Russia

Gorbachev Regarding Putin: ‘He Thinks He Is Second Only To God’

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Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev raised eyebrows this week while promoting his new book “After the Kremlin.” The 83-year-old told The Daily Mail that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thinks he [Putin] is second only to God.”

English: THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. Vla...
English: THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last President of the Soviet Union, at a party after the inauguration ceremony. Русский: МОСКВА, ГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЙ КРЕМЛЕВСКИЙ ДВОРЕЦ. Торжественный прием по случаю вступления в должность Президента России. С экс-президентом СССР Михаилом Горбачевым. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“He has started picking up the same illness which I suffered from earlier – self-confidence,” states Gorbachev in the Daily Mail’s report, further warning Putin: “Don’t get a big head. That is what ruined me.”

Gorbachev lamented that former KGB spy Putin avoids substantial one-to-one meetings with the elder statesman.

“I need to participate, and I will. Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate,” stated Gorbachev, who warned earlier this month of a possible new Cold War. Read the rest of this entry »

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Convergent Technologies, Dual-Use Weaponry and the Global Balance of Power

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30 June 2014

HMS Edinburgh fires Sea Dart Missile, courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/flickr
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Convergent and dual-use technologies could match or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals within the next 20 years. For Robert McCreight, the dangers these technologies pose must be taken seriously, especially since states are almost sure to use them.

By Robert McCreight for ISN

As the complexity of advanced technologies continues to increase, hard questions need to be asked about the possibility of dual-use risks that could jeopardize the stability and security of the planet. States with weapons systems that are already highly developed could gain significant advantages from the advent of novel weaponry. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that in 15-20 years advanced dual-use technologies could match, nullify or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals. What implications does this have for international security? Read the rest of this entry »

Euro-Atlantic Approaches to Security – Reconciling NATO and the EU

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19 June 2014

US Secretary of State Kerry meets with EU High Representative Ashton, courtesy of U.S. Department of State/wikimedia commons
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Is there a single approach to Euro-Atlantic security? If not, is that a bad thing? Heather Conley’s answer is ‘no’ to both questions. But that doesn’t mean NATO and the EU shouldn’t be talking to each other about complementarity, regionalization and, most importantly, future defense spending.

By Heather Conley for Europe’s World

This article was originally published as ‘Is it Fair to Say there is no Euro-Atlantic Security Approach?’ by Europe’s World on 16 May 2014.

Russian government and military actions over the past several weeks have dramatically changed Europe’s security landscape and fundamentally challenged Europe’s political order for the first time since the Cold War. And to address this task, NATO is the organisation of (only) choice. The problem is that there is no single Euro-Atlantic security approach. The Atlantic has two very different security providers: NATO and the European Union (in the form of the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy or CSDP).

The EU’s security vision as articulated by CSDP has been adrift for many reasons. Although the CSDP was initially an attempt by some European leaders to be a counter-weight to U.S. defence policy, the de minimis results of CSDP thus far suggest that there exists little policy or budget enthusiasm to create – much less sustain – a robust European defence policy. Today, European defence policy is either expressed within a NATO framework or has been directed at bilateral security interests such as France’s operations in Mali and the Central African Republic. Of the 20 CSDP operations between 2003 and 2008, most missions were geographically located in Africa. Recent CSDP missions since 2012 have been civilian and very small in nature, focused nearly exclusively on training. The CSDP, as currently designed, is not able to defend Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Fire kills 10 at Russian arms depot, briefly halts Transsiberian railway

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The Transsiberian railway crossing Chuna River...
The Transsiberian railway crossing Chuna River near Nizhneudinsk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MOSCOW Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:20am EDT

(Reuters) – Explosions caused by a fire killed at least 10 people at a munitions depot in eastern Siberia and temporarily closed a section of the Transsiberian railway, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Engineers found a truck with 10 corpses in the early hours of Wednesday, a Defense Ministry spokesman told Rossiya-24 television, which carried pictures of flames swirling high in the night sky and turning it red.

The blaze broke out on Tuesday at the depot near Bolshaya Tura village, some 6,200 km (3,852 miles) southeast of Moscow, caused by a wildfire raging nearby. More than 1,000 residents were evacuated, the local Emergencies Ministry said. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Russia still act responsibly? In Libya vote, yes.

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Despite its Crimea crime, Russia votes at the UN to honor Libya‘s sovereignty against rebel attempts to steal the country’s oil. The world order still needs that kind of Russia.

By the Monitor’s Editorial Board / March 20, 2014

The oil tanker Morning Glory is seen docked at the Es Sider oil export terminal in Libya in this March 8 photo. U.S. Navy SEALS seized the ship Monday after Libyan rebels arranged to take it to a foreign port.

Reuters Enlarge

Before Russia’s actions in Crimea lead people to rebrand it as the “evil empire” of Soviet days, it deserves some credit for a civilized move at the United Nations on Wednesday.

Moscow voted in favor of a Security Council resolution that stands up for Libya’s sovereignty. The resolution condemns any attempt to steal oil from the North African country, which holds the ninth largest proven oil reserves in the world. Earlier this month, a rebel group sailed off with a tanker full of Libyan oil in a brazen attempt to sell it to an unknown buyer. On Monday, US Navy SEALs retook the tanker in the Mediterranean at the request of Libya’s government. Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking the Unthinkable in Ukraine

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As Russian forces begin exercises on Ukraine’s border and continue their hold on Crimea, I worry about military escalation—unintentional and intentional. What fuels my concern about unintentional escalation is a disconcerting interaction I had last year with a Russian general at a NATO conference in Europe. I was leading a breakout session with a dozen generals and admirals from the region. I was taken aback as many of the Western European NATO officers began lamenting their individual countries’ declining defense budgets and their inability to keep up with American military capability. As complicated as things might be inside NATO, and as difficult as it is to rally collective action at times, NATO is still the premier military alliance in the world. No one is giving up on it, I assured them.

When the Russian general spoke, he leaned into the table and said, “When I was a young soldier in the Soviet Army during the Cold War, I thought of NATO like this…” and he held his hand into a powerful fist. “But now that I am serving with NATO as a liaison, I am thinking, this…” and his hand went limp and wobbly with a whiny sounding sigh. If this small interaction reflects in any way a wider view of NATO by Russian civilian and military leaders, NATO has its work cut out for it in demonstrating to Vladimir Putin that continued military aggression in Ukraine will be challenged. Read the rest of this entry »

20 March SWJ Roundup

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Small Wars Journal Daily Roundup

Ukraine

Ukraine to Pull All Its Military From Crimea, Conceding Loss – NYT

Ukraine Makes Plans for Troops to Leave Crimea – WP

Ukraine ‘Planning Crimea Withdrawal’ – BBC

Pro-Russian Forces Seize Ukraine Navy HQ – VOA

Ukraine Forces Attacked by Pro-Russia Gunmen; Navy Facilities Seized – LAT

Russian Troops Take Over Another Ukrainian Naval Base in Crimea – Reuters

Ukraine Orders Troops to Leave Crimea, Russia Offers Better Pay – McClatchy

Cyber Peace Reigns Despite Russia, Ukraine Tensions – VOA

Russia’s Moves in Ukraine Seen as ‘Wake-Up Call’ for NATO – WP

US, NATO Warn Russia Faces ‘High Costs’ Over Crimea – VOA

NATO Secretary General: Russia Must Suffer Consequences – AFPS

US, European Allies to Step Up Sanctions on Russia – LAT

US Ponders Next Moves in Crimea Crisis – WP

Obama: No US ‘Military Excursion’ in Ukraine – WP

US Defense Chief Praises Ukraine’s Restraint in Crimea Crisis – Reuters

UN Chief Heads to Moscow, Kyiv – VOA

In Crimea, a Swell of Patriotism, But What is to Follow? – WP

For Moscow, Crimea May Prove an Expensive Prize – CSM

Ukraine Minister Says West Sure to Provide More Support – Reuters

Opinions on Ukraine from American and Foreign Media – VOA Roundup

A New Russian Order – WP Editorial

Russia and the Group of 8 – NYT Editorial

Saving Ukraine from Another Russian Heist – CSM Editorial

Crimea Shows US Can’t Step Back and Let Others Lead – CSM Opinion

A Fear of Russia – WP Opinion

A Way Forward for Ukraine – NYT Opinion

Crimea’s Silver Lining – WP Opinion

NATO’s Strategic Ace: Vladimir Putin – UPI Opinion

Putin’s Warped Reality – WP Opinion

How to Punish Putin – NYT Opinion

Making Putin Pay – WP Opinion

Why Sanctions Don’t Really Work – LAT Opinion

Russia / NATO

Russia’s Moves in Ukraine Seen as ‘Wake-Up Call’ for NATO – WP

Biden: US Will Respond to Aggression Against NATO Allies – VOA

Biden Signals Plans for More US Military Drills in the Baltics – USAT

Another Set of Wary Allies Seeks U.S. Reassurance – NYT

In Eastern Europe, Biden Finds Uncertain Allies – WP

European Leaders Seek Ways to Curb Dependence on Russian Gas – Reuters

NATO’s Strategic Ace: Vladimir Putin – UPI Opinion

Afghanistan

Watchdog: US May be Paying Salaries of ‘Ghost’ Afghan Policemen – S&S

Women Vital for Democratic Success in Afghanistan, UN Says – UPI

Razia Jan Fights to Educate Girls in Rural Afghanistan – CSM Read the rest of this entry »