Friday, 8 February 2008

The West has stopped laughing at Russian sabre rattling.

I grew up, not so much with the fear, but definitely the understanding that Russia was a major power capable taking on the West. In fact, because of the media coverage at the time, I always felt that she was itching to do just that. The threat of nuclear war is thankfully something my children have not had to grow up with. However, that could all change unless Bush and Putin can find a compromise over America's proposed missile defence shield.

Why the sudden change? Well for one thing, Russia is no longer the sad shadow of a once mighty country it became after the fall of the Soviet Union. She has found new wealth in the form of oil and gas, and under Putin she has found domestic stability. Always a proud nation, Russia must have found the last couple of decades hard to swallow. Now Russia is in a position to assert herself, should she wish, as a super-power once more. Putin sees the locating of the proposed missile defence shield in Europe (Poland and the Czech Republic) to be a threat, but I think more importantly, an insult to his nation. During the cold war, the US treated the Soviet Union with a great deal more respect. Speaking on national television, Putin said:

"It is already clear that a new phase in the arms race is unfolding in the world. "It is not our fault, because we did not start it. "There are many discussions on these (missile defence shields), but... we have still not seen any real steps towards finding a compromise. "In effect, we are forced to retaliate, to take corresponding decisions. Russia has, and always will have, responses to these new challenges."
It's clear that the bad relations developing between the West and Russia are only going to intensify if Putin's concerns cannot be appeased. When my children think of Russia, they think of snow, fur hats and dolls - I pray to God it stays that way.

9 comments:

Man in a Shed said...

Did you see the Channel 4 program about near Nuclear war in 1983 ( not that any of us had a clue ).

We appear to have been saved by a Russian officer who just refused to believe that the US would only launch one or two missile in a preemptive attack.

For saving humanity this man got sacked or demoted.

Its an incredible story. I was going to post about it - but got distracted.

Have a scout round 4oD - and all the fear from the cold war will come back.

Daily Referendum said...

Mias,

No I missed that show, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Cheers.

The Daily Pundit said...

It'll be business as usual once the Russian elections are over.

Daily Referendum said...

pundit,

I don't think Putin cares much about the election. He'll be in power as long as he likes.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

This is all to do with two things:

1. Aggressive U.S. foreign policy on Russia's doorstep;

2. Elections a few days away.

Man in a Shed said...

Found a review over on the Daily Mail - here's the key part:

Everything would hinge on snap decisions. For now, though, as far as Petrov was concerned, more hinged on just getting through another boring night in which nothing ever happened.

Except then, suddenly, it did. A warning light flashed up, screaming red letters on a white background - 'LAUNCH. LAUNCH'. Deafening sirens wailed. The computer was telling him that the U.S. had just gone to war.

The blood drained from his face. He broke out in a cold sweat. But he kept his nerve. The computer had detected missiles being fired but the hazy screens were showing nothing untoward at all, no tell-tale flash of an missile roaring out of its silo into the sky. Could this be a computer glitch rather than Armageddon?

Instead of calling an alert that within minutes would have had Soviet missiles launched in a retaliatory strike, Petrov decided to wait.

The warning light flashed again - a second missile was, apparently, in the air. And then a third. Now the computer had stepped up the warning: 'Missile attack imminent!'

But this did not make sense. The computer had supposedly detected three, no, now it was four, and then five rockets, but the numbers were still peculiarly small. It was a basic tenet of Cold War strategy that, if one side ever did make a preemptive strike, it would do so with a mass launch, an overwhelming force, not this dribble.

Petrov stuck to his common-sense reasoning. This had to be a mistake.

TrevorH said...

The Russian Armed Forces are crap - their navy is a collection of rust buckets - and despite all the oil or gas they have not the resources to match the West - or to put it another way if they did spend the huge sums necessary they would be wasting their time and impoverishing their people.

Putin is mired i sleaze and incompetence so all he has left is jingoism.

thud said...

Russia is just like all other third world oil rich dumps..no infrastructure and a diminishing supply.Putin and his ilk can lord it for a few years but rising Islamic nations on his border and a potentialy nuclear armed Iran will soon put paid to a reurgent Russia..they need us as a market place and one day as allies..perhaps?

Pablo the Scot said...

When discussing missile shields it is always worth remembering that the first such shield in the world was built around Moscow during teh Cold War. It was never tested in anger of course, but as far as I know it is still there, although it may have rotted away into uselessness by now.

On the state of the Russian Armed Forces the most telling picture I ever saw was an image taken of a Russian full Colonel in the early 90s. He had been clandestinely caught by British Military Intelligence selling petrol to local farmers in East Germany. The briefing opinioned that this was indicative of general state of decline, senior officers forced to actions like this to make ends meet.

The Russian Armed Forces are certainly large but I doubt that they are well equipped. Their equipment is old and was badly maintained. Bringing it back into service as they have done for the Bear bombers now flying against our northern air defences is actually a retrograde step. Ask any RAF man about the advisability of leaving a plane like that to rot for 10 years and then try and use it for anything meaningful! Most of the rest of their equipment is in similar condition; there are precious few new equipment programmes in place, and not that much is being spent on new equipments.

Putin is about to stand down as President. Rumour has it that his Prime Minister will then resign his Chairmanship of Gazprom and be elected as president. Apparently he will then make Putin Prime Minister and also have him take over as Chairman of Gazprom! Talk about nepotism.