The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict: Roots and Prospects

The current conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began in the second half of the 1980s, but its roots are deeper, reaching back at least to the first quarter of the 20th century. In this lecture, Dr. Tomáš Hoch places these problematic aspects of mutual Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in their historical context and links them with the current conflict and the future.

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Wormhole Escalation in the New Nuclear Age

Increasingly capable and intrusive digital information technologies, advanced dual-use military capabilities, and diffused global power structures will reshape future crises and conflicts between nuclear-armed adversaries and challenge traditional ways of thinking about escalation and stability. This emerging security environment will require new concepts and tools to manage the risk of unintended escalation and reduce nuclear dangers.

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On the Fundaments of the Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence

Many Western Russian specialists wrote about this document, including myself. This piece is of special importance, since it was written by Major General Sterlin, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces and Colonel A.L. Khryapin, the chief researcher at the Center for Military-Strategic Studies of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces for an internal audience, mostly to the Russian Armed Forces troops. This means it is the official position of the Armed Forces and any analysis must take it into the consideration. My comments are in green.

The highest priority of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of national security is to ensure nuclear deterrence as the basis for strategic deterrence

Major General Sterlin A.E., Head of the Directorate of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Honored Military Specialist of the Russian Federation

Colonel Khryapin A.L. – Chief Researcher at the Center for Military-Strategic Studies of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Doctor of Military Sciences

Krasnaya zvezda, August 7, 2020, p. 3

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The growing negative trends in the world, accompanying the process of the formation of a new system of global and regional security, contributes to the creation of prerequisites for the activation of current (as well as emergence of new) threats to the military security of the Russian Federation, which may develop into military conflicts of various scales and intensity.
The most important postulate of ensuring the military security of our state is the guaranteed deterrence of any potential enemy, as well as part of a coalition, from unleashing military aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies. It is based on the combat capabilities of the domestic Armed Forces (primarily nuclear forces) to inflict “unacceptable damage” on the aggressor in any, even the most critical conditions of the situation (retaliation strike).

That is why the top priority of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of military and national security in general is to ensure nuclear deterrence as the basis for strategic deterrence.

The official views of the Russian Federation on nuclear deterrence in modern conditions were publicly declared on June 2, 2020 in the “Fundaments of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence” (hereinafter – the Fundaments). It should be emphasized that the appearance of the document of this level in public space occurred for the first time in the entire history of the Soviet Union – and the Russian Federation as its legal successor.

There isn’t anything really new in this document. It is an amalgamation of other documents. The Military Doctrine is still a better document reflecting the views on nuclear deterrence.

Being the document of strategic planning in the field of military security, the Fundaments define the dangers and threats, in order to neutralize which nuclear deterrence is carried out, the basic principles and subjects of deterrence and, most importantly, the conditions for a possible transition to the use of nuclear weapons.

The publication of the Fundamentals caused a wide response in foreign and domestic media and came as a surprise to most experts in the field of nuclear weapons, whose opinions diverged on a number of key provisions of this document.

For example, the media of the United States and its NATO allies emphasize the “aggressiveness” of Russia’s policy, its desire to “justify the creation of its new strategic weapons,” “lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” and split the bloc’s ranks. In order to intimidate its NATO allies, especially on the eastern flank, the United States credits Russia with a non-existent concept of “escalation for escalation.”

The concept exists and was discussed in many Russian publications. Two good examples are: V.V. Kruglov and M.E. Sosnovskiy, “On the role of nonstrategic nuclear means in nuclear deterrence,” Military Thought, no. 6 (1997); V.I. Levshin, A.V. Nedelin, and M.E. Sosnovskiy, “On the employment of nuclear weapons for the de-escalation of military actions,” Military Thought, no. 3 (1999). A fair question is if is it doctrine or not.

More balanced publications by “neutral” specialists speak of Russia’s desire to give international legitimacy to Russian initiatives in the field of nuclear deterrence amid aggressive American steps to build up strike weapons and break the system of international arms control treaties.
At the same time, a number of Western experts and most domestic experts note the timeliness of the document’s appearance and Russia’s desire to curb the arms race unleashed by the United States, the militarization of space, the modernization of the American missile defense and the demolition of the international security system. They view the declaration of conditions for a possible transition to the use of nuclear weapons as a warning about the futility of “force pressure” on Russia and its readiness for armed defense of its national interests.

For an objective assessment of Russia’s approach to nuclear deterrence, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the military-political conditions under which our state took a truly unprecedented step and for the first time in the history of possession of nuclear weapons published its vision of its role and place in the overall national security system.
The 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) identifies the following key provisions that have a significant impact on nuclear deterrence:

– for the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been declared an adversary of the United States with all the ensuing consequences;

– the possibility of the preventive use of nuclear weapons has been declared;

– it is planned to radically re-equip the nuclear forces, including the creation of new modern sea-based cruise missiles and ultra-low-power nuclear weapons.

Well, because the Russian have been doing this too, especially following the concept of 6th Generation Warfare. General Gerasimov openly stated this is a clear objective of the Russian Armed Forces in some speeches.

At the same time, nuclear weapons with the creation of such ammunition, in fact, become “weapons of the battlefield”, which, of course, will lead to a decrease in the threshold for their use.

Some people argue that, during the Cold War, Russian commanders considered nuclear weapons just another weapon. I really don’t remember the source, but remember this discussion. It might not be true.

Almost simultaneously with the adoption of the new nuclear doctrine in the United States, the concept of missile defense development with a number of new provisions was adopted:

– the main focus of the global missile defense system is to neutralize missile threats of all types, primarily from Russia and China, therefore, deployed components, including the European missile defense system, are initially directed against Russian strategic missiles;

– the creation of strike weapons of the missile defense space echelon is declared, that is, there is a return to the 40-year-old Strategic Defense Initiative program, within which the widest range of such means was considered: kinetic miniature interceptors, space lasers, space platforms with weapons based on new physical principles;

– it is planned to recreate airborne laser weapon systems, including those based on a heavy-class unmanned aerial vehicle;

– a new line of interception of ballistic missiles is introduced, the so-called “zero” echelon of missile defense, when the impact on ballistic missiles is carried out not in flight, but at launch positions, that is, a strike is performed at launchers in the positional areas of missile divisions, at aircraft at home airfields and missile carriers in naval bases.

It should be emphasized that the introduction of the zero echelon of missile defense erases the line between offensive (strike) and defensive weapons.

The destabilizing factors should include the creation of space forces in the United States in 2019 and their readiness to deploy strike weapons in space, since in accordance with the Defense Space Strategy of the US Department of Defense, announced in June 2020, space has been declared a theatre for conducting military operations.

In our opinion, all these steps by the American leadership are aimed at implementing the Global Strike concept with the use of promising strike weapons, including hypersonic ones, but with only one proviso – that all these weapons can also be nuclear.

Russia too. The question is to develop the technology.

It all came together – all the steps taken by the United States in the field of strategic weapons over the past two decades are links in one chain and are aimed at achieving military-technical superiority of the United States in order to maintain its global leadership in the world and ensure, as it seems to them, victory in possible future wars over any country in the world, primarily over Russia, including due to its economic weakening by being drawn into another arms race.

We must not forget about the US allies in the NATO bloc either. Taken together, NATO has a significant advantage over Russia in systems of strategic non-nuclear weapons and general-purpose forces, which in the context of the bloc’s expansion and its approach directly to the borders of Russia forces our state to respond to existing military threats and threats to its security.

In order to bring the Russian position on nuclear deterrence to the attention of the global community and the military-political leadership of the states – potential adversaries, there were declared a number of conceptual provisions set out in the Fundaments.

1. Once again, it has been doctrinally confirmed that the “nuclear policy” of the Russian Federation is purely defensive in nature.

This is not a mere declaration, but the cornerstone of the general policy of our state, on which strategic deterrence has been and is being built. Russia is not going to attack anyone, but will take all steps to neutralize any aggression against our country. This approach reflects a strategy of active deterrence and can be described as “active defense”. At the same time, Russia is making and will make all the necessary efforts to reduce the nuclear threat.

2. Nuclear deterrence is aimed at ensuring that the potential adversary, including the coalition, understands the inevitability of retaliation in the event of aggression against Russia and its allies – inflicting unacceptable damage on it in a retaliatory strike.

In its essence, nuclear deterrence is a specific form of the reflexive policy of our state, carried out by influencing mainly the military-political leadership of a potential adversary through the conviction of the inevitability of negative consequences for him as a result of the guaranteed use by the Russian Federation of forces and means of nuclear deterrence.

3. The core of nuclear deterrence is the combat capabilities of nuclear forces of various basing, therefore, maintaining the nuclear potential at a level sufficient to ensure deterrence is one of the priority tasks of our state.

At the same time, the minimum sufficiency of combat-ready forces and means is stated, capable, due to the rationality of their structure and composition, methods of use, as well as high combat readiness, to ensure the infliction of unacceptable damage to any potential enemy in any development of the military-political and strategic situation.

This means that Russia will not be drawn into a grueling nuclear arms race; priority is given not to quantitative, but to their qualitative composition.

4. It was emphasized that the main military threats, to neutralize which nuclear deterrence is being carried out, emanate from the collective West and are associated with the build-up of general-purpose groupings near the borders of the Russian Federation. These groupings, among other things, are armed with means of delivering nuclear weapons, with the deployment of systems and means Missile defense, strike weapons for various purposes and basing, including space.

5. Two groups of states are identified as subjects of nuclear deterrence:

– individual states possessing nuclear and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction or significant combat potential of general-purpose forces that consider the Russian Federation as a potential adversary, as well as military coalitions (blocs, alliances) with the participation of these states;

– states that provide their national territory for the deployment of strategic offensive weapons (cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic aircrafts, attack unmanned aerial vehicles), strategic anti-missile defense systems, radar stations of the nuclear missile strike warning system, nuclear weapons and (or) others types of weapons of mass destruction of other states that can be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

The point here is, in clear words, Poland and the Baltic States.

The first group of states does not raise questions, while the highlighting of the second group is a warning to the leadership of these states that they have to think very well before giving permission to deploy strategic offensive weapons of other states on their territory.

6. The above principles of nuclear deterrence are well known and determine the main directions of our state’s policy to ensure deterrence. This also applies to the centralization of control, the constant readiness of forces and means, and the rationality of their structure and composition.

Compliance with international obligations in the field of arms control is a priority for Russia. Our state has always respected and will abide by all the international obligations it has assumed.
The continuity of measures to ensure deterrence means that all measures of a military and non-military nature are carried out in a comprehensive manner within the framework of the nuclear deterrence mechanism in peacetime, during the period of an imminent threat of aggression and in wartime at all stages of the emergence and development of a military conflict, up to the beginning of the massive use of nuclear weapons.

The adaptability of deterrence to military threats presupposes the choice of certain deterrent measures (actions) depending on the existing and emerging military threats to Russia’s security, which are determined on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of the military-political and strategic situation in the world and military dangers for Russia in the short, medium-term and long-term perspective.

7. For the first time in a public space, conditions have been declared that determine the possibility of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

The first condition is related to the receipt of reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of Russia and (or) its allies. The very fact of a ballistic missile launch will be recorded by a missile attack warning system.

At the same time, there will be no possibility to determine the type of its equipment (nuclear or non-nuclear). Therefore, any attacking missile will be positioned as a nuclear-armed missile. Information about the launch of the missile in automatic mode will be communicated to the military-political leadership of Russia, which, depending on the prevailing situation, will determine the scale of the response actions of the nuclear forces.

Conditions on the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction by the enemy, on the impact on critical targets of Russia, on aggression with the use of conventional weapons should not raise questions from experts.

If the question is posed about target setting of aggression against Russia, which has a significant nuclear potential, one can give a concrete answer – the destruction of Russia as a state.

Thus, in the Fundamentals, Russia has outlined “red lines”, which we do not advise anyone to cross. If a potential adversary decides to do this, then the answer will no doubt be overwhelming.

At the same time, the specification of response actions (where, when, how much) will be determined by the military-political leadership of Russia, depending on the situation.

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The Russian Military Digest 02/20

This is the second Newsletter. Enjoy reading and subscribe to receive the next one, since I won’t be publishing them here.

The Russian Military Digest 2/20

06 August 2020

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Dear Reader,

This is a personal project, the result of wanting to share with you the most relevant Russian military news I read on a daily basis. With few exceptions, they are in Russian and the excerpts are my own quick (poor) translation without great care for literary perfection. I don’t alter the content or the rhetoric either. This means you will read what the Russian audience reads, including their version of the facts.

If you find this is Newsletter useful, please spread the word. Feel free to forward it to people who might think it interesting. To subscribe please go to https://www.berzins.eu/newsletter/.

Enjoy reading!

India Invites Russia to Build a New Geopolitical Reality

Vzglad, 03 August 2020 – https://vz.ru/world/2020/7/30/1052481.html

Russia was invited to participate in a very suspicious (at least at first) integration process by one of its most important partners – India. The most dangerous thing that can be discussed in this case is the creation of an anti-Chinese coalition, in which Moscow categorically does not want to participate. The concept of deterrence of China and its strategic environment requires the participation of all major regional players, primarily India. A nuclear power bordering China and controlling the sea lanes between Europe and the Middle East on the one hand and East Asia on the other. Washington is interested in New Delhi joining the American anti-Chinese bloc, especially given China’s increasingly aggressive behavior and the clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Himalaya. India is quite worried about China. According to some Indian experts, Beijing sees India as a sort of puppet state supported by Japan, the United States and several other countries trying to prevent China’s rise. In any case, India does not believe that the USA would be willing to send troops to help against a Chinese (or Chinese-Pakistani) attack. Also, there’s a problem with American conditionality. India will have to stop purchasing Russian weapons and cooperation with Iran. Thus, India will continue to stand on its concept and do not subscribe to American vision. To counterbalance American influence, the inclusion of Russia following India’s vision could allay the suspicions of the Chinese that the Indians under the guise of cooperation and partnership assemble an anti-China bloc. In the end, it might be beneficial for Russia because of the Russian-Indian “Maritime silk road” (transportation corridor from Vladivostok to Chennai), which might end with the triangle Russia – India – China becoming a reality.

Not only Tanks Rumbled

Krasnaya zvezda, 03 August 2020 –http://redstar.ru/ne-tolko-tanki-grohotali/

One thousand five hundred servicemen and about 500 units of military equipment were involved in the regimental tactical exercise at the Mulino training facility. The command post detected the enemy. Its number of significantly exceeds our forces. The command decides to deploy the motorized rifle regiment as a mobile defense. The main task is to keep the “enemy” on three lines of defense and inflict maximum damage on its forces. The “enemy” forces (up to a motorized rifle battalion) bypass positions on the right flank. Another company is moving in the direction of the Mulino village. At an altitude of 200 m, the radar reconnaissance forces discovered two targets [helicopters]. The regiment commander, Colonel Yevgeny Murashev, gives the order to attack. The crew of the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) “Grad” enters into action, and brings down the helicopters. The regiment’s reconnaissance, using a drone, “spotted” a convoy of military vehicles in the forest area and up to a battalion of “enemy” manpower. T-72B3 tanks enter the battle. Today’s modernized combat vehicles have an improved Sosna-U sighting system allowing the gunner to detect a target not only during the day but also at night using a second-generation thermal imaging camera. The tanks are also equipped with weather sensors, which automatically make adjustments to the tank’s operation, depending on weather conditions. With the strike, the “enemy” retreats. When the “enemy” is entrenched in the front line, an order is given from the command post to attack it with the Kornet anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The 2nd motorized rifle battalion took the main blow of the “enemy”. It managed to keep the “enemy” on the first line as long as possible. After assessing the situation, the command decided to regroup our forces on the third line of defense. As Colonel Avdeev later explained, retreating to reserve positions, the regiment counterattacked the “enemy”. However, it is too early to think about it, the “enemy” is strong and utterly confident in his victory. Military chemists are involved. The Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Protection unit literally swaddles the area along the forest with haze, masking our forces’ withdrawal. The “enemy” has to postpone a further offensive, which is what the valiant motorized riflemen of the Vislenskaya division are trying to achieve. As it turned out later, the meaning of a maneuverable defense was to gain as much time as possible by holding the “enemy” and regrouping the regiment’s forces to counterattack. The regiment’s personnel were ordered to counterattack the “enemy”, the leading edge of which was significantly battered by defensive fire. Now it’s up to the motorized riflemen, their offensive completes the complete defeat of the “enemy”. This exercise, which was observed by the commander of the Red Banner Combined Arms Army of the Guards, Lieutenant General Andrei Ivanaev, became a kind of exam following the results of a three-month training of the personnel of the motorized rifle regiment, which arrived at the Mulino training ground from the Belgorod region.

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Lukashevich on the Causes of its Crisis

Kommersant, 03 August 2020 –https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4441230

The main points of the interview:

– The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European security system as a whole are going through extremely difficult times, while Russia has always remained committed to the OSCE and is confident in the organization’s potential, said Alexander Lukashevich, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE.

– At first, the United States was simply skeptical about attempts to create a common European security structure. Then, it began to actively oppose this initiative since it could become a competitor to NATO.

– The United States sought to prevent competitors’ emergence for the security structures it supervises or is ideologically close to it, including the European Union. Because of it, all our attempts to reform the OSCE are blocked.

– We strive for Americans to understand that with the creation of the CSCE/OSCE the pan-European process has taken on a large-scale character. The Astana Declaration of 2010 emphasized the importance of the task of forming a security community that will be based on cooperation and will encompass Europe, the Euro-Atlantic, and Eurasia. Again, no one is working on this idea, because it would undermine the basis of decision-making in other Euro-Atlantic structures. There is a geostrategic competition.

– There is no question of Russia’s withdrawal from the organization since Russia has always remained very clearly committed to the OSCE – with all the nuances and flaws of this organization.

– We see all of its (OSCE -IF) shortcomings. At the same time, we are convinced that the potential of this organization is far from being exhausted. Moreover, slamming the door is not our method. And the OSCE is a unique platform for dialogue and cooperation. It can and should be strengthened, but this requires political will.

Changing wheels: New Armored Vehicles will Change the Face of the Airborne Forces

Izvestia, 03 August 2020 –https://vz.ru/news/2020/7/27/1051950.html

The first troops to receive the newest Typhoon- Airborne armored vehicles will be reconnaissance units and special-purpose units of the Airborne Forces. The vehicles that began arriving to the paratroopers this year are well protected from bullets and shrapnel and are armed with rapid-fire automatic cannons. In the future, airmobile units may be equipped with them. According to experts, this technique will radically increase the mobility and security of the paratroopers. The new wheeled vehicles may be useful both in airborne assault and airmobile units. Their main application is landing without the use of parachutes. Aircrafts land with equipment and personnel at airfields near the combat zone or in occupied territories behind enemy lines. From there, the paratroopers can move into the designated area in well-armed and armored wheeled vehicles with a large range.

The Naval Exercises “Ocean Shield-2020” Began in the Baltic

Izvestia, 03 August 2020 –https://iz.ru/1043335/2020-08-03/krupnye-ucheniia-vmf-okeanskii-shchit-2020-nachalis-na-baltike

The Russian Navy “Ocean Shield-2020” exercises began in the Baltic Sea with more than 30 warships and units of the Coastal Forces, Air Defense and Marine Corps, and Naval Aviation under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov. During the first stage, the ships will perform mine-action missions, artillery firing, and practical launches of shock and anti-aircraft missiles. According to the Rusian MoD, the objective is to repel the enemy’s airstrikes, defeat its naval forces, search for and destroy submarines, and perform tactical landing assaults.

Russia Reacted to the US Decision to the Number of Soldiers in Poland

Vzglad, 03 August 2020 –https://vz.ru/news/2020/8/3/1053194.html

The US decision to increase the number of American soldiers in Poland has political objectives and forces Russia to strengthen its capabilities in this region, said Yuri Shvytkin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee. “1,000 troops is approximately the size of the regiment. The larger the number of NATO [military personnel] in Europe, the less security in the region. At the same time, according to the former head of the international treaty department of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky, Washington’s decision does not pose significant threats to Russia, so this step should not be exaggerated. “Trump is trying to minimize costs. The maintenance of servicemen abroad is not cheap. Although Poland offered to support them at its own expense, I think they will not be for a long time, since the Polish “at its own expense” is at the expense of the EU and at the expense of Germany, first of all.”

“Yars” with a Belarusian Accent

VPK, 04 August 2020 –https://vpk-news.ru/articles/58061

The Strategic Missile Forces of Russia are dependent on Lukashenka’s tractors. When projecting nuclear weapons, designers are required to consider 100% of domestic components and materials. However, in the case of mobile ground missile systems, it became a problem. The wheeled chassis of the Yars ICBM launcher is produced at the Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant (MZKT). Other systems using Belarussian platforms include the systems Smerch, Iskander-M, Buk-2M, S-400, and coastal missile systems “Bal” and “Bastion.”

A Russian MiG-31 Intercepted a Norwegian Aircraft over the Barents Sea

Izvestia, 04 August 2020 –https://iz.ru/1043943/2020-08-04/rossiiskii-mig-31-perekhvatil-samolet-norvegii-nad-barentcevym-morem

The Russian airspace control devices over the Barents Sea’s neutral waters detected an air target approaching the state border of the Russian Federation. A MiG-31 fighter from the Northern Fleet’s air defense forces intercepted the target and identified a Norwegian Air Force Falcon 20 electronic reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft. After the aircraft turned around the border, the Russian fighter returned to its base.

“Small war” on a global scale

VPK, 04 August 2020 –https://vpk-news.ru/articles/58050

“Little war” and covert operations will definitely become the mainstream in conditions when the correct “hot” fight between the planetary poles of power has become suicidal. When the nuclear missile deadlock is obvious. And if the country does not engage in this direction of military affairs, then all its strategic submarine cruisers, hypersonic prowling warheads, and cruise missiles, multiply charged ballistic “Sarmat” and transoceanic torpedoes “Poseidon” will turn out to be expensive but useless toys that can never be used, but they will drain the country’s economy with huge unproductive costs.

Artillerymen of the Central Military District in the Urals have worked out non-standard methods of warfare

Apiural, 05 August 2020 –http://www.apiural.ru/news/society/151062/

The servicemen of the self-propelled artillery regiment of the Guards Tank Division of the Central Military District (TsVO) have worked out non-standard methods of warfare during an, which ended today at the Chelyabinsk Region. During the exercise, the crews of the Grad multiple launch rocket systems and the Akatsiya self-propelled artillery trained the procedures for protecting a military echelon on the move and during unloading at a railway station from a hypothetical enemy’s reconnaissance and strike groups. Then the artillery crews, having occupied the area of ​​combat destination, proceeded to fire engagement of single and group targets of the enemy, while repelling the attacks of the enemy reconnaissance and sabotage groups. At the same time, the regiment fought a contact battle with the enemy’s reconnaissance and sabotage groups. The exercise’s primary objectives were to maintain a high density of fire on the enemy in the presence and absence of fire contact with its sabotage groups. In total, about 600 servicemen from artillery and reconnaissance units, as well as support services and over 150 units of military equipment were involved in the exercise. The innovation of the exercises’ design consists of allowing the enemy’s DRG to penetrate the immediate rear of our troops, which is very likely to occur in modern military operations.

Ukraine in NATO? Will Ukraine Become a Platform for the Invasion of Russia?

Ria Novosti,05 August 2020 –https://ria.ru/20200805/1575346111.html

The gradual abandonment of Kalashnikov assault rifles, participation in joint exercises, exchange of intelligence information – Ukrainian politicians and generals are very confident with the status of “NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partner” (EOP). In their opinion, this is very close to joining the Alliance. The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that Kyiv has become a NATO EOP exclusively for political reasons. “Whatever NATO may say about this decision, the political background is obvious – in conditions when Kyiv openly sabotages the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which the alliance itself has spoken out many times. Kyiv continues to wage war in Donbas. It cannot be assessed otherwise than purposeful encouragement of this destructive course conducted by the Ukrainian authorities,” – according to Maria Zakharova, the speaker of the Russian MFA. At the same time, Moscow is constantly paying attention to the systematic US buildup of military aid to Kyiv. In particular, the draft US defense budget for 2021 provides tens of millions of dollars for arms supplies to Ukraine. By such actions, Washington supports the “war party” in Kyiv. It encourages the course of the Ukrainian authorities to sabotage the Minsk agreements and the continuation of hostilities in the Donbas.

Shoigu: Equipment Modernization Should Reach 70%

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 05 August 2020 –https://www.ng.ru/armies/2020-08-05/2_7929_news2.html

The equipment of troops with modern types of weapons by the end of 2020 should reach 70%, said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “We must fulfill the state defense order by 100% and reach the 70% level while maintaining a high level of equipment serviceability,” the minister said on Wednesday. His deputy Alexei Krivoruchko, in turn, said that in the first half of 2020, the share of modern weapons in the army and in the navy was 68.5%. “The plans for the supply of aircraft were fulfilled by 44%, helicopters – by 59%, multi-purpose vehicles – by 30.”

A Large Bilateral Tactical Exercise with the Participation of More than 4,000 Military Personnel of the Air Defense Forces was Completed in the Amur Region

Minoborony, 06 August 2020 –https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12305650@egNews

An extensive bilateral tactical exercise with two motorized rifle formations of the Eastern Military District was completed with a stage of live firing and a drawing of a maneuver battle. For ten days, military groups confronted each other at training grounds in the Amur Region. During the exercise, the formations worked out the subunits’ actions in defense and offensive. A distinctive feature of the exercise was the expanded use of automated control systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-aircraft vehicles, and the improvement of the Azart’s control system. During the exercise, the tank subunits carried out lightning-fast counterattacks, deep raids deep into the enemy’s defenses and organizing tank ambushes using the KRUS Strelets and Tachyon UAVs. Special attention was paid to the development of new means of reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and communications. New tactical techniques and a set of camouflage measures were tried. More than 4,000 servicemen took part in the exercise, with 800 pieces of equipment, including modern T-80BV tanks, Msta-S and Akatsiya self-propelled artillery, modernized Grad multiple launch rocket systems and other modern equipment.

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33 Wagner Contractors Arrested in Belarus

Last night, the forces of group “A” of the KGB with the support of the OMON GUVD of the Minsk city executive committee detained 32 militants of the foreign private military company Wagner. In addition, one more person was found and detained in the south of the country.

According to sources from the Belarussian law enforcement agencies, there was information about the arrival of more than 200 militants in Belarus to engage in destabilization operations during the Presidential election campaign. Each man had small hand luggage and three large heavy suitcases.

Upon arrival in the capital on the night of July 24-25, the group checked into one of the hotels in Minsk and was supposed to check out on July 25. They left the hotel on July 27 and moved to one of the sanatoriums in the Minsk region.

According to the sanatorium’s administration, the visitors drew attention to their uncharacteristic behavior for Russian tourists and uniform military-style clothing. They did not use alcohol, did not visit entertainment establishments, kept themselves apart, and tried to not attract attention. They carefully studied the territory and surroundings of the sanatorium in small groups. 

The list of detained citizens of the Russian Federation is:

1. Milaev Arem Viktorovich, born 02/01/1981;

2. Bakhtigaraev Takhir Minigayanovich, born on April 18, 1980;

3. Altukhov Alexander Viktorovich, born on April 18, 1980;

4. Lee Vladimir Alexandrovich, born on July 26, 1989;

5. Kozhevnikov Andrey Yurievich, born January 16, 1980;

6. Sapronov Alexey Vladimirovich, born on 08.07.1978;

7. Shcherbakov Sergey Vladimirovich, born on July 21, 1981;

8. Volgin Alexey Vladimirovich, born June 21, 1975;

9. Driga Oleg Igorevich, born 03.06.1986;

10. Pavlenko Sergey Grigorievich, born June 25, 1976;

11. Rudenko Alexander Svyatoslavovich, born on 26.12.1984;

12. Kharitonov Denis Yurievich, born on March 16, 1980;

13. Sidorov Sergey Alexandrovich, born 01.01.1972;

14. Koshman Maxim Yaroslavovich, born on 06.09.1981,

15. Bubnov Sergey Gennadievich, born on 08.01.1971;

16. Nizhnik Pavel Alexandrovich, born June 24, 1987;

17. Selikhov Vladimir Ivanovich, born on 04.10.1986;

18. Fetisov Gennady Evgenievich, born on October 22, 1986;

19. Fomin Mikhail Nikolaevich, born 03/07/1973,

20. Ekimov Vladimir Sergeevich, born on October 19, 1973;

21. Karimov Rinat, born on August 15, 1984;

22. Shubin Alexander, born January 15, 1996;

23. Shelomentsev Igor, born on August 18, 1975;

24. Maslov Sergey Alekseevich, born September 29, 1988;

25. Zaydulen Rustem, born 06.10.1974;

26. Tokarenko Andrey Viktorovich, born on January 24, 1965;

27. Serdyukov Andrey Viktorovich, born on August 16, 1975;

28. Sergeev Fedor Mikhailovich, born 05.17.1987;

29. Tanov Rafik Kabulovich, born on April 30, 1975;

30. Zyablitsev Evgeniy Sergeevich, 23.11.1992;

31. Samarin Pavel Lvovich, 11.11.1981 year of birth;

32. Bakunovich Andrey Petrovich, born on 30.12.1977;

33. Shatskiy Artem, born July 30, 1982.

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Russian Malign Influence in The UK

Last week the British Parliament published a report about Russian malign influence in the UK. A considerable debate followed, ignoring Russia’s motivations and strategic objectives in the United Kingdom and in the West. Russia’s ambitions were described as “Russia’s substantive aims, however, are relatively limited: it wishes to be seen as a resurgent ‘great power’ – in particular, dominating the countries of the former USSR – and to ensure that the privileged position of its leadership clique is not damaged.” It’s much more than that. This view is too simplistic and obscures the understanding of their objectives. The discussions have been concentrating on “Putin and his cronies”, “the mafia state”, etc. This obfuscates the debate about our own problems, which they use against us. Besides, it doesn’t help much to understand their way of thinking and gives the false feeling to know what they’re after.

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The Russian Military Import Substitution Program: Still Struggling

The independence of the Russian defense industry on foreign components has been on the table for years. There have been many talks about import substitution, vast sums of money were spent, but the situation hasn’t considerably changed. Since Crimea’s annexation, this issue became even more relevant. First, because of the economic sanctions. Second, because of the interdependence between the Russian and the Ukrainian military-industrial complexes.

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Another problem has been the relationship between the Armed Forces and the Russian Military-Industrial Complex, which is still problematic, although it was even worse until 2014. On the one hand, the military often complain that the industrial sector is unable to fulfill the procurement demands and that the Armed Forces’ needs aren’t matched. Quality is considerably low. On the other hand, the industrial sector complains that the Armed Forces don’t know what to procure, including the technical specifications and requirements. In other words, the industrial sector complains that the Armed Forces don’t know what they want. There’s poor planning.

Nevertheless, from 2008 the result was that the industrial lobby was able to impose its specifications and norms on the Armed Forces. In 2012, the then Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov even blackmailed the Military-Industrial Complex saying that “if you don’t provide us with what we want, we’ll buy foreign on-the-shelf full-scale systems. This was one of the most critical factors for Serdyukov being substituted by Shoigu, who has been less confrontational. It didn’t work as expected, because of MoD officials lobbying the interests of the industrial sector.

The relationship deteriorated on such a scale that in December 2014, Putin decided to renew the Military-Industrial Commission (in Russian “VPK” like the newspaper). Its role has been to be a coordination platform between the MoD and the industry to promoting consensus and compromising. And since 2016 to promote import substitution and stimulate technological development.

In 2016 it was disclosed that some 800 weapons systems’ production depends on foreign components from NATO and EU countries, and the Security Council returned to the discussions about import substitution. Although it has been happening for decades, it never really happened despite the luges amounts of money invested. This time, the VPK asked the domestic industry to replace 127 items. One year later, in 2017, they managed seven. There isn’t more recent information.

The volume of civilian dual-use systems is supposed to increase by 30% in 2025 and by 50% in 2030. The logic is to follow the same model as the United States since the 1950s, the one of the military-industrial complex and military Keynesianism. There’s a good story about this. A real one. When the Americans had to go to space, they faced a problem. How to write with a fountain pen without gravity? They developed a pen for that, which gave the technical base for the modern pens we use today. And the Soviet Union? They used a pencil.

And this is the biggest problem. Most of the technology Russia has is still from Soviet times. There is no serious financing for Research and Development Programs. The Russians are also convinced that the best is to exploit possible spillovers with the oil and gas sector, but the industry lacks economic complexity. Although such spillovers might be good at the sectoral level, they won’t promote economic development. Nor reduce the dependence on Western technologies.

Another serious problem for the Russian military industry has been the war with Ukraine. Before Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, some sixty Ukrainian companies produced ship engines, and aircrafts and their components for the Russian military. It included nuclear weapons’ key components like the R-36M missile system and the Voyevoda RS-20 missile (which in NATO is known as the SS-18 Satan). It was developed in the 1980s in the Dnepropetrovsk Design Bureau “Yuzhny” and produced in the same place by “Yuzhmash.”

The Russian MoD has announced plans to dispose it, but at the same time, there is information that their service life is being extended. The obvious conclusion is that the Russians still don’t have a replacement for these systems yet. The deployment of the Sarmat (Satan 2) missiles is expected for no sooner than 2021. Another example is the TOPOL-M, which was developed in the Kyiv Arsenal Plant. There are rumors they will be completely withdrawn from service in 2021 to be replaced with Russian-made Yars and Yars-M missile systems.

The production plans of ships also had to be adjusted because there are no modern Russian ships engines. At the beginning of the modernization program, the MoD counted on the Ukrainian Zorya-Mashproekt’s gas turbine engines. Some ships were designed to use these engines, including the Project 11356 “Patrol Guards,” the Project 22350 “Frigates” and Project 21956 “Multi-Purpose Destroyers.” In September of 2019, the Russian government announced that the United Engine Corporation, the NPO Saturn (Rybinsk, Yaroslavl region), and the OJSC Klimov from Saint Petersburg would replace the Ukrainian engines. There isn’t a precise timing for the commissioning of the new ships.

Some import substitution has been happening in helicopters engines. The Kazan Helicopters and the JSC Kamov, which produce the Mi and the KA series, have been using engines produced by the Zaporizhzhya Motor Sich company from Ukraine. Now they are receiving the Rostech VK-2500 engine, which is more expensive and still needs a complete foreign base. Unmanned aerial vehicles are advancing more. The Forpost-R system was being produced under an Israeli license. Russian companies were able to replace all components. Another drone, the S-70 “Okhotnik” for reconnaissance and strike, was fully developed in Russia and is allegedly able to interact with the 5th generation Su-57 fighter.

Finally, the GLONASS satellites. Until 2014, the share of foreign components was 70%, mostly from the United States. Today it is approximately 40%. The Glonass-K2 satellite, with only domestic components, was expected to be ready by 2021, but there is no recent information about the program.

Import substitution was very effective in promoting South Korea’s economic development. It could work in Russia, but there is a significant barrier posed by the lack of new technologies. Before, it was possible to develop independently. The technology was free. Today, there are patents and intellectual property. One component might use multiple technologies of different owners. It is not possible to develop new technologies isolated from the rest of the world, especially when R&D is underfinanced, and the last significant technological developments were in the 1980s. One alternative is a partnership with China, which has been developing Western level technologies in some spheres, but many times ignored the international rules of property rights.

Can Russia do it? Probably not. Development based on natural resources isn’t sustainable, as discussed by the great Adam Smith already in 1786. Norway might be the exception, but it has a very complex economy. Russia’s development is to be characterized by a situation of the development of underdevelopment. In technological terms, it’ll always be catching up, unless huge, but really huge sums of money are invested in R&D, and new brains are attracted to the country. A herculean task, that, probably, won’t happen. As warfare is increasingly dependent on new technologies, with time, Russia’s operational capabilities will become outdated, forcing the Armed Forces to rely on the nuclear arsenal for deterrence and asymmetric methods for combat.

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Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence

Putin signed the “Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” It hasn’t brought anything really new. It merges many documents into one. Still, the Military Doctrine from 2014 is a far better document. Nevertheless, some points are important to note. This included See below my (poor) translation of the document with the important parts in red and my comments in green.

Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence

I. General

1. These principals are a strategic planning document in the field of assuring defense and reflect the official views on the essence of nuclear deterrence, determine which military dangers and threats are to be neutralized, the principles of nuclear deterrence and the conditions which nuclear deterrence is to be applied, and the conditions for employing nuclear weapons.

2. One of the most important defense priorities is to guarantee the deterrence of a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and/or allies. Deterrence is to be achieved by the totality of the military power of the Russian Federation, including nuclear weapons.

3. The state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence (hereinafter referred to as the state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence) is a set of coordinated political, military, military-technical, diplomatic, economic, information and other measures implemented by the force and means of nuclear deterrence, to prevent aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

4. The state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence is defensive in nature. It has the objective of maintaining the potential of nuclear forces at a levet enough to ensure nuclear deterrence, and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, deterring a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, and in the event of a military conflict – preventing the escalation of hostilities and their cessation on conditions acceptable to the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

5. The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence, the use of which is an extreme and compelled measure. It is making all necessary efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and to prevent the aggravation of interstate relations that could provoke military conflicts, including nuclear ones.

6. The regulatory framework of these Principles is constituted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, generally recognized principles and norms of international law, international treaties of the Russian Federation in the field of defense and arms control, federal constitutional laws, federal laws, other regulatory legal acts and documents regulating defense issues and security.

7. The provisions of these Principles are binding on all federal government bodies, other government bodies and organizations involved in nuclear deterrence.

8. These Fundamentals may be specified depending on external and internal factors affecting the provision of defense.

II. The Essence of Nuclear Deterrence

9. Nuclear deterrence is aimed at ensuring that the potential adversary understands the inevitability of retaliation in the event of an aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

10. Nuclear deterrence is ensured by the Armed Forces’ combat-ready forces and the bmeans capable of using nuclear weapons to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy in any situation, as well as the willingness and determination of the Russian Federation to use such weapons.

11. Nuclear deterrence is carried out continuously in peacetime, during the period of direct threat of aggression and in wartime, until the start of the use of nuclear weapons.

12. The main military dangers, which, depending on the change in the military-political and strategic situation, can develop into military threats for the Russian Federation (threats of aggression) and which can be neutralized by nuclear deterrence, are:

a) the building up of military capabilities by a potential adversary, including nuclear weapons and systems near the Russian Federation and its allies, including maritime areas;

b) the deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and means, medium- and shorter-range cruise and ballistic missiles, high-precision non-nuclear and hypersonic weapons, shock unmanned aerial vehicles, and direct energy weapons by states that consider the Russian Federation as a potential adversary;

For many years the Russian Armed Forces have been developing both at the doctrinal and the operational level the idea of non-nuclear weapons having the same strategic and tactical effect as nuclear-weapons. Gerasimov have mentioned this issue many times in the last three/four years. The development of the new hypersonic weapons reflects this. There are two issues. First, hypersonic missiles can use plasma stealth to create a cloud of plasma around the missile absorbing any radio waves. This results in the missile being invisible to radars and able to penetrate air defense systems. One example is the Russian 3M22 Tsirkon and the under development BrahMos-II (with India).

Very much of the Soviet programs are still alive. Some time ago, I’ve read a paper called “Weapons of the XXI Century.” Terrifying stuff, including non-lethal biological weapons, earthquakes, radiological weapons, microwaves, and other. Of course, the question is about capacity. Do they have the technological capacity to develop such weapons? Some yes, but still most of Russia’s technology is from Soviet times. It is very much dependent of Western technology. Still, they’re trying and the idea of direct energy weapons has some populararity, since it often appears in doctrinal documents.

c) the creation and deployment in space of missile defense and strike systems;

Reagan’s Star Wars traumatizes them. At the doctrinal level they have been consistently mentioning the outer space as the next warfare frontier.

d) the presence of nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction which can be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, as well as means of delivery of these types of weapons in non-allies states;

e) the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery, technologies and equipment for their manufacture;

f) deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles in the territories of non-nuclear states.

This is a clear message for the Baltic States and Poland. There were some think tanks in Washington flirting with the idea.

13. The Russian Federation carries out nuclear deterrence in relation to individual states and military coalitions (blocs, unions) that consider the Russian Federation as a potential adversary and possess nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction or significant combat potential of general forces.

This is obviously about NATO.

14. In carrying out nuclear deterrence, the Russian Federation takes into account the deployment of a potential adversary’s offensive capabilities on the territories of other states, including cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic aircraft, attack unmanned aerial vehicles, directed energy weapons, anti-missile defense, a warning about an attack with a nuclear missile, nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction that can be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

See above.

15. The principles of nuclear deterrence are:

a) compliance with international arms control obligations;

b) the continuity of measures to ensure nuclear deterrence;

c) the adaptability of nuclear deterrence to military threats;

d) the uncertainty for a potential adversary of the scale, time and place of the possible use of forces and means of nuclear deterrence;

e) centralization of state administration of the activities of federal executive bodies and organizations involved in nuclear deterrence;

Nothing new here, but this is clearly about the National Defense Management Center.

f) the rationality of the structure and composition of the forces and means of nuclear deterrence, as well as their maintenance at a level minimally sufficient to fulfill the tasks;

g) maintaining the constant readiness of the allocated part of the forces and means of nuclear deterrence for combat use.

16. The nuclear deterrence forces of the Russian Federation include land, sea and air-based nuclear forces.

III. Conditions for the Russian Federation to using nuclear weapons:

17. The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation using conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened.

Again the idea of conventional and nuclear weapons having similar strategic and tactical effect.

18. The decision on employing nuclear weapons is taken by the President of the Russian Federation.

19. The conditions determining the possibility of employing nuclear weapons by the Russian Federation are:

a) the receipt of reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;

b) the use by the adversary of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction across the territories of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;

c) the enemy’s impact on critical state or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the failure of which will lead to the disruption of the response of nuclear forces;

d) aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is jeopardized.

20. The President of the Russian Federation may, if necessary, inform the military-political leadership of other states and (or) international organizations of the readiness of the Russian Federation to use nuclear weapons or of the decision to use nuclear weapons, as well as the fact of their use.

IV. Tasks and Functions of the Federal Government Agencies, Other Government Agencies and Organizations for the Implementation of the State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence

21. The President of the Russian Federation exercises general guidance on state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence.

22. The Government of the Russian Federation is developing measures to implement economic policies aimed at maintaining and developing nuclear deterrence facilities, as well as formulating and implementing foreign and information policies in the field of nuclear deterrence.

23. The Security Council of the Russian Federation establishes the main directions of the military policy in the field of nuclear deterrence, and also coordinates the activities of federal executive bodies and organizations involved in the implementation of decisions adopted by the President of the Russian Federation regarding nuclear deterrence.

24. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, through the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, directly plans and conducts organizational and military measures in the field of nuclear deterrence.

Gerasimov is the boss.

25. Other federal executive bodies and organizations participate in the implementation of decisions adopted by the President of the Russian Federation regarding nuclear deterrence, in accordance with their authority.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

China and the USA: a New Cold War?

In January 2020, China and the United States signed a trade agreement called Phase One. The agreement provides for an increase in Chinese purchases of American products and services over the next two years by approximately $ 200 billion, including USD 32 billion in agricultural products, USD 52.4 billion in the energy sector, and USD 78 billion in manufactured products. Since then, China has not changed its abusive trade practices and, until mid-March, President Trump has repeatedly praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his leadership during China’s COVID-19 crisis. He even cited the professional work of the Chinese while expressing his immense respect and friendship with President Xi Jinping.

Although there was hope that the two countries were entering a new phase, the coronavirus crisis has resulted in an acute deterioration in their relations, the greatest in recent decades. The pandemic could have resulted in an opportunity to develop deeper cooperation, including joint actions to stem the epidemic, develop a vaccine or medicine, and reduce the impact of the global economic depression.

However, the two countries have started a rhetorical war over who is to blame for the pandemic. The Chinese government has been presenting the narrative that American soldiers took the virus to Wuhan during the World Military Games in October 2019. At the same time, President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the United States has evidence of COVID-19 being developed in a Chinese laboratory in the same city. To date, neither country has provided any evidence substantiating their narratives. Also, it is a consensus among the scientific community that the virus developed in nature.

In recent weeks, competition between the two countries has been going to the ideological arena. The Chinese government has been using its propaganda machine to presenting itself as a success in managing the pandemic and as a reliable and responsible world leader who is supplying the world with medical products in urgent need. The Chinese media has also denigrated the Western governance model, especially the American one, accentuating the end of Western supremacy in the last thirty years. See my video on this subject by clicking here. China has also developed a video ridiculing the American response to the pandemic (below). Other factors negatively influencing the relations between the two countries are tensions in the South China Sea, the issue of Taiwan and Hong Kong, and China’s commercial and technological practices.

The relations between the two countries are expected to worsen as the result of two problems: one structural and the other political. The structural problem stems from 40 years of neoliberal policies, which resulted in the American economy’s structural transformation. During that period, part of the American and the Western manufacturing sector was relocated to China. This resulted in two problems. On the one hand, there was the belief that the service sector would absorb the labor force turned unnecessary by the productive sector. This didn’t happen. Many workers went through a process of precarious work or “uberization.”

At the same time, China has been going through an intense economic and social transformation, which has resulted in the development of a more complex economy. Before China had a subordinate insertion in the productive global chains. By developing economic complexity, it started directly competing with American and European companies. The most significant example at the moment is Huawei and the 5G cellular network. Despite economic rhetoric saying that competition is always good, the United States has been trying to limit Chinese competition in complex sectors. An example is actions that restrict access to electronic components of American technology, such as the chips of Huawei cell phones.

The political problem is the result of these structural problems. During the first campaign, one of Trump’s main points was the promise to bring back the manufactures that had been relocated to China. However, the process of industrial localization follows economic and not political logic. And this process fell far short of expectations.

COVID-19 offers an opportunity to change the economic logic in the name of the security of production chains and strategic stocks in times of emergency. However, even if there is a transformation in global production chains, it is impossible to return to the economic structure of 40 years ago. To offset higher labor costs, job creation in a hypothetical manufacturing boom in the United States will be low due to the high technological level of production lines. Thus, the problem is not solved.

In this way, Trump’s attacks on China serve three purposes. First, to decrease support for populist democrats. Second, to divert people’s attention from the failure of the American government to combat the pandemic. Third, to have an external enemy as a political campaign element. Polls show that 31% of American voters regard China as an enemy, while 23% consider it as neither an enemy nor an ally. Democratic candidate Joe Biden accused Trump of being too condescending to China in a recent campaign commercial, promising to be tougher. Considering that China has been adopting increasingly assertive diplomacy, it is to be expected that Sino-American relations are far from calming down.

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From the Russian Spring to the Minsk Swamp

Igor (Strelkov) Girkin was the former FSB and allegedly GRU officer who became the Donetsk People’s Republic’s leading commander. It’s believed that Surkov sacked him because of being too successful. One version says that the Kremlin never intended Donetsk and Luhansk to be independent. Instead, the idea was to divert from Crimea and to create a frozen conflict to avoid Ukraine becoming too close to the EU and NATO. It seems Girkin became too emotional about Donetsk, becoming a problem for Moscow. He still cares.

In a piece published in the VPK on April 21, 2020, he regrets the current situation and draws three conclusions:

1. Attempts at a peaceful settlement based on a compromise between Moscow and Kyiv have completely failed because the concessions made by Moscow in the Minsk agreements resulted in losing the opportunity for politically consolidating what he considered a military victory in September 2014.

2. The war isn’t over. The capitulation of the Donetsk People’s Republic will become the prologue of the general capitulation of the Russian Federation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict around the Crimea.

3. Taking into consideration Russia’s current difficult socio-economic situation and the consequent increasing socio-political instability, a frozen conflict as it is now might become a heavy burden. Losses will increase.

It is clear, that he still expects to see intensity increasing. What is interesting is the VPK publishing such an article. Some military newspapers have become very critical of the central government, and this is only one example. Does it mean Putin is losing his power?

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