Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2012
Julian Borger, The Guardian:
Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.
Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months.
Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Russia, Syria | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011
An interesting interview with Prof. Stephen Cohen on DemocracyNow that upends the narrative we have been given about events in Russia. He says that:
* The high point of democracy in Russia was actually under Gorbachov, before the fall of Communism
* When Yeltsin stood on a tank in front of Parliament, an event that is treated positively in the West, it reversed the movement toward democracy
* Most of the reporters who have been killed were investigating huge ripoffs of state enterprises by “entrepreneurs”
* The recent elections were the fairest in Russia’s history (still crooked, but less so)
* The rise in the vote for the Communist party is by working-class people who want to throw off the kleptocracy represented by Putin
* The Communist Party represents the Old Guard, not the Gorbachov reform wing. They benefit from having opposed the breakup of the USSR
* If the Communists get the same alliance in the presidential election, Putin will lose
Cohen thinks that things are going well to get an eventual reform. I’m skeptical. Russia needs a genuine independent political force. Communism belongs to the past.
Posted in Russia, totalitarianism | 1 Comment »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 25, 2010
Looks like Russia and the Obama Administration are getting down to brass tacks on the question of nuclear disarmament.
Now let’s see if the Senate Republicans are still pouting when the time comes for them to help ratify the agreement when it’s finally ironed out.
Posted in nukes, Obama Administration, Russia, saving the earth | Comments Off
Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 22, 2009
–Iran and Israel have just held their first direct talks since 1979. (It’s the lead story on Ha’aretz’ front page right now.) Think that would have happened under Bush?
In other news, Obama, whose signature FoPo issue is shaping up to be nuclear disarmament, is pushing a plan to enlist Russian cooperation — in the form of vetting Iranian nuclear material intended for non-weaponized use — that negotiators have agreed to implement. (Of course, the leaders of the countries involved now have to OK the plan, but I think giving Moscow a key role here — and thus a very real sense of investment in the plan’s success — was a masterstroke.)
Think THAT would have happened under Bush?
Now if only Obama could get Israel to peacefully part with its own nuke arsenal, and tell Lanny Davis to go pound salt, we’d be getting somewhere.
Posted in Iran, israel, nukes, President Obama, Russia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 15, 2009
As I noted last week, Paul Krugman has been working to counter the anti-stimulus brigade’s attempt to use the specter of inflation to scare Obama away from fully implementing the stimulus package — or going back for more stimulus cash.
Expect the scaremongers to use this FT piece for fodder: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 'starving the beast', China, economy, financial crisis, Obama Administration, Russia | 3 Comments »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 6, 2009
Reviving a theme he mentioned last year during his campaign for the presidency, and revisited shortly after his winning the presidency last year, Barack Obama is calling for ridding the world of nuclear warheads once and for all — with Russia and the US to lead the way (since of course these two nations have the most nukes by far):
“In Prague, I will lay out an agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama said yesterday after arriving in continental Europe for the first time as president. “The spread of nuclear weapons or the theft of nuclear material could lead to the extermination of any city on the planet,” he warned, adding that suspected rogue nuclear states, such as North Korea or Iran, may only be persuaded to abandon their quests if the big nuclear powers set an example.
“We can’t reduce the threat of a nuclear weapon going off unless those that possess the most nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia, take serious steps to reduce our stockpiles,” Obama said. “So we want to pursue that vigorously in the years ahead.”
At Obama’s first meeting with Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, in London on Wednesday, both agreed on fast-track negotiations to slash their nuclear stockpiles by about a third from the end of this year. Robert Gibbs, Obama’s spokesman, said the president believed “loose nukes”, stolen nuclear materials or the acquisition by terrorists of weapons-grade fissile material, were among the gravest risks to the US.
And yes, he’s going to push the Senate to finally join the rest of the civilized world in ratifying the Test-Ban Treaty.
Posted in Iran, nukes, President Obama, Russia | Tagged: North Korea | Comments Off
Posted by Charles II on February 11, 2009
Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian:
Nasa scientists are closely monitoring the skies after two satellites crashed into each other over Siberia, in what experts have said is the first collision of its kind.
The accident, which took place more than 400 miles above the earth’s surface on Tuesday, has left a large cloud of debris drifting in space. Nasa officials are keeping watch to see if the wreckage could endanger other spacecraft, although they said it was unlikely that the International Space Station could be damaged….
The incident is thought to have involved a 12-year-old satellite belonging to the US company Iridium and a defunct Russian Cosmos satellite that was put into orbit in 1993. The craft, which weighed 560kg and 950kg respectively, apparently smashed into each other at a speed of 420 miles per minute (25,000mph). Both satellites were used for telecommunications…
Posted in Russia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles II on February 1, 2009
Cue Leonard Cohen.
Shaun Walker, London Independent:
The Kremlin’s rule is beginning to look much shakier than at any time since Vladimir Putin came to power, after a series of protests in cities across its vast landmass this weekend by Russians disgruntled about the economy. And as the country starts to feel the effects of the global credit crunch, there are also signs of a growing rift between Prime Minister Putin, and his hand-picked successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev….
In Moscow, a motley band of communists, anarchists and liberals gathered at several points across the city to protest against Kremlin rule. At one spot, a dozen protesters taped over their mouths with white tape, held up white placards with no slogans, and handed blank white flyers to passers-by. Bemused by such a conceptual approach to protest, the police rounded them up and arrested them anyway, and the organiser got five days in prison.
Mr Putin has made several speeches blaming the economic chaos on America, and says he expects things to improve by the end of the year. State-controlled television is playing down the crisis, and most newspapers are also toeing the Kremlin line, but the internet is a worrying medium for those in charge, and offers a forum for dissenters to exchange ideas.
Posted in freedom, Russia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 31, 2009
– Journalists in Russia keep getting killed, and newspapers harrassed, as part of Putin’s planned return to the Soviet Union of Stalin and Andropov. But there are a few brave souls still pressing on.
– GOP governors urge their fellow Republicans in Congress to pass the stimulus bill. Obama must have had this in reserve to spring on Mitch and Boehner to counter their stonewalling; now Boehner gets to look bad, siding with Rush Limbaugh while the governors side with Obama.
– Speaking of Obama and Congressional Republicans: He’s planning on nominating Judd Gregg, a moderate Republican from New Hampshire, to be his Commerce Secretary. Oh, and New Hampshire just happens to have a Democratic governor — who will be picking Gregg’s successor in the Senate. 60 seats, here we come!
Posted in Democrats, President Obama, Republicans, Russia, Senate | Tagged: stimulus package | 12 Comments »