessary to explain why, in spite of being one of the richest nations in the world in terms of natural resources, Russia has only managed to achieve the economic power of Italy or Spain, but with much lower living standards, salaries, pensions, etc. People have been angry since 2011, and they need to be suppressed, ergo the must be labeled as Western-backed agents of revolution. Putin is literally fighting for survival, and the cult of personality built up around him doesn’t allow him to blink or make concessions. There’s nothing he can really offer in any negotiations.

This is why in the past I have criticized the so-called “realists” who say that the West needs to negotiate with Russia, yet never articulate what exactly Russia is going to give the West in exchange. Vague promises of cooperation are useless. Likewise Russia has shown that its word on treaties is essentially worthless (ask Ukraine). If the Kremlin is really so eager to engage with its “Western partners,” it needs to explain what it can offer in concrete terms.

Since the reality is that Putin will not and cannot actually offer anything of value to the West, and US president wishing to improve relations would have to talk over his head, to the Russian people. This would require a US president with actual knowledge of Russia, its history, and its culture. Ideally it would be a presidential candidate who can actually speak some Russian. But most of all it would have to be a president who is ready to acknowledge the many bad foreign policy choices of the United States so as to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy and head off the Kremlin’s attempts to use its favorite weapon whataboutism.

This US president needs to be sincere, and explain how the United States, over the years, has had to acknowledge the reality of sovereign states, and how it has often failed to be consistent in its application of human rights. They would have to stress that if Russia is serious about being a partner with other leading nations, it must abandon dreams of empire and spheres of influence and join those other nations in securing a world that respects international law and sovereignty. Of course these words must also be backed with action, for example in regards to Saudi Arabia and its war in Yemen. This president could invoke that example to show how the United States is ready to change and isn’t just trying to trick Russia into unilateral concession, as many Russians no doubt suspect. This hypothetical president would have to do all this and more, while also remaining firm about what the West demands of Russia- that it take responsibility for its own condition and stop undermining its neighbors like Ukraine.

Do I even need to point out at this point that Donald Trump is not the president who can do any of that, ever? Hell, I can’t imagine anyone in DC that I know of who could possibly do that. Hillary wouldn’t have been able to do it. Bernie couldn’t have done it. Anyone that has those skills and that knowledge probably has no shot of ever being elected president (I’m not announcing my candidacy at this time).

Therefore someone like Trump has no choice but to accept the same “deal” that the Kremlin has been offering for years now- let us do what we want, and we give you nothing but vague cooperation on “terrorism” and maybe something involving plutonium or missile quantities. Knowing Trump, the master deal-maker, it’s easy to see why his handlers in the White House, State Department, and intelligence communities are careful to limit and monitor his contacts with Putin and other Russians. Not only would he easily be manipulated by a far more intelligent individual like Putin or Lavrov, but he’d probably throw in Alaska if they gave him a gold fidget spinner or something. Then he’d go tweet about how the fake news media and the Dems are criticizing his master deal just because they’re still upset about his big electoral college win.

So to reiterate. Better relations with Russia are just fine, but actually achieving that goal is easier said than done. It would take a very special kind of negotiator, a rare type of politician. It would also require the Russian side to accept responsibility for the deterioration of relations. The West didn’t invade Ukraine and start a war- Russia did that, period. Repairing relations between countries is a two-way street.
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #756 on: August 05, 2017, 15:47:38 »
Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies annual symposium, Ottawa at Canadian War Museum--Dick Fadden, former CSIS Director, DM at DND, and PM's National Security Advisor, will be keynote speaker:
http://www.casis-acers.ca/annual-symposium/

Quote
CASIS Annual Symposium
Preliminary Program
Friday, September 29, 2017
RUSSIA AND THE WEST: TEMPORARY STALEMATE OR
IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

REGISTRATION:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/casis-annual-symposium-russia-and-the-west-temporary-stalemate-or-irreconcilable-differences-tickets-35345045984?

8:15               Registration, Coffee, Networking

9:00              Opening Remarks (Welcome and Program Overview)

President CASIS

9:15                Keynote Speaker: Richard Fadden, Former National Security Advisor, Privy Council Office

10:15              Break

10:30             Drivers of Russian Foreign Policy

Aurel Brown, University of Toronto: Domestic Drivers of Russian Foreign Policy

Tim Frye, Columbia, Russian Foreign Policy from an Economic/Market Perspective

Paul Robinson, University of Ottawa, Russia and Ukraine.

Presentation and Questions

12:00             Lunch

1:00                Russian Influence Operations

                       Clint Watts, Foreign Policy Research Institute. Russian Influence Operations.

 Presentation and Questions

2:00               Russian Military and Security Services

Greg Smolynec, Canada DND: The Russian Military

Margarete Klein, SWP: Russia’s military and security services

Presentations and Questions

3:00                Break

3:15                Russia and the US/Canada

Kimberly Marten, Columbia: Russia and the US

TBD: Canada and Russia: is there a Canadian role?

Presentations and Questions

4:15                Closing Speech/Overview

Irvin Studin, Global Brief

4:45               CASIS Annual Meeting and Election of Board
 
All speakers listed are confirmed. Titles for Presentations will be added.
Breaks and lunch are included in the Registration fee.

Final Summary Highlights from the CASIS 2016 Annual Symposium ["The Cyber Challenge"]
http://www.casis-acers.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Final-Summary-Highlights-from-the-CASIS-2016-Annual-Symposium.pdf

Mark
Ottawa

Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #757 on: August 10, 2017, 20:02:10 »
I know it's a great deal of smoke, mirrors and showmanship but Naval Day in St Petersburg is a good show nevertheless.

https://youtu.be/1bKTJ44GS5o
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #758 on: September 01, 2017, 22:51:36 »
I know it's a great deal of smoke, mirrors ...
Not as much smoke as some recent developments ...  (source for attachment) ;D
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #759 on: September 01, 2017, 22:54:48 »
Apparently the Cardinals of the Kremlin are trying to elect a new Putin. :)
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #761 on: September 11, 2017, 22:20:23 »
Low oil prices and economic sanctions have certainly taken their toll on reequipping the Russian Army:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/09/russia-getting-100-new-armata-tanks-and-usa-upgrades-abrams-again.html

Quote
Russia getting 100 new Armata tanks and USA upgrades Abrams againbrian wang | September 7, 2017 |   

The Russian Ground Forces are expected to receive up to 100 third-generation T-14 Armata main battle tanks (MBT), by 2020 and not the old plan for 2500 new tanks by 2020.

The T-14, an armored vehicle based on the “Armata” universal chassis system, is one of the world’s first battle tanks to feature an unmanned turret. The MBT’s main weapon system is a 2A82 125-millimeter smoothbore cannon, capable of firing high-powered munitions (10 shots a minute at an effective range of up to 7 kilometers). The 125-millimeter variant will be replaced with a more powerful 152 mm cannon in later versions.

General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), recently received two contract awards from the U.S. Army for Abrams main battle tank upgrades, which will boost the platform’s capabilities and help the Army lead the way into the future.

The company will design, develop and integrate multiple engineering changes into the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), creating a SEPv4 and further modernizing the tanks. Abrams main battle tanks are produced at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio.

The first contract is for SEPv4 upgrades, which include the Commander’s Primary Sight (formerly known as the Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer), an improved Gunner’s Primary Sight and enhancements to sensors, lethality and survivability. General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver seven prototype M1A2 SEPv4 tanks to the Army. The contract has an initial value of $311 million. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich.; Lima; Scranton, Pa.; and Tallahassee, Fla.

The second award was a $270 million contract from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command to produce 45 Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tanks. The first pilot vehicles, which feature technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency and upgraded armor, are expected to roll off the production line in fall 2017.

To put it in perspective this is slightly more than 2 tank battalions worth of tanks (indeed if many are taken for training, testing and evaluation etc then they may end up fielding one and a fraction of a battalion).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #762 on: September 14, 2017, 13:15:34 »
Russian wargames designed to head off colour revolutions?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russian-war-games-aim-to-head-off-another-color-revolution/2017/09/14/53aa93d8-9896-11e7-af6a-6555caaeb8dc_story.html?utm_term=.332378100999

Quote
Russia kicks off war games with Belarus as U.S., NATO watch anxiously
Russia and Belarus hold joint military exercise
 
Russia began a week-long military exercise with its ally Belarus on Sept. 14. (RU-RTR/AP)
By David Filipov September 14 at 4:02 AM

MINSK, Belarus — Russia on Thursday kicked off a week-long military exercise with its ally Belarus that has its NATO neighbors and the United States watching anxiously, but actually addresses one of Moscow’s primary fears.

Shortly after Russia’s Defense Ministry said the war games dubbed “Zapad,” or “West,” had begun, it announced that elements of its First Tank Army had been “put on alert” and moved into Belarus for the exercise. Airborne units stationed in Russia have also been put on alert and are getting ready to join the drills, the ministry said.

At a time of renewed Cold War-style tension between Russia and NATO, the symbolism couldn’t have been more striking. The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact once used the Zapad exercises to prepare for war with the West; that tank army’s job was to smash through NATO lines, including 300,000 U.S. troops.

The Russian announcement Thursday was accompanied by a reassurance repeated by Moscow for weeks, that the current exercise is “of an entirely defensive nature and is not aimed at any other states.” The Russian scenario for the games is a separatist incursion into Belarus spurred on by three imaginary countries, Veishnoriya, Lubeniya and Vesbasriya — in which NATO observers and others recognize Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.   

Concerns in the Western alliance were raised by the apparent difference between official Russian figures about the size of the exercise — 12,700 troops and 680 pieces of military equipment, including 138 tanks — and Western estimates, based on troop and equipment movements,  that the number could range from 70,000 to as many as 100,000 participants.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusan counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, will appear on the sidelines of the drills this weekend, a sign of how important the drills are to the Russian leader, who has vowed to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet region similar to the 2014 rebellions that established a pro-Western government in Ukraine.

The exercises — an update of Zapad war games held in 2009 and 2013 — show off a military that Putin has transformed into an effective force that has deployed to Syria and Ukraine in recent years.

The story line of the exercise sees militant groups linked to Veishnoriya and backed by the West cross the Belarus border, similar to the way “little green men,” widely assumed to be Russian soldiers, appeared in Ukraine in 2014 prior to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. The Russian forces cut off the insurgents’ access to the sea and air to prevent the Western coalition from providing backing to the separatists.

Western military officials have expressed concern that Zapad 2017 will serves as a “Trojan horse,” allowing Moscow to leave behind some of the military personnel and equipment it deployed for the drills. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Washington Post  last week that Russia could build trust and head off possible accidents by being more transparent.

On Thursday Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters, “We reject complaints of these exercises not being transparent.” He accused the West of “whipping up hysteria” as a “provocation.”

In Latvia, Foreign Minister ­Edgars Rinkevics told The Post that the country’s leaders are “not panicking” but are being “cautious” because “what we are seeing is that the exercises are of an offensive nature, they are exercising access and area denial, they are exercising against at least four NATO member states under the pretext that they are fighting [separatists].”

NATO, which has been conducting its own exercises in Europe this summer, has stationed four battalions — including U.S. troops — in the Baltic states and Poland.

Western officials in the Baltics last week said they saw the games as a rehearsal of the capability to seal off Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and deny access to the Baltic Sea to NATO forces attempting to come to their rescue. They also see a larger strategic goal: to demonstrate to U.S. and NATO leaders the high cost of defending the Baltics, and thus bringing into question the viability of the alliance.

In Belarus, the country’s small opposition, which fears Moscow could leave its troops in order to head off any attempt to remove Lukashenko from power, last week held a protest over the presence the Russian military.

Ishaan Tharoor in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Brussels contributed to this report.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« Reply #763 on: September 20, 2017, 17:11:51 »
Interesting, if true. Long term, it would seem to be more in Russia's interests to retain the resource base of Siberia than to focus on Kazakhstan, but logistics and lines of communication makes the idea of rebuilding a Greater Russia or Russian Empire Redux somewhat of a dubious prospect:

https://strategypage.com/on_point/20170919222549.aspx

Quote
Russia's War in Ukraine and War Games in Belarus
by Austin Bay
September 19, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin's personally expressed dismay at the collapse of the Soviet Union connects directly to two current events: Russia's war of conquest in Ukraine and the Russian Army's large-scale war games in western Russia and Belarus. By the way, the Russian military calls its war game enemy "The Western Coalition." The name deliberately incriminates NATO, the USSR's Cold War nemesis and an outfit on which Putin ritually blames 21st century Russian woes.

A minor dispute rages over the precise translation of Putin's April 25, 2005, USSR lamentation. Did he say that the USSR's demise was "a major geopolitical disaster of the (20th) century" or that it was the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century"?

The BBC and NBC News chose the "catastrophe" translation. Both renditions confirm the USSR's collapse appalled the former KGB colonel, who is now Russia's president.

Putin's dismay says a lot about him. The USSR was a Russian empire with Communist trappings. The czars portrayed themselves as defenders of Orthodox Christianity. The Communist dictators claimed they were the vanguard of global Marxism defending Workers' Paradise. Both regimes relied on gulags, secret police and state terror to maintain power.

Both appealed to Russian ethnic solidarity and nationalist aspirations. In WW2, when invading Nazi armies threatened his regime, Communist dictator Josef Stalin called on the people to defend Mother Russia, not communism.

Putin bewails the lot of Russians living in non-Russian, former Soviet territories. Putin repeatedly claims he must act to protect "cut off" Russians or secure "Russian rights" in these regions. The Kremlin invoked these justifications in 2008 during the Russo-Georgia War. They also provided propaganda cover for the 2014 invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Protecting ethnic Russians justifies Kremlin support for the rogue Transnistria statelet, a Russified sliver of Moldova. In different disguises (including peacekeeping contingents), the Kremlin has kept a Russian military force in Transnistria since 1992.

In early 2014, Russian agitators orchestrated incidents to "prove" the fiction that violent "Ukrainian fascists" threatened Russians living in Crimea. Such a dire situation! The Kremlin had to take all means necessary to protect ethnic Russians. The Kremlin made the same claim when its proxy forces invaded eastern Ukraine. It continues to use the propaganda trope.

But on March 18, 2014, the Kremlin didn't protect people -- it seized territory and annexed Crimea to Russia. For the first time since WW2, military aggression in Europe by a major European power led to political annexation and territorial expansion. Moreover, Russia violated the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, a multi-lateral diplomatic agreement guaranteeing Ukraine's territorial integrity. That agreement helped stabilize post-Cold War Eastern Europe.

The Crimean annexation and the war with Ukraine are evidence Putin intends to rebuild the USSR, or at least control key parts that would make Greater Russia a global power.

RUBK -- pronounced "rubik" as in in the puzzle Rubik's Cube -- is an acronym for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Under Kremlin control, the RUBK would have the demographics and natural resources to once again make Greater Russia a global power.

Super-power status takes money and a large number of people (how large is arguable, but 200 million is a plausible figure).

Russia needs Ukraine's immense agricultural productivity.

Russia already wields immense political and economic influence in Kazakhstan; the country is essentially a Kremlin satrap. At the moment Belarus escapes complete Kremlin control. However, several analysts claim the huge on-going war game in Belarus could easily mask an invasion of the country. What does Belarus do if the Russian Army just decides to stay?

Perhaps the Kremlin intends to forward deploy Russian tank divisions in Belarus. Belarus is a route to Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic. The Kremlin wants to "re-connect" Kaliningrad. However, Lithuania and a sliver of Polish territory known as the Suwalki Gap separate Belarus from Kaliningrad. Russians in Kaliningrad are definitely "cut off."

Polish Army units defend the gap. Remember, Poland is a NATO nation, an armed member of that great Western coalition.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.