Daily Archives: March 20, 2010

March 24, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russia’s Military Collapse

(2)  Putin has lost control in the Caucasus

(3)  The new Cold War with the “Second Russia”

(4)  Putin = Andropov & Medvedev = Gorbachev?

(5)  Another Russian tennis collapse

(6)  PHOTO:  Putin’s Worst Nightmare

EDITORIAL: Russia’s Military Collapse


Russia’s Military Collapse

“So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous and cruel.  As you are.”

— Peter O’Toole to Omar Sharif in “Laurence of Arabia”, 1962

Just last week, we editorialized about the shocking collapse of the Russian military.  We pointed out that, in being forced to purchase weapons from NATO countries that it cannot manufacture itself, Putin’s Russia was not only humiliating itself before the eyes of the world but exposing itself to grave danger:  Its ability to maintain these weapons would depend solely on the good will of countries Russia considers its enemies.  Russia is buying ships from France, armored vehicles from Italy and, if you can believe it, drone aircraft from Israel.

Now it’s time to tell the other side of the story, namely the truly devastating impact of the pathetic inability of the Russian Kremlin to make its own weapons on the national economy.  The always indispensable Paul Goble reports that even the Russians themselves recognize the horrifying consequences they face.

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Putin has lost control in the Caucasus

The New York Times reports, under the headline “With Breakdown of Order in Russia’s Dagestan Region, Fear Stalks Police”:

At a certain point last summer, when snipers on rooftops began picking off police officers, Col. Mukhtar Mukhtarov’s wife blocked the door with her body and refused to let him leave home in his uniform.

For 25 years, it had been one of the great joys of Colonel Mukhtarov’s life to walk the streets in his red-striped police cap. But by last summer all that had been turned so thoroughly on its head that he quietly went back to his bedroom to change into civilian clothes.

His son Gassan, a 20-year-old beat officer, has known the job only this way, thick with fear. He changes in his car outside the station house. Aware that militants often follow police officers for days before killing them — his neck sometimes prickling with the sense of being watched — Gassan Mukhtarov swaps license plates with friends to make himself harder to track. He is still not safe. He knows that.

“They’ve known who I was from the first day,” he said.

It is all a measure of how thoroughly order has broken down in the Russian region of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus. Fifty-eight police officers were killed in attacks here last year, according to the republic’s Interior Ministry, many of them while running errands or standing at their posts. Last month alone, according to press reports, 13 officers were killed in bombings and gangland-style shootings.

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The New Cold War with the “Second Russia”

Sandra Kalniete, the former Latvian ambassador to the United Nations, UNESCO and France, writing on Prague Post (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam):

While Russia has always played a significant role in Europe, relations took a new dimension after European Union expansion. Not only because the EU’s border extended substantially eastward, but also because the 10 new member states have a unique relationship with Russia from a long and often forced coexistence. Now, Western Europe has access to expertise based not only on theoretical assumptions but practical experience. This advantage, if used properly, could benefit the entire EU and contribute to a sound and effective plan of cooperation with Russia.

The EU and Russia are predestined to have a close partnership. Both parties realize this but disagree on the term “partnership.” Russia considers the partnership to be primarily economic, while the EU would like to have a dialogue about values. Lately, there are more voices saying, “We must cooperate with Russia.”

But people forget there are two Russias. European politicians could separate them well during the Cold War era: They pragmatically maintained economic ties with the Brezhnev or Andropov regimes and, at the same time, politically and morally supported Soviet political prisoners and dissidents. Today, international support of Russian democrats and human rights campaigners is just as imperative as during the final decades of the Soviet Empire.

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Putin = Andropov & Medvedev = Gobachev?

The indispensable Paul Goble offers a fascinating perspective on Russian history, showing how Russia is ripe for a new collapse:

Twenty-five years ago today, Mikhail Gorbachev became CPSU general secretary and, in response to the problems that the Soviet Union then faced, launched the policies that collectively came to be known as “Perestroika” and ended with the demise of the communist system and the Soviet Union as a state.

Now, on this anniversary, a Russian analyst argues, the Russian government finds itself in a bind that recalls the one Gorbachev felt himself and the Soviet system to be caught in, simultaneously wanting to maintain an authoritarian government and to launch the kind of economic reforms that could allow for economic progress. But given that the Russian powers that be and the Russian people both have the experience of Gorbachev’s time and have a new and more powerful kind of glasnost, both are fearful that any radical change in course now could easily have just as a radical and unwelcome set of outcomes as reforms promoted by the first and last Soviet president’s did.

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Russia’s Last Stand at Indian Wells

More stark humiliation and failure for Russia’s “dominant” female tennis players to report.

Russia had five of the 16 seeds at last week’s Tier I WTA Tour tennis event in Indian Wells, California.

Two of its top three seeds, including the tournament’s #1 seed, were blown off the court by much lower-ranked players before the even getting to the tournament’s fourth round.  In a disgraceful humilation top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her opening round match to an unseeded Spaniard, while #10 seed Maria Sharapova (Russia’s third-highest seed) was whipped by the #18 seed, from China in her third-round match.

That wasn’t the end of the carnage.  Two of the other five seeds, Nadia Petrova (#16) and Vera Zvonareva (#12) were defeated in the fourth round, though at least they could say they lost to higher seeds.

This left only one Russian seed, #4 Elena Dementieva, with a chance to get as far as the semi-finals. Needless to say, she didn’t.  She lost her quarter-finals match in easy straight sets to a lower seed.

So in the end, despite having five seeds, not a single so-called “dominant” Russian woman got as far as the semi-finals, much less had a chance to win the prestigious tournament.  And all this occurred despite the fact that neither dominant American, Venus or Serena Williams, had to be faced by any of the Russians because neither entered the draw.  Had either much less both done so, Russia’s fortunes could have been even more disastrous.

PHOTO: Vladimir Putin’s worst Nightmare!

Source:  Oleg Panfilov on Facebook.