Tag Archives: Russian arms buildup

The Under-reported Crisis: Russia’s Massive Arms Buildup, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its latest examination of under-reported defense issues concerning Russia.

Here is a small sampling of other vital information that has not been adequately presented to the public, generally appearing only  specialty journals, (one example being the extraordinary journalism presented in the Washington Free Beacon) some “wire services” such as AP but getting little attention in major newspapers, network television, or most cable news outlets:

The Associated Press reported this matter in February, which was, as usual, not given a great deal of attention:

“The Russian military received a sweeping array of new weapons last year, including 41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the wide-ranging military modernization will continue this year, the defense minister said Wednesday. Minister Sergei Shoigu told lawmakers the air force will receive 170 new aircraft, the army will receive 905 tanks and other armored vehicles while the navy will receive 17 new ships this year…The rising number of new weapons has raised demands for new personnel. Shoigu said the military currently needs 1,300 more pilots and will recruit them by 2018… the military now has 2,000 drones compared to just 180 in 2011…Russia has now deployed new long-range early warning radars to survey the airspace along the entire length of its borders.The minister said the military will complete the formation of three new divisions in the nation’s west and southwest, and also deploy a new division on the Pacific Islands, which have been claimed by Japan.”

The Jamestown Foundation reports that “Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the dismemberment of its territory is not an isolated operation. It constitutes one component of a broader strategic agenda to rebuild a Moscow-centered bloc designed to compete with the West. The acceleration of President Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial project has challenged the security of several regions that border the Russian Federation, focused attention on the geopolitical aspects of Kremlin ambitions, and sharpened the debate on the future role of NATO, the EU, and the US in the Wider Europe.”

The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports on two significant new threats, one current and one on the drawing boards. “Russia has unveiled chilling pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile, capable of destroying an area the size of France. The RS-28 Sarmat missile, dubbed Satan 2 by Nato, has a top speed of 4.3 miles (7km) per second…The new Sarmat missile could deliver warheads of 40 megatons – 2,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945…Russia is also readying itself to become a leader in the construction of hypersonic aircraft, a new report reveals. Kremlin-backed media claim engineers in the Federation are among the first in the world to work towards new materials for planes capable of reaching hypersonic speeds.” The move could help Russia produce a new fleet of aerial war machines that could launch nuclear attacks from space. Aviation researchers are reportedly working to develop the materials which can withstand the stress and high temperatures of travelling many times the speed of sound.

The Washington Free Beacon  reported last September that “The nominee to lead the U.S. Strategic Command warned Congress this week that China and Russia are rapidly building space warfare capabilities and the United States is lagging behind in efforts to counter the threat. Both Beijing and Moscow are developing anti-satellite missiles and laser guns and maneuvering killer space robots that could cripple strategic U.S. communications, navigation and intelligence satellites, the backbone of American high-technology warfare.”

The British publication, The Sun, also reported in October that “Russia conducted a massive evacuation drill for more than 40 million people to prepare for nuclear war. More than 200,000 emergency services personnel and soldiers used 50,000 pieces of equipment during the massive civil defence exercise.”

Moscow has not been shy about its new prowess.  The semi-official Russian publication RT  reported in October that “Over 100 fighter jets, long-range bombers and combat helicopters have been scrambled at their bases across Russia and six post-Soviet states as the allies prepare to test their integrated air defense system in a massive military exercise. More than 130 command and control centers have been put on alert in Russia and six former Soviet republics – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.” RT also notes  that “Russia’s next-generation strategic bomber, known as the PAK-DA, may be unveiled to the public by the end of 2018…The plane is expected to be able to cover a range of 6,740 nautical miles and carry around 30-40 tons of weapons including air-to-surface missiles as well as conventional and smart-guided bombs.”

The Under-reported Crisis: Russia’s Massive Arms Buildup

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents a two part examination of the lack of adequate coverage of Russia’s massive arms buildup.

Most of the major U.S. media has chosen to provide little coverage of significant military matters, except when an imminent threat arises or shooting actually starts.  One example: North Korea’s immediate nuclear threats have recently made the headlines, but the long years of Pyongyang’s development of its atomic and missile arsenals were touched on only lightly.

Over the past eight years America’s already depleted armed forces were substantially reduced by budget cuts and a White House that sought to divert defense spending to its social welfare agenda, despite the rising threats from Russia, China, and elsewhere.  The major media was largely supportive of that policy, and underreported the looming dangers. That press trend continues.

While the U.S. was in the midst of an extensive reduction in military spending, Moscow, starting in 2010, launched a $720 billion modernization program. As noted by the Economist  in 2014, “Russia’s defence spending has nearly doubled in nominal terms since 2007. This year alone it will rise by 18.4%.”

The relative military positions of Washington and Moscow were reversed during the Obama Administration.  Russia now, for the first time in history, is the world’s most powerful nuclear state,  a result of the Obama/Clinton New START treaty. The Wall Street Journal noted that President Obama had only a “a dim and faddish understanding of nuclear realities.”

The bizarre sale of American uranium interests to Russia, (uranium is the key ingredient for atomic weapons) and the resulting profit to the Clinton Foundation remains of the most under-discussed scandals in U.S. history.

Moscow’s nuclear development has been matched by Putin’s massive investment in his conventional forces.

Last year, as reported by the New York Analysis of Policy and Government,  USMC Lt. General Vincent R. Stewart, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, addressed the House Armed Services Committee on key threats facing the United States. He noted thatMoscow continues to devote major resources to modernizing its military forces, viewing military power as critical to achieving key strategic objectives: acknowledged great power status, dominating smaller regional states and deterring NATO from military action in Eurasia. Russian leadership considers a capable and survivable nuclear force as the foundation of its strategic deterrent capability, and modernized, agile general purpose forces as vital for Eurasian and limited out-of-area power projection.” For a more thorough examination of the growing imbalance in the U.S. nuclear deterrent, see the New York Analysis article, “Russian Nuclear Weapons Modernize while U.S. Arsenal Diminishes”

Some of the Kremlin’s massive arms buildup violated existing treaties. In October, Rep. Thornberry (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Armed Services, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) penned an urgent letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you again because of our urgent concern about the failure of your Administration to confront Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty…Neither the State Department nor Defense Department imposed consequences on Russia…your Administration is not permitting the military to pursue the options recommended to you by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey. It is now apparent to us that the situation regarding Russia’s violation has worsened…”

The Washington Free Beacon reported late in 2016 that “ Moscow has increased its deployed nuclear warheads over the last six months as the United States has reduced its own…Russia deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, Russia, its small territory bordering Lithuania and Poland, both NATO members.”

There are also concerns that Moscow may have violated other accords relating to nuclear weapons testing. The British newspaper The Sun  reported in February that the “U.S. [sent a] specialist nuke-hunter plane to the UK as ‘radiation spike’ sparks fears Putin has tested nuclear weapon in the Arctic… Many point to [a] radiation spike as “proof” the Russians have restarted nuclear weapons testing at Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic.

The Report concludes tomorrow

Dealing With Russia, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of Russian-U.S. relations

Russia’s energy sales have a direct impact on its military buildup. Increasing the supply of energy on the global marketplace by opening up U.S. federal lands to energy exploitation would reduce the amount of funds Putin could devote to his growing weapons programs.

A National Interest study  noted that “…the rearmament plan announced by President Vladimir Putin was to be funded from the golden river that was generated by the taxes on energy exports that had helped to fill the Kremlin’s coffers.” The Wall Street Journal  concurs. In an article last March, it reported that “Russian defense procurement will drop by about 10% this year as low oil and gas prices drain income from the state budget, according to the powerful head of the conglomerate that controls the key pieces of Russia’s military-industrial complex. Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian state industrial holding Rostec—the maker of weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles and Pantsir antiaircraft systems—said he expected the Russian defense sector to contend with a decrease in government orders. ‘Oil and gas prices aren’t as high as desired, and they’re the main source of income for the budget,’ said Mr. Chemezov. ‘So, of course, it’s completely understandable that there is a reduction in defense orders.’”

Russia subsequently suffered when energy prices fell, but it is now seeking to return to a more prosperous mode by conspiring with other energy producing nations to limit production to increase prices. The United States has the capacity to counter this by opening up federal lands to energy exploitation. This additional source of energy would diminish Russia’s income, affecting its ability to finance its massive arms buildup and international adventurism. It would free Europe from its dependence on Moscow’s energy supplies, and reduce the Kremlin’s influence on the continent.

In might even be beneficial for the Russian people.  It’s energy based economy is run by Putin and his oligarchs. It has been a major factor in the reduction of political and economic freedom within Russia. As The American Enterprise Institute notes,

“State control or outright ownership of the oil and gas industry became a central element in the ‘Putin Doctrine,’ which postulated the recovery of the state’s political, economic, and geostrategic assets following the antitotalitarian revolution of late 1987–91. The state was to become again the only sovereign political and economic actor in Russia, with the private sector, civil society, and its institutions mere objects. Putin saw as nonnegotiable the state’s control of ‘rent flows’ from the sale of mineral resources, with nonstate property rights remaining ‘contingent.’ Almost a decade and a half later, the authors of an influential analytical report on the composition and division of labor in the Kremlin’s Politburo singled out “’ong-term natural gas contracts, and the management of the natural gas industry in general and Gazprom in particular’ as one of only two areas ‘under Putin’s direct control.’ (The other sector was the largest banks.)

“In pursuit of this agenda, the Putin regime has effected a steady accretion of the state’s sway over the oil industry. (Unlike oil, Russia’s natural gas production escaped large-scale privatization in the 1990s. As a result, the majority-state-owned Gazprom dominates the sector with 78 percent of the national output and has a pipeline and export monopoly.) The key to the effective state takeover of more than half of Russian oil output was a dramatic expansion of the majority state-owned Rosneft, headed since 2010 by Putin’s confidant and former KGB officer Igor Sechin. Starting as a minor company that the government tried and failed to sell in 1998 because nobody wanted it, Rosneft skyrocketed in 2004 after it took over the key assets of Russia’s formerly largest and privately owned oil corporation, Yukos, which the Kremlin had bankrupted, broken up, and sold at rigged auctions.”

Opening up federal lands to energy exploitation would also have positive effects for the U.S. economy, as outlined by the Institute for Energy Research:

“GDP increase: • $127 billion annually for the next seven years. • $663 billion annually in the next thirty years. • $20.7 trillion cumulative increase in economic activity over the next thirty-seven years. n These estimates include “spillover” effects, or gains that extend from one location to another location. For example, increased oil production in the Gulf of Mexico might lead to more automobile purchases that would increase economic activity in Michigan. Spillover effects would add an estimated $69 billion annually in the next seven years and $178 billion over thirty years.

Jobs increase: • 552,000 jobs annually over the next seven years. • Roughly 2.7 million jobs annually over the next thirty years. n Jobs gains would be not only in fields directly related to oil, gas, and coal but more than 75% of the jobs would be in high-wage, high-skill employment like health care, education, professional fields, and the arts.

Wage increase: • $32 billion increase in annual wages over the next seven years. • $163 billion annually between seven and thirty years. • $5.1 trillion cumulative increase over thirty-seven years.

Increase in tax revenue: • $3.9 trillion increase in federal tax revenues over thirty-seven years. • $1.9 trillion in state and local tax revenues over thirty-seven years. • $24 billion annual federal tax revenue over the next seven years, $126 billion annually thereafter. • $10 billion annual state and local tax revenue over the next seven years, $61 billion annually thereafter.”

Dealing with Russia, Part 2

Second of a three-part review of Russian-U.S. relations

How should President Trump deal with Russia? His stated hope to improve relations with Moscow must be tempered by the realization that persuading Putin to stand down from his massive arms buildup, threatening posture towards Europe, and dangerous adventurism across the globe can only be accomplished from a position of American strength.

Aside from rebuilding America’s diminished conventional and strategic forces and reviving relations with allies, President Trump has a significant card to play, one which affects the economic survival of the Putin regime: Russia’s dependence on energy sales for financial survival.

Russia’s dependence on energy sales is clear.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration  reported in 2014 that: “Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas. Sales of these fuels accounted for 68% of Russia’s total export revenues in 2013, based on data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service. Russia received almost four times as much revenue from exports of crude oil and petroleum products as from natural gas. Crude oil exports alone were greater in value than the value of all non-oil and natural gas exports. Europe, including Turkey, receives most of Russia’s exports of crude oil and products, as well as virtually all exports of natural gas. Asia (especially China) receives substantial volumes of crude oil and some liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia. Recently, Russia finalized a 30-year, $400 billion deal to supply China with natural gas from fields in Eastern Siberia, which will further increase Russian export revenues. North America imports some Russian petroleum products, particularly unfinished oils used in refineries. Although Russia exports less crude oil and less natural gas than it consumes domestically, domestic sales of crude oil and natural gas are much lower in value than exports because of vertical integration of the oil and natural gas industry and subsidized domestic prices.”

In 2006, The Brookings Institution  noted:

“Energy is at the heart of Russia’s remarkable change of fortune over the past seven years. Emerging from a state of virtual bankruptcy in August 1998, the country now enjoys large surpluses, has inverted its debt burden with the outside world, and has racked up successive years of economic growth and low inflation. This dramatic turnaround is directly related to Russia’s status as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas—the country has benefited tremendously from soaring prices on the world market. With this newfound economic strength, Russia has also regained a sense of sovereignty. No longer content to play second fiddle to the West or China, it is reasserting itself as a major global player and reversing the international humiliations of the 1990s. In charting an independent foreign policy course, Russia is exerting dominance over the former Soviet republics of Eurasia (its so-called ‘near-abroad’). And it is trying to leverage self-proclaimed status as an ‘energy superpower’ with other oil and gas consuming nations in Europe and further afield. Behind the scenes, however, Russia’s entire political and economic system is extremely tenuous. Rather than rebuilding the economy through judicious policymaking and modernization, Russia has balanced its future on the twin pillars of oil and gas, which are vulnerable to the vagaries of the global market. The country’s success depends on high energy prices and the ability to sustain production—both of which are in question.”

Research from The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)  reveals that Russia is  “One of the world’s two largest oil producers and the leading provider of natural gas to Europe, [it] has increasingly used its revenues from energy exports to strengthen the Putin regime. In an article published a year before he became president, [Putin] reiterated that Russian mineral resources would be central to the country’s economic development, security, and modernization through “at least the first half” of the 21st century…In Putin’s view, the only way for Russia to achieve economic growth of 4 to 6 percent per year—the tempo he deemed minimally necessary for Russia to reduce its lag behind the developed countries—was via ‘extraction, processing and exploitation of mineral raw resources.’ This was the key to Russia’s becoming ‘a great economic power,’ Putin believed. For Putin, oil and gas were also paramount politically as guarantors of the security and stability of the Russian state. As he put it, ‘The country’s natural resource endowment is the most important economic and political factor in the development of social production.’ Furthermore, the ‘raw material complex’ was the ‘basis for the country’s military might’ and an ‘essential condition’ for modernization of the military-industrial complex. Finally, he believed the mineral extraction sector of the economy ‘diminishes social tensions’ by raising the ‘level of well-being’ of the Russian population.

Targeting Moscow’s dependence on energy sales is a tried-and-true strategy. A Newsweek  analysis encapsulated the concept:  “In truth, the might of the Brezhnev-era USSR was built on high oil and gas prices. When those prices began to fall in the 1980s—with more than a little help from Ronald Reagan’s White House—Soviet power crumbled with it… ‘Putin looks strong now, but his Kremlin is built on the one thing in Russia he doesn’t control: the price of oil,’ says Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire, a study of Putin’s Russia. ‘Eventually, the money is going to run out, and then he will find himself in the same position Soviet leaders were in by the late 1980s, forced to confront political and economic crises while trying to hold the country together.’ Energy is a potent weapon for the West in the new Cold War against Vladimir Putin—just as it was the last time around.”

The Report concludes tomorrow