RUSSIA’S LONG HOT SUMMER
Following a spring which saw the beginning of a draft that will add 153,000 conscripts into the Russian Armed Forces by mid-July, the summer of 2013 will be among the most active ever for Moscow’s armed forces.
The Russian Defense Ministry reports that Moscow’s military will conduct no less than 500 drills within the next several months. The Jamestown Foundation reports that in September, “Russia and Belarus will stage a joint military exercise on Belarus territory, allegedly to rehearse a defense against a Polish attack on the country.” A similar exercise held in 2009 included training for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Poland.
A number of worrisome “Snap Drills” have taken place in recent months, in which Russian forces engage in war-footing maneuvers without prior warning. The Voice of Russia reports that in May, a snap drill involving Space Defense forces, long-range and transport aviation, and combined air and anti-missile defense forces in Russia’s Western District took place. 8,700 personnel were involved. Russia’s own emphasis on anti-missile defense renders Moscow’s objections to the U.S. ABM system rather odd.
Those maneuvers followed the March snap drill exercises in the Black Sea. The Jamestown Foundation described the exercise:
“At 4 a.m. on March 28, President Vladimir Putin delivered a sealed letter to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordering him to launch at once unscheduled maneuvers involving not just the Black Sea Fleet but air and airborne forces and the Army… They were not the only such maneuvers conducted at this time, only the most prominent ones.
“In conjunction with these latest surprise military exercises, the Strategic Missile Command conducted an impromptu check of missile troops in Tver Oblast, and Russia also carried out exercises for Long-Range Aviation forces in the Saratov region (Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, March 30; Interfax, March 29). Simultaneously, Russia’s fleet in the South China Sea also conducted a live-fire exercise (Interfax-AVN, March 28). The exercise also consisted of a coastal landing operation in the Caucasus where the fleet, helicopters, and fighter and reconnaissance aircraft supported the marines landing ashore (Interfax-AVN Online, March 29). While one may plausibly say that the scope and size of the exercise described here was intended to demonstrate the regionally concentrated Russian forces’ capabilities to deploy at a moment’s notice and move to a combat theater, there are more disturbing aspects of this exercise. Indeed, the ground forces undertook a 500-kilometer forced march, while the airborne forces came from the Moscow, Ryazan and Tula divisions (Rossiya 1 TV, March 29).
“Although Russian leaders claimed that, under international agreements, they did not need to provide notice of the impending maneuvers to Russia’s neighbors because they kept the exercise under 9,000 men, it is clear that the implications of this exercise are disturbing for both Georgia and Ukraine (Interfax, March 28).
“This is not just a question of Russia following up on its negative reaction to joint US-Georgian exercises earlier in March and attempting to demonstrate that it remains the sole dominant power in the Caucasus and Black Sea region. As Aleksandr’ Golts suggested, the recent March exercises demonstrate that Moscow can, at a moment’s notice, call up its forces and attack Ukraine or Georgia without warning—with no regard for the fact that the Black Sea Fleet is stationed on what is Ukrainian territory and that at least parts of Russia’s regional ground and air forces are located on Georgian territory (Moscow Times, April 3).
“This suggests Moscow’s real view of these countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty. Moreover, Golts ridiculed official proclamations that the exercises complied with international agreements, showing that Moscow violated the spirit, if not the letter of those accords (Moscow Times, April 3). Moscow may claim that it and Kyiv are ready to agree on the movement of the Black Sea Fleet’s units, but this fait accompli underlines what the real situation is like there (Interfax, March 28).”
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Georgia’s foreign ministry issued a statement expressing its “grave concern” about this provocative action (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, March 28). While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) offered no official response, there certainly was some disquiet in Brussels at Moscow’s actions.
As the New York Analysis has previously reported, Moscow has undertaken a $723 billion modernization program that includes procuring 1,700 warplanes, including cutting edge fighters and new air defense batteries. The Voice of Russia reports that in the 21st century, Russia has revamped its air force with many new craft, including some, like the T-50, that may surpass America’s latest fighter, the F-22 Raptor.
Moscow is placing a large emphasis on naval capabilities, which given the context of Russia’s geography has mainly offensive uses. $138 billion has been committed to this effort. Reuters’ Alexi Anishchuk notes that after an absence of twenty years, Russia will resume nuclear submarine patrols in the southern seas as well as the Mediterranean. Russia has been actively seeking new international naval bases. According to Moscow’s Vice admiral Viktor Chirkov, sites include Cuba, Vietnam, and the Seychelles in addition to Syria. President Putin has also pledged to militarize the Arctic region with a new naval base there.
Concern over the growing quantity, variety and sophistication of weaponry in the Russian arsenal is more than matched by a newly aggressive posture by Moscow’s military and civilian leadership. On Jan, 26, Gen. Col.Valeri Gerasimov, the top officer in Russia’s Armed Forces General Staff, contradicted the key tenet of American elected officials,(including both the President, most Democrats and some isolationist Republicans such as Ron Paul) that World War 2-scale conflicts were a relic of the past. Gerasimov is quoted in the Executive Intelligence Review stating: “No one rules out the possibility of major wars…and there can be no question of being unprepared for them.”
Pushkin House reports that “The Russian armed forces have been in the grip of a deep and drastic program of change and modernization in the last four years.”
The sharp reduction of the American defense inventory over approximately the past twenty-three years has been predicated on two basic assumptions. First, that Russia, Washington’s chief cold war adversary, was no longer a substantial threat following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Second, that no military force or collection of forces on the planet had the technological sophistication to rival the United States.
Acting on those concepts, America’s armed forces were substantially reduced. The Navy shrunk from 600 ships to 286, the Air Force from 37 combat air wings to 20, and the Army from 17 divisions to 10. Under the Obama administration, this process has deepened and accelerated. The President has also pursued a course of significant and, in large part unilateral, nuclear arms reduction. The White House has also been reluctant to fully support key anti-ballistic missile defenses, or to fund replacements for many aging or obsolete conventional weapons.
Unfortunately, it has become evident that those two key assumptions are no longer, if they were ever, valid. Since Mr. Putin’s return to the leadership of a newly aggressive and militarily assertive Russia, vast sums have been appropriated by Moscow to revitalize that nation’s conventional and nuclear military. He has ordered a return to cold-war style tactics such as probing western defenses with nuclear submarines and atomic weapons-carrying bombers.
(China has developed a hyper-sophisticated armed force that openly rivals any technological edge formerly enjoyed by the United States. It has also made substantial inroads in gaining influence in Latin America.)
Despite these realities, President Obama has chosen not to confront, in any serious manner, either Russia or China (China has developed a hyper-sophisticated armed force that openly rivals any technological edge formerly enjoyed by the United States. It has also made substantial inroads in gaining influence in Latin America. The New York Analysis has previously reported on the rise of Beijing’s military.) on their military buildups or on their hostile actions towards some of their neighbors. The White House has de-emphasized preparations for the large-scale strategic threats that concerned prior administrations, despite the continued and growing existence of those threats, as evidenced by Russian General Gareyev’s emphasis on “the priority development of our strategic nuclear forces and the space defense system, as the decisive factor…”
The Great Leap Forward
Both China and Russia have saved vast sums in their military efforts thanks to Washington’s generosity and ineptness.
During the presidency of Bill Clinton, the American technological edge over both Russia and the People’s Republic of China was virtually eliminated following a sharp change in American policy which, for the first time, allowed the sale of Cray supercomputers to both of those nations.
In 1993, the New York Times described the sale as a “good will gesture.” Charles Smith, writing in WND, reviewed the events of the early years of the Clinton Administration, noting how Tony Podesta, a Washington Lobbyist and brother of Clinton advisor John Podesta, convinced the President to authorize the sale of cutting-edge computer hardware and software to both Russia and China.
In May, Russian and NATO leaders met at the Moscow Security Conference. Despite hopes for improved relations, The Kremlin took a hard line that did little to instill optimism that a new or improved relationship with the west was achievable, There were a few common concerns, including international trafficking in drugs, the threat of terrorism, cross border crime, and the illegal weapons trade.
However, Russia believes that the Conventional Forces Treaty (CFT) is “dead,” and views western efforts to protect itself against Iranian nuclear missiles as a threat to Moscow’s nuclear deterrent. Moscow has failed to explain its perspectives, and it is difficult to discern any logic to its position.
[STATE DEPARTMENT SUMMARY: ] TREATY ON CONVENTIONAL ARMED FORCES IN EUROPE (CFE)
(U.S. State Department: On November 22, 2011, The United States reluctantly announced in Vienna, Austria, that it would cease carrying out certain obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with regard to Russia. The CFE Treaty’s implementation group came after the United States and NATO tried for 4 years to find a diplomatic solution following Russia’s decision in 2007 to cease implementation with respect to all other 29 CFE States. Since then, Russia has refused to accept inspections and ceased to provide information to other CFE Treaty parties on its military forces as required by the Treaty.
The United States stated it would continue to implement the Treaty and carry out all obligations with all States Parties other than Russia, including not exceeding the numerical limits on conventional armaments and equipment established by the Treaty. The U.S. offered to resume full Treaty implementation regarding Russia if Russia resumes implementation of its Treaty obligations.)
19 November 1990
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
10 July 1992
Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strenght of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
15-31 May 1996
Final Document of the First Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength
19 November 1999
Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
CFE Final Act
19 November 1999
The Final Act of the Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
1 June 2001
Formal Conclusions of the Second Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Pesonnel Strength
Russia’s obsession with western efforts to protect itself from a nuclear attack has remained a constant in its policy. Some observers credit President Reagan’s “strategic defense initiative” plan as a key factor in convincing Soviet leaders that they could not win the cold war. The Moscow Times noted that “Russia sees U.S. plans to install missile defense assets in Poland and Rumania as a threat to its nuclear deterrent potential, while America’s view is that missile defense is specifically and definitely limited,” and thus incapable of hindering Russia defense abilities.
“NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE.”
In 2010, Moscow established a “New Military Doctrine.” The Doctrine adheres to Russia’s long standing belief that it is the constant target of military threats. Added to the Kremlin’s concerns about NATO are rather unsubstantiated worries about the former republics of the Soviet Union, and genuine concerns about terrorism. To further deal with the terrorist issue, President Putin, on May 6, announced the institution of a Special Operations command, which could have particular value in counter terrorism operations.
Excepts From the
Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation
February 5, 2010
Approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – the military doctrine) is one of the key strategic planning documents in the Russian Federation and is the system officially adopted in the state of views on preparations for armed defense and the armed defense of the Russian Federation…despite the decline in the probability of the outbreak of the Russian Federation against large-scale war with the use of conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, in some areas of the Russian Federation military threats intensified.
8. The main external military dangers:
a) the desire to endow the power potential of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) global functions carried out in violation of international law, to bring the military infrastructure of countries – members of NATO to the borders of the Russian Federation, including by expanding the bloc;
b) an attempt to destabilize the situation in individual countries and regions and undermine strategic stability;
c) deployment (capacity) of military contingents of foreign states (groups of states) in the territories adjoining the Russian Federation and its allies, as well as in adjacent waters;
d) the creation and deployment of strategic missile defense systems that undermine global stability and violating the prevailing balance of power in the nuclear missile sphere, as well as the militarization of outer space, the deployment of strategic conventional high-precision weapons;…military action will be characterized by the increasing importance of high-precision, electromagnetic, laser, infrasound weapons, information and control systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous marine vehicles driven robotic weapons systems and military equipment.
Nuclear weapons will remain an important factor in preventing the occurrence of nuclear wars and military conflicts with the use of conventional weapons (large-scale war, regional war).
In the event of a military conflict with the use of conventional weapons (large-scale war, regional war), jeopardizing the very existence of the state, the possession of nuclear weapons may lead to the escalation of the military conflict in the nuclear military conflict.
22. As part of the strategic deterrence measures forceful nature of the Russian Federation provides for the application of high-precision weapons.
The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of force against it and (or) its allies of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, a threat to the very existence of the state.
A realistic examination of Russia’s armed forces budget, its central military planning document, its deployment of naval forces, its intense training and snap drill activities, its resumption of nuclear equipped patrols by bombers and submarines, and the statements of its key generals and national security officials reveals a clear return to a Cold War stance.