I Nāga (नाग “serpente”, femminile “nagini”) sono un’antica razza di uomini-serpente presente nella religiosità e nella mitologia vedica e induista; storie di Naga fanno ancora parte della tradizione popolare di molte regioni a predominanza indù (India, Nepal, Bali) e buddhista (Sri Lanka, Sud-Est asiatico).
I Nāga sono particolarmente popolari nel Sud dell’India, dove si crede che donino fertilità ai loro fedeli. Secondo leggende indù, sono servi di Varuna, dio vedico delle tempeste.
Nag is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile developed by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army.
The missile incorporates an advanced passive homing guidance system and possesses high single-shot kill probability. It is designed to destroy modern main battle tanks and other heavily armoured targets.
Nag can be launched from land and air-based platforms. The land version is currently available for integration on the Nag missile carrier (NAMICA), which is derived from a BMP-2 tracked infantry combat vehicle.
The helicopter-launched configuration, designated as helicopter-launched NAG (HELINA), can be fired from Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) and HAL Rudra (ALH WSI) attack helicopter.
The Nag missile was indigenously developed under the Indian Ministry of Defence’s integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP), which also involved the development of four other missiles that are Agni, Akash, Trishul and Prithvi.
Bharat Dynamics (BDL) produced imaging infrared seekers for the weapon.
The first test of Nag was conducted in November 1990. A test launch of the missile from a tube in programmed control mode was performed at the Interim Test Range, Balasore, Odisha in September 2001.
Two Nag missiles were successfully test fired in June 2002.
User trials of the Nag anti-tank missile against static and moving targets were conducted in 2007 and 2008 respectively, while the development tests were concluded in August 2008.
Seeker evaluation tests for the missile were conducted at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan in July 2013. Tests on the HELINA were carried out at the Chandan Firing Range in Rajasthan in July 2015.
A Nag weapon with a modified seeker successfully destroyed a thermal target system (TTS) at a range of 4km during test firing conducted in the Mahajan Field Firing Range, Rajasthan, in January 2016.
The anti-tank missile took part in the Bahrain International Airshow in Bahrain in January 2016. It will undergo final user trials under different weather conditions in 2016.
Nag anti-tank guided missile design and features
The Nag anti-armour guided weapon’s airframe is built with lightweight and high-strength composite materials. The missile features top-attack capability and has high immunity to countermeasures.
The missile is equipped with four foldable wings and has a length of 1.85m, diameter of 0.20m, wing span of 0.4m and weight of 43kg.
A blunt nose cone houses the guidance system, while the middle portion accommodates a compact sensor package and the main charge of the warhead. A booster rocket motor is located towards the rear. Four tail fins are fitted at the rear to stabilise the missile while in flight.
A real-time image processor with fast and efficient algorithms is installed next to the guidance section to provide automatic target detection and tracking capabilities. The digital autopilot offers guidance, stability and control for the missile during the flight.
Nag is also outfitted with an electric actuation system for flight control.
Guidance and warhead
A passive imaging infrared (IIR) homing seeker guides the missile to the target after its launch in all lighting conditions. The missile can be optionally offered with a millimetre wave active radar seeker.
The Namica variant has lock-on-before launch capability, while the air-launched configuration uses lock-on after launch technology.
An 8kg tandem-shaped charge high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, with a precursor and a main charge, provides the weapon with a high kill probability.
The precursor charge penetrates the explosive reactive armour (ERA) of the tanks and the main charge is intended to destroy the main armour.
Propulsion and performance of Nag guided weapon
The Nag anti-armour guided missile is fitted a with high-energy propulsion system consisting of booster and sustainer propellants. The sustainer propellant burns a nitramine smokeless extruded double base (EDB).
The weapon can fly at a speed of 230m/s and has the capability to engage both static and moving targets under all weather conditions during the day and at night. The range of the land version is 4km, while HELINA can reach up to 7km.
Up to eight ready-to-fire missiles can be carried in two quadruple armoured box launchers mounted on the NAMICA anti-tank guided missile.
Each launcher can fire four missiles in one minute. The NAMICA vehicle can be optionally equipped with an additional four missiles.
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«The Indian Army intends to procure up to 8,000 Nags, although it most likely will place an initial order for only 500 ATGM systems»
«the Indian Army has a requirement for around 68,000 anti-ATGMs of various types and over 850 launchers»
«Nag has been developed at a cost of ₹3 billion (US$45.9 million)»
«The cost of third-generation ATGWs runs to thousands of dollars, so ATGWs are generally bolstered by cheaper anti-armour rocket launchers such as the RPG-7»
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Gli indiani hanno dimostrato negli ultimi anni una spiccata attitudine a riuscire a progettare e costruire armi efficienti a costi davvero bassi.
Questo è un aspetto spesso poco valutato nei commenti e nei report.
Se è vero che un carro armato ha un grande volume di fuoco e contro la fanteria sembrerebbe essere quasi invulnerabile, se è altrettanto vero che tutti i moderni carri armati sono dotati di efficienti sistemi di difesa, è altrettanto vero che il costo di un missile tipo Javelin è molto elevato. A questo ultimo si richiede quindi una ben maggiore capacità distruttiva, ma anche esso non è infallibile.
Un altro aspetto da valutarsi è che al momento, per nostra grande fortuna, questi sistemi di arma sono stati testati contro eserciti fatiscenti, dotati di carri armati obsoleti.
Ma una cosa è entrare in azione contro l’esercito di Saddam Hussein, ed una totalmente differente è confrontarsi con un esercito equipollente per armamento ed addestramento.
An indigenously designed and developed anti-tank guided missile was successfully tested on February 28.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully tested its indigenously designed and developed third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Nag in desert conditions against two tank targets on February 28, according to an Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) press release.
The tests “have once again proved its capability,” the statement reads. “With this, the developmental trials of the missile have been completed and it is now ready for induction.” The Indian Army has so far not publicly commented on the successful Nag ATGM test. Notably, DRDO had announced the completion of development trials already in September 2017.
Indian Army officials have repeatedly stated that they expect development trials to be concluded by the end of 2018. The Army has delayed the induction of the Nag, a fire-and-forget ATGM with an estimated range of 4 kilometers, due to numerous technical shortcomings including inadequate thermal sensors. The missile’s high price tag has also been a point of controversy.
The Nag ATGM, manufactured by India’s sole missile producer, state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited, until the recent test had only been fired from an armored combat vehicle specifically designed for that purpose. As I reported in 2017:
The Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA) is an Indian license-produced variant of the Soviet-era BMP-II armored infantry fighting vehicle. NAMICA can launch Nag missiles from a retractable armored launcher that contains four launch tubes (the armored vehicle can carry up to 12 missiles in total) and the guidance package including a thermal imager for target acquisition. The missile’s targeting system is based on visual identification prior to its launch (‘lock-on-before-launch system’).
DRDO has been working on the Nag ATGM for over a decade. The Indian Army intends to procure up to 8,000 Nags, although it most likely will place an initial order for only 500 ATGM systems. As I reported in January, the Indian Army has a requirement for around 68,000 anti-ATGMs of various types and over 850 launchers.
“The service is reportedly pushing for a fast-track procurement of 2,500 third-generation shoulder-fired ATGMs and 96 launchers through a government-to-government contract,” I noted. “Weapon systems under consideration include the Israeli Spike ATGM and the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM.”
In December 2017, the Indian government scrapped a $500 million deal with Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. for 321 Spike ATGM systems and 8,356 missiles in favor of an indigenous ATGM system currently under development by DRDO.
The cancellation of the deal was allegedly the result of intense lobbying by DRDO, which has vowed to expedite delivery of the Nag ATGM system. The Indian Army originally selected the Spike ATGM over the U.S.-made FGM-148 Javelin ATGM system in October 2014, expecting the Nag ATGM not to be ready for operational deployment for some time.
Handelsblatt è il giornale della confindustria tedesca. Formalmente filogovernativo, qualsiasi sia il governo in carica, è sostanzialmente scettico sulla attuale situazione: il paziente era vivo un secondo prima di morire. Il fatto dunque che la Germania stia in piedi non è certo garanzia che prosegua a starci.
I dati sono molto semplici da leggersi, ma difficili da essere interiorizzati.
Secondo l’International Monetary Fund nel 2017 il pil ppa della Germania arriva a 4,149.573 miliardi Usd, contro un pil ppa mondiale di 126,687.917 miliardi Usd: la Germania conta quindi il 3.27% dell’economia mondiale. Per paragone, l’India con un pil ppa di 9,446.789 miliardi Usd vale il 7.46% del pil ppa mondiale: oltre il doppio della Germania.
In parole estremamente povere, la Germania è obbligata dalla realtà a dover ritornare nei ranghi: non si può essere supponenti quando si vale solo il 3.27%, e, per di più, si è in declino.
Piaccia o non piaccia, al mondo esistono anche gli altri.
Per esempio, la detassazione in atto negli Stati Uniti, unitamente al ritorno dei dazi, nonché la svalutazione politica del dollaro sono elementi dei quali la Germania dovrebbe tenere in un’accurata attenzione. Ripetiamo: tutti i pugili stavano in piedi prima di finire ko.
Tutti si sciacquano la bocca con le future nuove tecnologie: future, non attuali. Ma oggi, adesso, in questo momento, si devono comprare all’estero le materie prime delle quali la Germania non dispone. Fuori i soldi, quindi, ed accettare prezzi anche triplicati.
«Growing global demand for everything from aluminum to zinc is squeezing Germany’s muscular export economy»
«A global rebound in raw-materials prices has boosted the profits of mining companies»
«But it also threatens to pinch German manufacturers …. Many depend on imports like iron ore, copper, and coal, as well as lithium, graphite, and cobalt for electric autos, batteries, wind turbines and other new technologies»
«Germany spends more than $100 billion a year on imported oil, gas, coal, ore, metals and other basic commodities»
«The bad news for German industry is that prices for iron ore, coal, nickel and copper have risen more than 75 percent on average from their lows two years go. The big global mining companies – Glencore, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American – reaped combined profits of $23.6 billion in 2017, almost 20 times more than in the previous year»
«Demand for lithium, a vital component for the batteries in electric autos, is expected to quadruple by 2035»
«China, in particular, explains the demand increases. It accounts for 40 to 60 percent of demand for industrial metals by itself»
«This boom in input prices “increases the costs for the manufacturing industry in Germany»
«It is estimated to cost more than $100 billion.»
A conti fatti – già, quei numeri orrore dei politici – in breve la Germania si troverà una spesa extra di circa 100 miliardi per approvvigionarsi di materie prime. E questa che le vada bene: queste sono stime minimali. E per di più saranno sempre in continuo aumento.
In parole povere, l’export tedesco si illanguidirà nel tempo.
Uno dei drammi dei paesi occidentali è che i politici ed i governi sono eletti per lassi di tempo brevi: dai quattro ai cinque anni. I governanti hanno quindi un orizzonte temporale che va dalla fatica per vincere la competizione elettorale alla prossima susseguente tornata. Ma il problema delle materie prime non può essere affrontato con piani economici e finanziari articolati su durate temporali così brevi.
Ce lo si ricordi bene: il gigante dai piedi di argilla stava in piedi fino a tanto che un sassolino non lo urtò.
Growing global demand for everything from aluminum to zinc is squeezing Germany’s muscular export economy.
A global rebound in raw-materials prices has boosted the profits of mining companies. But it also threatens to pinch German manufacturers. Many depend on imports like iron ore, copper, and coal, as well as lithium, graphite, and cobalt for electric autos, batteries, wind turbines and other new technologies.
Germany’s seemingly invincible export economy has thus discovered its Achilles heel. Europe’s industrial powerhouse relies on imports for most of its raw materials. Germany spends more than $100 billion a year on imported oil, gas, coal, ore, metals and other basic commodities. Virtually all metals come from outside the country, often in the form of semi-finished goods like pipes, sheets, wire or castings. In all, Germany gets four-fifths of the periodic table of elements from abroad – twice the share it imported a century ago.
The bad news for German industry is that prices for iron ore, coal, nickel and copper have risen more than 75 percent on average from their lows two years go. The big global mining companies – Glencore, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American – reaped combined profits of $23.6 billion in 2017, almost 20 times more than in the previous year.
Germany gets 80% of the periodic table of elements from abroad.
And there is no end in sight. Demand for lithium, a vital component for the batteries in electric autos, is expected to quadruple by 2035, according to the German Mineral Resources Agency. Demand for more basic metals and energy sources is being driven by ambitious infrastructure plans in the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China.
China, in particular, explains the demand increases. It accounts for 40 to 60 percent of demand for industrial metals by itself, according to Julian Kettle at Wood Mackenzie. China is now building out its so-called “Silk Road Economic Belt”, a gigantic rail-to-ports project linking China to markets in Europe, Asia and Africa. It is estimated to cost more than $100 billion.
This boom in input prices “increases the costs for the manufacturing industry in Germany,” Henry von Klencke, a raw materials analyst at the BDI German Industry Federation, told Handelsblatt. And no increase in supply is likely in the foreseeable future. It can take five to seven years for a new mine to become operational, so those investments should already be under way. They are not. There will be a shortage of copper within two years, analysts at Australia’s Bank Macquarie reckon.
“The times when one mine after the other was opened up are past,” said Ernst Frankl at Oliver Wyman consultants. The companies will hold back until they are sure the new mines will produce commensurate earnings in the very long run.
Investors, too, have been hesitant bid up mining stocks, despite the record profits. “It surprises me a lot that the market is so guarded toward raw materials producers,” said Evy Hambro, who heads up the sector for giant money manager BlackRock. “The companies are once again producing free cash flow; they are paying high dividends, and there’s a whole array of raw materials experiencing supply shortages while the global economy is growing and demand is increasing,” Mr. Hambro said. And yet, investors are not clamoring for these stocks.
reso pubblico il 19 di gennaio dal Russian International Affairs Council.
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«And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.»
«The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. …. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.»
«It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact»
«Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense»
«And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect.»
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«The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic»
On the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin answered questions from NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
Megyn Kelly: President Putin, you have repeatedly and passionately denied that Russia was behind the interference with our American presidential election, including on stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
But as you know, the consensus view in the United States is that you did. That’s what the 17 intelligence agencies concluded and that’s what the Republicans and the Democrats on the Congressional oversight committees who have seen the classified report have said. Are they all lying?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: They have been misled and they are not analysing the information in its entirety. I have not once seen any direct proof of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the USA.
We have talked about it with former president Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence.
When we spoke with President Obama about that, you know, you should probably better ask him about it – I think he will tell you that he, too, is confident of it. But when he and I talked I saw that he, too, started having doubts. At any rate, that’s how I saw it.
I have already told you, and I can say it again, that today’s technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.
Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. And when we realize that we will get rid of all the illusions. That’s one thing. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.
Megyn Kelly: But the other side says is it was only 70,000 votes that won Trump the election, and therefore influencing 70,000 people might not have been that hard.
Vladimir Putin: The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. True, isn’t it?
Therefore, if we were to discuss some kind of political and social justice, then probably that electoral legislation needs to be changed and bring a situation where the head of state would be elected by direct secret ballot and so there will be direct tabulation of votes that can be easily monitored. That’s all there is to it. And there will be no need for those who have lost the elections to point fingers and blame their troubles on anybody.
Now, if we turn this page over, I will tell you something that you most likely know about. I don’t want to offend anyone, but the United States, everywhere, all over the world, is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries. Is this really news to you?
Just talk to people but in such a way (to the extent it is possible for you) so as to convince them that you’re not going to make it public. Point your finger to any spot on the world’s map, everywhere you’ll hear complaints that American officials interfere in their political domestic processes.
Therefore, if someone, and I am not saying that it’s us (we did not interfere), if anybody does influence in some way or attempts to influence or somehow participates in these processes, then the United States has nothing to be offended by. Who is talking? Who is taking offense that we are interfering? You yourselves interfere all the time.
Megyn Kelly: That sounds like a justification.
Vladimir Putin: It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact. Each action invites appropriate counteraction, but, again, we don’t need to do that because I did not tell you this without a reason, both you personally and other members of the media, recently I was in France and I said the same things.
Presidents come and go, and even parties come to and away from power. But the main policy tack does not change. So by and large we don’t care who will be at the helm in the United States. We have a rough idea of what is going to happen. And in this regard, even if we wanted to it wouldn’t make any sense for us to interfere.
Megyn Kelly: You had said for months that Russia had nothing to do with the interference of the American election, and then this week you floated the idea of patriotic hackers doing it. Why the change and why now?
Vladimir Putin: It’s just that the French journalists asked me about those hackers, and just like I told them, I can tell you, that hackers may be anywhere. They may be in Russia, in Asia, in America, in Latin America. There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can. Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy.
There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organise some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. Now, the candidate for the Democratic Party, is this candidate universally beloved in the United States? Was it such a popular person? That candidate, too, had political opponents and rivals.
Megyn Kelly: Let’s move on. A special counsel has been appointed to investigate contacts between your government and the Trump campaign. You have said that your ambassador Kislyak was just doing his job. Right? So, what exactly was discussed in those meetings?
Vladimir Putin: There were no sessions. You see, there were no sessions. When I saw that my jaw dropped.
Megyn Kelly: No meetings between Ambassador Kislyak and anybody from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No clue. I am telling you honestly. I don’t know. That’s an ambassador’s every day, routine work. Do you think, an ambassador from any place in the world or from the US reports to me daily as to whom he meets with and what they discuss? It’s just absurd. Do you even understand what you are asking me?
Megyn Kelly: Well, you’re his boss.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense. Don’t you understand that this is just some kind of nonsense. I don’t even know with whom he met there. Had there been something out of the ordinary, something remarkable he of course would have advised the minister and the minister would have informed me. Nothing of that happened.
Megyn Kelly: Since it happened have you gone back to speak with the ambassador about what was in those discussions he had with Jared Kushner, with General Michael Flynn, with anybody else from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No, I haven’t.
Megyn Kelly: Aren’t you interested?
Vladimir Putin: No. Because if there had been something meaningful he would have made a report to the minister, and the minister would have made a report to me. There weren’t even any reports. Just every day, routine work that doesn’t mean anything that may not even have any prospects.
It’s just that someone decided to find fault with it and, you know, select it as a line of attack against the current President. This isn’t for us to get into, these are your domestic political squabbles. So you deal with them. Nothing to talk about.
There was not even a specific discussion of sanctions or something else. I just find it amazing how you created a sensation where there wasn’t anything at all. And proceeded to turn that sensation into a tool for fighting the sitting president. You know, you’re just very resourceful people there, well done, probably your lives there are boring.
Megyn Kelly: I am sure you have heard by now that one of the things they are looking into is the fact that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, reportedly discussed with Ambassador Kislyak in December establishing a back channel for communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And the suggestion was, by Mr Kushner, that they could do this at a Russian embassy or a Russian consulate. That they could use Russia’s communications gear to make those communications happen so that the United States intelligence service could not hear. Does that strike you as a good idea?
Vladimir Putin: Russia had no channels of communication with neither campaign, the campaigns of the US Presidential candidates. None whatsoever. Russia did not set up and did not have any channels with anyone. There may have been official contacts with the campaigns of all the candidates, which is a standard diplomatic practice.
Megyn Kelly: This is a proposal, a proposal by Mr Kushner.
Vladimir Putin: I am not aware of such a proposal. No such proposal ever reached me.
Megyn Kelly: Did you know General Michael Flynn? He came over here for a dinner a photo of which has been widely circulated in the American media. What was the nature of your relationship with him?
Vladimir Putin: You and I, we have a much closer relationship than with Mr Flynn. You and I met up yesterday evening. You and I have worked all day together. We are meeting yet again at this moment. When I came to the event at our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman, and someone else was sitting down on my other side.
I made a speech, then we talked about something else, then I got up and left. Afterwards, I was told, ”You know, that American gentleman, he used to do this before, used to work in the special services. And now he does this.“ ”Great,“ I said, ”Are you working with him somehow?“ “No, we just invited him as a guest, one of the guests.” And I replied: “Well, good for you!” And that’s it.
I almost did not talk to him. I said hello, we sat next to each other, then I said goodbye and left. This sums up my entire acquaintanceship with Mr Flynn. If Mr Flynn and I had this kind of interaction, while you and I, we have spent an entire day together, and Mr Flynn was fired from his job, you then should be arrested and put in jail.
Megyn Kelly: Many Americans hear the name, Vladimir Putin. And they think, ”He runs a country full of corruption, a country in which journalists, who are too critical, could wind up murdered, a country in which dissidents could wind up in jail or worse.“ To people who believe that, what is your message?
Vladimir Putin: I want to say that Russia is developing along a democratic path, this is without question so. No one should have any doubts about that. The fact that, amidst political rivalry and some other domestic developments, we see things happen here that are typical of other countries, I do not see anything unusual in it.
We have rallies, opposition rallies. And people here have the right to express their point of view. However, if people, while expressing their views, break the current legislation, the effective law in place, then of course, the law enforcement agencies try to restore order.
I am calling your attention to something that I discussed recently when on a trip to France and in my discussions with other European colleagues. Our police force, fortunately, so far, do not use batons, tear gas or any other extreme measures of instilling order, something that we often see in other countries, including in the United States.
Speaking of opposition, let us recall the movement Occupy Wall Street. Where is it now? The law enforcement agencies and special services in the US have taken it apart, into little pieces, and have dissolved it. I’m not asking you about how things stand in terms of democracy in the United States. Especially so that the electoral legislation is far from being perfect in the US. Why do you believe you are entitled to put such questions to us and, mind you, do it all the time, to moralize and to teach us how we should live?
We are ready to listen to our partners, ready to listen to appraisals and assessments when it is done in a friendly manner, in order to establish contacts and create a common atmosphere and dedicate ourselves to shared values. But we absolutely will not accept when such things are used as a tool of political struggle. I want everybody to know that. This is our message.
Megyn Kelly: There have been questions in America about Donald Trump’s finances. He hasn’t released his tax returns. There have been questions about this secret Russian dossier, which he says is fake, but which purports to have blackmail information in it generated by the Russians. There have been questions about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, all of which has Americans asking, ”Do you have something damage on our president?“
Vladimir Putin: Well, this is just another piece of nonsense. Where would we get any information about him? Did we have some kind of special relationship with him. There was no relationship whatsoever. Yes, he visited Moscow in his day. But, you know, I never met him.
Many Americans come here. There are representatives of 100 companies from the US, who have come to Russia. Do you think I have met each and every representative of those American companies? You probably saw me walk into the conference hall, where our colleagues were sitting. I consider them all to be our friends. They are all working in Russia and many of them have been doing it for many years. They are investors. They are the CEOs of major US companies. They are interested in joint work. And that’s great! And we will welcome each and every one of them. And we will consider each of them our friend.
And we will help them implement their plans in Russia and will try to steer things in a direction so that they can work here successfully and make a profit.
And should they all be arrested for it afterwards? Have you lost your minds there or something? What about the freedom of economy? What about human rights? Do you think we are gathering dirt on all of them now? Are you all right in the head, all of you there?
Megyn Kelly: Last question. We have been here in St Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?
Vladimir Putin: I hope not. Do you know what I feel? I feel this live, direct connection to this land, to its history, to this country. You have said that you have been in St Petersburg for several days. Yesterday, I had a conversation with Indian Prime Minister. He had visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, where almost 400,000 residents of Leningrad were buried, most of them civilians. They died during the siege of Leningrad. They starved to death. And buried in one of those graves is my older brother whom I have never seen. And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.
You and I have had a debate today in the course of our conversation. However, in this country, since 2000 – and we have many problems, and recently even the poverty threshold has become a little worse than we planned – the situation will recover, I am confident of that, and yet our population’s real wages have grown manifold. And so have pensions.
Our economy has become completely different, on the whole. The size has changed. The economy has almost doubled in size. And the quality is changing, not as fast as we would like it to, but the structure is changing.
Our Armed Forces are completely different today from what they were, say 15 years ago or so.
All of this, including our great history, great culture, all of this, not just what we see today, is what makes the vast majority of Russia’s citizens feel proud for their country.
At the end of 2016, both the political and expert communities in Russia appeared to be very pessimistic about the future of the world order in general, and the about the future of the West in particular. Indeed, the year had turned out to be an annus horribilis in many ways; numerous doomsday prophets referred to various harbingers of the looming cataclysms. They mentioned the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the victory of a non-system candidate in the U.S. presidential election. They highlighted the nearly global rise of right-wing populism and antiglobalism to a level that was unprecedented in recent decades. They talked about the wave of migration that was threatening to consume Europe. They pointed to the impotence of international organizations in the face of multiplying regional conflicts, and they noted a widespread decline in public confidence in practically all institutions of power .
These apocalyptic visions were, of course, somewhat self-serving. Notwithstanding all its problems, in 2016 Moscow demonstrated a lot of political, economic and social stability amidst this global turmoil. Inflation was put under control, devaluation of the national currency was stopped and even reversed, Western economic sanctions failed to bring Russia to its knees, and the parliamentary elections in September resulted in a predictable triumphant victory for the Kremlin’s United Russia Party. Political and economic risks in the coming year 2017 appeared to be relatively low and manageable. Technocrats in the government and in the presidential administration had reasons to be proud of their performance: the Russian system turned out to be more adaptive and flexible than its in-house and foreign critics had maintained.
The notion of stability as the supreme value was back in circulation and used widely in both domestic and international propaganda. Even if Russia’s stability looked more and more like the stagnation of the late Soviet period, stagnation still appeared to be a preferable alternative to the West’s disorder and commotion. Not surprisingly, the greatest portion of gloomy and even apocalyptic prophesies of Russian pundits had to do with the fate of the European Union. In 2014-2016, the EU found itself in a perfect storm that revealed the frightening fragility and obvious obsolescence of many of its fundamental political, financial, economic, institutional and even spiritual foundations. Russia’s problems appeared much less dramatic against the background of the EU seemingly sinking into chaos, and the apparent hopelessness of the “European project.” 
Subsequent developments in Europe, however, demonstrated that the European Union had not lost its resilience and its cohesion. In this chapter, I argue that in 2017 Russian foreign policy started a painful process of reassessing its previous assumptions about the EU and its midterm prospects. This reassessment ran parallel to a growing disappointment in the ability of the Trump Administration in the United States to change the negative momentum in the U.S.-Russian relationship or to pursue a consistent foreign policy in general. One can foresee these changes in the Russian approach to the West continuing in 2018 and beyond.
Engagement Can Wait
The expectation (and, for some, the eager anticipation) of the inevitable collapse of the current world order influenced Russia’s foreign policy and relevant discussions, particularly in late 2016 and early 2017. Indeed, what sense did it make to invest effort, energy and political capital in difficult negotiations with leaders whose days were numbered anyway? Would it be reasonable to keep following rules of the game that had been accepted way back when if these same rules would be rewritten very soon? Was it worth agreeing to concessions and uncomfortable compromises if a new post-Western world was about to arrive? Would it not be wiser to wait it out and observe from a safe distance the epic demise of the old era, which had formed at the turn of the century?
Russian foreign policy at that juncture seemed to follow a wait-and-see approach, abstaining from any far-reaching proposals, not to mention potential concessions to Western partners or recondition of Russia’s past mistakes. The last visible attempt to set Russia-EU relations into motion was the occasion of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to Russia for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 16, 2016. President Vladimir Putin handed to his guest a list of specific proposals on restoring Moscow’s relations with Brussels. The EU, however, never reacted to the Russian list. Instead, the Kremlin had to live with the five principles of Federica Mogherini, only one of which (selective engagement with Russia on foreign policy issues vital to the EU) could be interpreted as a promise of limited cooperation in the future, but even this principle was deliberately vague and ambiguous.
A similar last-minute pitch failed in relations with the Obama Administration. On September 10th, 2016 in Geneva, after long and exhausting talks, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov announced a tentative ceasefire deal for Syria. They also stated that this deal was to lead the way to a joint U.S.-Russian air campaign against ISIS and other extremist groups and new negotiations on the country’s political future.
This hope —to use Syria as an opportunity to limit the damage in Russian-American relations caused by the Ukrainian crisis—did not last very long. The painfully negotiated Kerry-Lavrov peace plan collapsed just a few weeks after signing. The Russian side accused the United States of failing to exercise the needed pressure on the select groups of the anti-Assad opposition to make them abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement—a task that was arguably too big for Washington to handle successfully. Russians also complained that the United States had not been able to separate the moderate Syrian opposition from more radical factions gravitating to ISIS and al-Qaeda. Again, it remains unclear whether the United States was in a position to arrange such a separation. However, the main source of the Kremlin’s frustrations was the perceived unwill-ingness of the U.S. military to work in any substantive way with its Russian counterparts. In the fall of 2016 in Moscow, it became popular to argue that the Pentagon had managed to overrule the State Department, and that the hawkish views or Ash Carter had prevailed over the more moderate positions of John Kerry.
It seems that these failures to engage Europe and the United States, as well as the perception that the West was entering a long-term period of disarray and decline, led to a serious reassessment of Russian foreign policy priorities. Syria serves as an example of this reassessment. After the unsuccessful attempt to create a Russian-U.S. alliance, the Kremlin focused its energy and diplomatic skills on building a coalition of regional players through the Astana de-escalation process. Bringing Turkey and Iran to the negotiating table was an unquestionable diplomatic victory for Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin worked hard to get major Arab countries interested in this new arrangement. The invitation was also extended to the United States, but U.S. participation was no longer considered critical for the success of Russia’s Syrian strategy.
Taking all of Russia’s internal problems and restraints into account, in 2016 Moscow appeared to have one undeniable advantage over the West: a more considerable reserve of time. Russia’s ailments, extremely serious as they are, are chronic and sometimes even dormant in nature: they have matured over years if not decades. The problems of the West, meanwhile, went from dormant to acute within a single year in 2016, and international experts started talking about the possibility of a fatal outcome. At any rate, the Kremlin had reasons to believe that in any possible confrontation scenario, Moscow would be able to outperform Western capitals, precisely because it had more time on its hands. The nature of the Russian political system, the high level of political mobilization and social consensus reached after the crisis of 2014, the marginalization of the domestic opposition and the relatively stable performance of the Russian economy—all these factors made the Russian leadership confident that it would not encounter major problems during, or following, the presidential elections of 2018.
Finally, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States raised hopes in Moscow that Russia would be in a position to cut a deal with Washington above the heads of European capitals. Some of the election campaign statements by the new President sounded very encouraging; they apparently reflected a worldview and a set of foreign policy principles not very different from these of President Vladimir Putin. Though some Russian experts on the United States cautioned against too high expectations about possible change in U.S. foreign policy, the mood in Moscow on the eve of 2017 was largely optimistic. Only the pro-Western liberal minority was looking to the future with concerns and fear. This cohort of Russian intellectuals suspected that any further deepening of the crisis in the West would become a significant boost to authoritarian political trends inside Russia; the crisis and the growing impotence of the West could also create temptations for a more adventurist and risk-taking Kremlin foreign policy.
No Revolution This Week
Looking back to the “Trumpomania” of late 2016—early 2017, today many in Russia have turned from enthusiasm to fatalism. The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic. The logical conclusion is that in 2017, Russia could have done nothing and can do nothing today to change the momentum of the relationship. We now have to sit on our hands waiting for some shifts in U.S. politics. This is not a very optimistic view. However, was it really the case? Could we speculate about an alternative track of the relationship if Moscow had taken a different, more proactive approach, beginning in January 2017?
The inertia of negative trends in Russian-U.S. relations in early 2017 was very powerful and hard to stop. Policies toward Moscow became an important component of U.S. domestic politics and President Trump was significantly constrained in what he could offer his counterpart in the Kremlin. However, in my view, Russian policy made a few tactical mistakes that closed the door to even limited progress in the bilateral relationship during the first few months of the new Administration.
First, the political fallout of the alleged Russia’s interference into the U.S. presidential election of 2016 was grossly underestimated in Moscow. Instead of demonstrating its understanding of American concerns—no matter how grounded and justified these concerns looked from the Russian side—and offering full cooperation in investigating the hackers’ case, the Russian leadership took a very condescending and dismissive position in this matter. “This isn’t for us to get into; these are your domestic political squabbles. Therefore, you deal with them. Nothing to talk about,”  was how President Putin responded to Megyn Kelly’s question about hackers at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in early June. This dismissive attitude played a significant role in consolidating the anti-Russian consensus in America. Two month later the U.S. Congress almost unanimously approved a new far-reaching sanctions package against Russia.
Second, it its attempts to reach out to the United States, the Russian leadership targeted exclusively the new Administration, instead of sending meaningful signals to the U.S. public at large, including its representatives in the U.S. Congress. For instance, Moscow could have announced the abolition of the notorious Dima Yakovlev Law that banned adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. citizens. It could have demonstrated its good will by reconsidering the list of U.S. undesirable organizations that had been kicked out of Russia during the last years of the Obama Administration. It could have restarted a number of frozen U.S.-Russian exchange pro-grams in education and civil society (the FLEX program being one of the most evident options). Unfortunately, none of these evident steps was made—probably because the Kremlin did not consider U.S. public opinion to be an important factor in shaping the Trump Administration’s foreign policy.
Finally, to the extent we can judge the initial Russian proposals to the new U.S. Administration, which allegedly were submitted to the White house in late March-early April 2017, they were limited primarily to restoring communications in three areas. Moscow offered to resume political dialogue, contacts between top U.S. and Russian military officials and information exchange between intelligence agencies of the two countries. Nothing suggests that these proposals contained any substantive ideas or demonstrated any new flexibility in Kremlin positions on matters like Syria or Ukraine. There was nothing in the proposals that would give the Trump Administration the prospect of an early and spectacular foreign policy success.
In 2017 it became evident that not only had the Trump Administration inherited the U.S.-Russian crisis from its predecessors, this coincided with what was arguably the most profound political crisis in the United States since Watergate. What was more, America had also entered a social crisis that went way beyond the Washington, DC Beltway and had the potential to affect the whole of American society. The hope that Donald Trump could be a strong president capable of restoring the shaken unity of the American people did not pan out, while the polarization of different political and social groups increased throughout most of 2017. The White house became significantly restricted in its ability to conduct a consistent foreign policy, not to mention implement any long-term strategy.
At the same time, the developments of 2017 suggest that the decline of the old era in Europe has been postponed, if not cancelled outright. The populist Eurosceptics failed in the Dutch and French elections, and the German election reaffirmed the continuity of Berlin’s European strategy. Notwithstanding all of Brexit’s negative implications, it actually resulted in the European idea gaining more popular support within the EU’s 27 remaining member states, and it became unlikely that any would follow suit any time soon. The migration crisis was not completely resolved, but in 2017 it no longer appeared as dramatic as it did in 2016 and especially in 2015. The euro did not crash, and no eurozone nations were thrown out.
It seems that Moscow was late to accept the important change of the curve in European developments and to change its tactics, if not strategy, towards Europe. Otherwise, it is hard to understand, for example, why Vladimir Putin chose to greet personally French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin in March and why the Russian mainstream media were so critical, if not hostile, to Emmanuel Macron literally until the day of the second round of the French presidential elections. To be fair to the Kremlin, it demonstrated a much more prudent approach to the parliamentary elections in Germany in September. On the other hand, one can argue that there was a fundamental difference between the French and German election cycles of 2017: in France, three of four presidential candidate argued for a more accommodative EU policy toward Russia, including possible change to the regime of sanctions; in Germany no mainstream political party contemplated such a change.
The Resilience of the West
It would appear that the United States and Europe followed opposite courses in 2017: while Brussels was beginning to react to its systemic problems, albeit slowly and falteringly, Washington only watched its problems grow. On the other hand, these processes in Europe and North America, which might seem incompatible through the prism of global politics, essentially reflected in different ways the same fundamental meaning of 2017. The Western world as a whole demonstrated more ability to adjust, more resistance to destabilizing factors, and more resilience than anyone could have credited it with in late 2016. It would probably be an overstatement to label 2017 as annus mirabilis, but it was definitely not as bad as 2016, and it countered some of the most pessimistic views on the inevitability of Western decline.
It is true that after Trump became president, disputes intensified within NATO as to how the burden of defense expenses should be distributed within the Alliance. However, the May 2017 NATO summit in Brussels did not prove catastrophic, and any attempts to write NATO off appear to be very much premature. It is also true that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership project is no more, but this has not resulted in heated trade wars between Europe and North America, nor will such conflicts break out in the future. Washington has left the Paris climate accord, but the major part of American business and society continue to observe the letter and spirit of that agreement.
This does not mean that 2017 resolved the postmodernist crisis in international relations: the fundamental problems of the modern global political system did not disappear in 2017, and the system will still have to change one way or another. however, we can now see that postmodernism is characterized by a good share of momentum and will continue to fight against advancing traditionalist forces for years to come. Therefore, current changes will most likely be characterized by a protracted evolution rather than a swift revolution; they will take years and even decades to complete. This process will have its ups and downs, speedups and slowdowns. however, it is unlikely that historians of the future, let alone contemporaries, will be able to pinpoint the moment when global politics transitioned from one qualitative state to the next. Speaking specifically of 2017, one can conclude that this period was dominated by restorative trends rather than by revolutionary ones.
What does this all mean for Russia? First and foremost, in 2017 decision-makers in the Kremlin should have cast away all illusions that Russia’s problems with the West would disappear on the back of the radical changes taking place within the West itself. The assumption that Moscow’s main task was to wait out this period in global politics, which, although extremely unpleasant for Russia, might appear to be short-lived, turned out to be highly questionable. In 2017, it became apparent that the Kremlin had no guaranteed advantage in short- and mid-term planning over the West. The Russian leadership had to plan for a marathon, not a sprint, and it was by no means a given that Moscow was better equipped to last out this contest than its Western opponents.
The upheavals of the past few years might not have completely cut down the snobbish, overconfident and not entirely perspicacious European bureaucrats and strategists, but they may at least have forced them to come down to earth. For the sake of the future of the European project, Brussels and other European capital cities were actively looking for new EU development paths, discussing possible solutions to key issues of political and economic reforms and plans to reform the key European institutions. Can we say in earnest that in 2017 Russia was discussing the future of the Russian project with the same zealousness, breadth and intensity?
It is of course possible that skeptics will soon mount another attack on the European Union, and that pro-Russian leaders will come to power in one or two European countries. It is also possible that Trump will manage to win a tactical victory over the Deep State, minimizing the practical implementation of new anti-Russian sanctions. A new major armed conflict in the Middle East could distract the West from its confrontation with Russia, or global political instability could lead to a steep oil price hike. However, building a strategy on such premises is akin to planning a family budget in hope of a hefty lottery win. The unpredictability of international developments should not justify the absence of a cohesive strategy, especially when one has to deal with an opponent who is far superior in terms of overall economic, social and military attributes of power.
In addition, it is now becoming clear that Russia will not be able to engage in strategic interaction with the Trump administration while leaving the disintegrating EU by the wayside. So far, the opposite has been true.
It appears that in the foreseeable future, Russia cannot hope for much more than tactical interaction with the United States on a limited set of issues, such as Syria, North Korea, the Arctic and nuclear non-proliferation. If Moscow is particularly lucky, it might expand this list to add strategic stability, the fight against global terrorism and certain other problems. However, cooperation with the Americans on the creation of a new world order is no longer possible. The firmness of the anti-Russian consensus in Washington is indisputable; splitting this consensus will take a very long time, if it happens at all. Very few people in Moscow today believe that the decisions on anti-Russian sanctions made in Washington in 2017 are likely to be reconsidered anytime soon. What is currently happening in U.S.-Russia relations is more than a worsening of the weather; it is a fundamental climatic shift, the coming of a new Ice Age.
The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more promising for Russia. In order to overcome its numerous problems and ailments, the European Union will inevitably have to revise many of its existing mechanisms, procedures and priorities, and even, to an extent, its rules and principles. Russia could assist with the European Union’s transformation for its own benefit by supporting a stronger Europe and abstaining from patronizing anti-European parties and movements across the continent. In this case, it could hope to gradually expand cooperation with Europe, on the con-dition that at least some minimal progress is achieved on Ukraine, which is central to Russia-EU relations.
This does not imply that fundamental disagreements between Moscow and Brussels will cease to exist. The worldview of the current political leadership in the Kremlin is not going to change; an ideological revolution in the European Union is no more likely. In the observable future Russia will not become a part of the European project. Nevertheless, this division does not preclude various forms of cooperation similar to these during the 1970s or 1980s.
Back to the Cold War
Since no revolution took place in global politics in 2017, practical solutions need to be sought in the framework of the existing system of political coordinates; more grandiose plans have to wait. The old model of geopolitical confrontation between East and West, i.e., the Cold War model, should be revisited as an interim solution for the Russia-West adversarial relationship. This model is certainly far from ideal, it is expensive and to a great extent outdated. Nevertheless, notwithstanding all its shortcomings, the Cold War model used to ensure a satisfactory level of stability and predictability, both in Europe and in the world as a whole.
This model included numerous channels of political interaction, contacts among militaries, risk mitigation measures and arms control treaties. Furthermore, the Cold War model was based on mutual respect and even a degree of mutual trust. So why not fall back on this time-tested con-frontation management practice, using such mechanisms as the NATO–Russia Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, or new ad-hoc formats like the Russia-NATO Crisis Management Group, which has been repeatedly proposed?
At this stage the name of the game in Russia’s relations with the West is not mutual trust, but rather mutual predictability. Since it is very difficult to make predictions about the Trump Administration, major European counties and the European Union at large become more important for Russia than was the case earlier. For example, both Russia and the EU have strategic interests to secure the multilateral agreement of the Iranian nuclear dossier. Likewise, the Russian and the EU positions are close on the North Korean problem.
In some areas, there is actually no need to return to the old model because it is still in place. This goes for Russia’s nuclear interaction with the United States, for example. The two remaining pillars of this interaction, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and New START Treaty, while certainly offering some positive aspects, are nevertheless fully compliant with the logic of controlled confrontation and are fully within the Cold War paradigm. Retaining and reinforcing these accords would not require any historic political breakthrough, unilateral concessions, or switching to a fundamentally new format of Moscow’s relations with Washington.
The goal to preserve INF and New START is definitely worth fighting for. Nevertheless, even if this hard battle is won, this will not signal the end of the fight to secure and to strengthen strategic arms control in the 21st century. Neither INF nor New START prevents the United States from spending $1 trillion in the next 30 years on modernizing its nuclear bombs, bombers, missiles and submarines. Russia will also continue its large-scale strategic modernization program, even if the two agreements remain in place.
The crisis of strategic arms control is more complex and fundamental than the uncertain future of the two agreements, as important as they are. In the 21st century, strategic arms control is no longer about arithmetic; it requires applications of higher mathematics. These days, mobility dom-inates location, precision beats throw-weight; and the line between nuclear and conventional weapons has become almost invisible. The old arms control paradigm has entered into its own perfect storm. While preservation of its Cold War heritage is indispensable, preservation in itself is clearly not sufficient to provide for strategic stability in a completely new global environment.
One can argue that traditional distinctions between strategic, intermediate-range and tactical systems are becoming antiquated. The reality is that the United States and Russia have and will continue to have strikingly different geopolitical and geostrategic positions in the world; their threat perceptions and their respective strategic doctrines will never be identical to each other. If so, the United States and Russia could merge New START and INF into one umbrella agreement that would set overall ceilings for nuclear warheads and launchers on both sides. Within these overall ceilings both Washington and Moscow would be in a position to blend individual cocktails of strategic, intermediate range and tactical systems to their liking. For a better taste, they could even add the missile defense component to the mix. The only sub-ceiling that they might need to preserve is the sub-ceiling for deployed warheads, which are of particular concern to the other side. This sub-ceiling can amount to a half or one third of the total number.
This approach will not address all the contemporary challenges to strategic arms control. For example, the time has come move away from a bilateral U.S.-Russian format to a multilateral one, but this approach will not do that. Still, an innovative approach would be a loud and clear signal to third nuclear powers that there is political will in both the White House and in the Kremlin not only to preserve, but also to enhance and to modernize global strategic security.
Skeptics can argue that today is not the best time to experiment with new approaches to strategic arms control. U.S.-Russian relations have hit historical lows, trust between the two countries is non-existent, political opposition to any new deals will be too strong to generate domestic support for any new agreements. These are exactly the arguments used back in the 1950s against a possible U.S.—Soviet collaboration to write a set of rules for the new nuclear world. It took the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 to start moving away from this perception, and another ten years to sign the first U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement (SALT 1). Are we ready to wait for another missile crisis—in North Korea or elsewhere? Can we afford another ten years for a new detente between Washington and Moscow?
The Second Layer of the Pie
Overhauling and restarting the old Cold War model is a necessary but insufficient factor for the future stabilization of Russia’s relations with the West. With all its comparative advantages, this model has at least four key structural limitations. First, the Cold War model is inherently static. It is aimed at preserving the status quo and precludes any evolution. Such a model is extremely difficult to reform; it was no accident that the Cold War ended not in an orderly transformation of the controlled confrontation model, but in a dramatic and chaotic collapse in the late 1980s. Given the dynamics of the international system today, any attempt to codify Rus-sia-West relations for an extended period of time is unlikely to be successful. There are simple too many independent variables that might affect these relations, from rising China to the fourth industrial revolution to global climate change.
Second, the Cold War was primarily fought by two vertically structured politico-military blocs, which split Europe into the Soviet and U.S. spheres of influence. It would be absolutely impossible to divide today’s Europe into distinct spheres of influence; the very idea of spheres of influence is considered to be hopelessly antiquated and unacceptable, at least in the Western world. Besides, contemporary Russia is not comparable to the former USSR at the peak of its might; a geopolitical parity between Moscow and the combined West is only possible if Russia creates a political and military alliance with China, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would be the leading partner in such an alliance.
Third, Soviet and U.S. leaders built the Cold War model in order to counter the most dangerous threats of the 20th century. Even though many of these threats still exist, the 21st century has brought up new challenges, including those posed by non-governmental actors. The Cold War model cannot offer much in terms of counteracting the new generation of threats to international security. In many ways, the Cold War model was the last incarnation of the traditional Westphalian world, which is no longer the world in which we live.
Fourth, the Cold War model was relatively effective in a situation when the two confronting systems remained virtually isolated from one another and separated by incompatible ideologies. No such economic, political or humanitarian confrontation between Russia and the West exists anymore, nor could it be reinstated, despite certain attempts being made on both sides. The current media war between Russia and the West looks like a caricature of the ideological struggle between communism and liberal democracy in the middle of the 20th century. Nor can Russia be isolated from the West in an age of unprecedented human mobility, porous borders, global information and communications technologies. Despite all of Russia’s efforts aimed at self-reliance, import substitution and higher protectionism, the country’s dependence on the outside word is likely to increase, not decrease.
The old model’s considerable limitations necessitate the introduction of a new complementary dimension to Russia-West relations. The role of such a dimension could be played out through a system of global, regional and sub-regional regimes that would preserve and expand the common space between Russia and Europe, between Eurasia and the Euro-Atlantic area.
In the initial phase, such regimes would be easier to preserve and develop in less politically sensitive fields, such as education, science and culture. However, it may be possible to apply the regimes model to nontraditional security challenges, including international terrorism, drug trafficking, cross-border crime, energy security and even cyber security. The regimes model can also work on the sub-regional level: for example, it has long been applied effectively in the Arctic.
In the current situation, the regimes model could efficiently complement the old Cold War model in Russia’s relations with the West. As distinct from the inherently rigid Cold War model, which requires strict codification of agreements reached, the regimes model is flexible, often making it possible to do without burdensome negotiations over technicalities and avoid complex and protracted ratification procedures.
While the Cold War model requires a universally recognized hierarchy of parties in international relations, the regimes model is based on horizontal interactions between the parties involved, which may include not only large and small states, but also non-governmental actors such as regions and municipalities, private companies and civil institutions, international organizations and cross-border movements. This significantly expands the range of potential stakeholders interested in the development of cooperation, creating a critical mass for subsequent breakthroughs.
Skeptics would argue that this approach has already been tried in the relations between Russia and the West, but failed to prevent the current crisis and therefore should be rejected as inefficient. I would make a counterargument: the current crisis would be much deeper and more difficult to manage if the two sides did not have a thick network of social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and other contacts. Despite an ongoing and intense information war, the West still remains a point of orientation to millions and millions of Russians. It is true that Russians have not become completely immune to anti-Western propaganda, but the depth and the sustainability of anti-Western moods in the Russian society can be questioned.
Whereas the Cold War model proceeds from the premise that the parties are prepared for major deals such as the 1975 Helsinki Accords, and is mainly based on a top-down approach, the regimes model works in situations of strategic uncertainty, in the absence of major deals, and is mostly based on a bottom-up approach. Shoots of cooperation sprout up wherever there are even the most minuscule cracks in the asphalt of confrontation.
The question is whether such different models of Russia’s relations with the West can possibly be combined within a single hybrid format. That this is possible in principle follows from the peculiarities of contemporary social organization in Russia and the West, which differs radically from how things were organized in the middle of the 20th century. Thanks to the high level of social, professional and cultural fragmentation in contemporary societies, the existence of multiple group and individual identities, and the extremely intricate mechanisms of interaction within vertical, horizontal, formal, informal, basic and situational ties, both models will have their target audiences, proponents, operators and ideologists in Russia and the West.
It is easy to predict that the logic of confrontation will inevitably restrict and distort the logic of cooperation. One way or another, the two mutually complementary models affect each other, because they simply cannot be isolated. However, the art of foreign policy presupposes, among other things, the ability to play chess on several boards simultaneously, or to be more precise, to play chess, poker and even the exotic Asian game Go at the same time, not just the traditional Russian game of gorodki. The most important thing is to delimit the spheres of application of the two models and gradually shift the balance between them from the former to the latter.
Looking Beyond the Horizon
Any significant changes in the current pattern of relations between Russia and the West is likely to be a slow, gradual and long process. At this stage, there are not many compelling reasons for the Kremlin to reconsider its fundamental approaches to the West. On the one hand, the current status quo is perceived as not perfect, but generally acceptable. Potential risks associated with maintaining the status quo are regarded as relatively low compared to risks that might emerge from attempts at changing the status quo. The margin of safety of both the Russian political system and its economy is still quite significant. On the other hand, the trend towards a new consolidation of the West is still very fragile and arguably reversible. There are many political, social and economic problems, to which neither the United States, not the European Union, have found credible solutions.
The status quo-focused foreign policy does not exclude trial balloons, tactical adjustments, incremental concessions, and situational collaboration. All these are important in 2018 and in years to come. However, a more fundamental change in Russian foreign policy is not likely to come as a cumulative effect of incremental adjustments or situational collaboration. Neither will it result from a revelation of a Russian leader, no matter who this leader is likely to be a few years from now. At the end of the day, Russia’s foreign policy priorities will be defined by the economic and social development trajectory upon which the nation will embark once it has depleted the potential of the current development model.
Russia can definitely survive without the West generally, and without Europe in particular. It might even prosper without the West if global prices on oil and other commodities go up again and a new golden rain waters the national economy. It does not matter much to whom you sell your commodities—clients in the West or clients in the East, developed or developing nations, mature democracies or authoritarian regimes. With Russia’s rent-seeking economy in place, the West is not likely to reemerge as an indispensable partner for Moscow. Moreover, Russia can even stick to a neo-isolationist foreign policy, consistently trying to protect its citizens from the dangers and challenges of the globalizing world.
This foreign policy option will be even more probable if the overall international system evolves in the direction of more nationalism, protectionism, rigid balance of powers, continuous decay of international institutions and international law. If the name of game is survival rather than development, if the top national priority everywhere is security rather than development, then incentives to change anything will remain low.
However, let us suppose that the name of the game is not to maintain the rent-seeking economic model, but to pursue a strategy of encouraging deep structural economic reforms, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing the creative potential of the Russian people. Let us suppose that the modern liberal world order successfully overcomes the ongoing crisis and the international system move away from hard to soft power, from unilateralism to multilateralism, from closeness to openness. In this case connecting to the West, borrowing best Western practices, learning from Western mistakes is going to be a critical precondition for any successful Russian modernization. This has always been the case, ever since Italian architects supervised the erection of the red brick Kremlin walls in Moscow back in 1485.
Given all the uncertainties of future developments in Russia and in the West, it might make sense to define three time horizons for this very complex and uneasy relationship. Each of these has its own logic, priorities, goals, opportunities, and limitations. The first is about de-escalation, which involves a stable cease-fire in Donbass, moderation of inflammatory rhetoric on both sides, a truce in the information war, and resumption of political and military contacts and various levels. The second is about stabilization, including a more general political settlement in Ukraine along the lines of the Minsk Agreements, gradual removal of sanctions and countersanctions, a set of confidence-building measures in Europe, promotion of cooperation in areas of mutual concern (e.g. soft security), unilateral limitations on military deployments, and strengthening European regimes in humanitarian fields. Moving on to the third, long-term horizon, we should review and revise the idea of a Greater Europe that was unsuccessfully tried after the end of the Cold War; our second attempt should be based on lessons learned from the failure of the first attempt.
Una canzone alpina, scritta durante la prima campagna di Albania, recitava in un ritornello:
«Starò piuttosto senza mangiare,
ma l’amore lo voglio far.»
«According to a recent report for the Policy Exchange think tank, the world’s submarine network comprises an estimated 213 independent cable systems and 545,018 miles (877,121 km) of fibre.»
«an estimated 97% of global communications and $10 trillion in daily financial transactions are transmitted by cables under the ocean»
«Because Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare»
«Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living»
«Undersea cables are the indispensable infrastructure of our time, essential to our modern life and digital economy, yet they are inadequately protected and highly vulnerable to attack at sea and on land, from both hostile states and terrorists»
* * * * * * * *
È con la Guerra di Secessione che i militari razionalizzarono l’importanza di fare incursioni nelle retrovie avversarie al fine di tagliare i fili telegrafici. Le telecomunicazioni avevano assunto un ruolo strategico, così come le strade ferrate.
Per le centrali telefoniche terrestri sono disponibili armi molto sofisticate, che tolgono anche l’incomodo di tagliare fisicamente i fili:
Se si guarda la mappetta diventa evidente che se lo stato maggiore russo non avesse pensato a tagliare le comunicazioni transcontinentali occidentali lo si sarebbe dovuto mandare in Siberia per palese incompetenza.
Il vero problema consiste nel fatto che è semplicemente impossibile impedire un attacco organizzato contro il quasi milione di kilometri di cavi sottomarini.
Tuttavia, ci si dovrebbe domandare se un’operazione del genere possa o meno risultare di reale beneficio all’attaccante, ossia, se la posta valga la candela.
Ben difficilmente un conflitto est – ovest potrebbe svolgersi senza l’impiego di armi termonucleari.
Ma in caso di conflitto reale, le comunicazioni militare dovrebbero passare tutte per via satellitare, sempre che le superpotenze non si fossero dotate di armi in grado di neutralizzare anche i satelliti delle telecomunicazioni.
In caso però di conflitto a livello inferiore, il blocco delle telecomunicazioni transcontinentali concorrerebbe significativamente a generare chaos in campo occidentale. Il blocco orientale, infatti, non utilizza più di tanto questo tipo di rete e potrebbe sopravvivere abbastanza bene anche se questa rete fosse stata messa fuori uso.
Una cosa sembrerebbe essere evidente:
«Russia …. continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare».
«Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living»
According to a recent report for the Policy Exchange think tank, the world’s submarine network comprises an estimated 213 independent cable systems and 545,018 miles (877,121 km) of fibre.
But it said a lack of formal state ownership meant cables do not have strong protection in international law.
Despite that, an estimated 97% of global communications and $10 trillion in daily financial transactions are transmitted by cables under the ocean.
Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Sir Stuart said the vulnerability of undersea lines posed a “new risk to our way of life”.
“In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy, both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships, we along with our Atlantic allies have prioritised missions and tasks to protect the sea lines of communication,” he said.
He said it was “very, very important” to understand how important that mission was for Nato.
“Because Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare.”
The UK and its allies needed to “match and understand Russian fleet modernisation”, he added.
“There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds,” he said.
“Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living.”
According to the Policy Exchange report – published earlier this month – many cable systems are potentially at risk.
“Undersea cables are the indispensable infrastructure of our time, essential to our modern life and digital economy, yet they are inadequately protected and highly vulnerable to attack at sea and on land, from both hostile states and terrorists,” the report concluded.
Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, author of the report, warned a successful attack on the UK’s network of undersea communications cables could deal a “crippling blow” to the country’s security and economy.
He said the locations of the cables were “both isolated and publicly available” and a successful attack would be an “existential threat to our security”.
Writing a foreword to the document, Admiral James Stavridis, a former US Navy officer and ex-Nato supreme allied commander, said: “It is not satellites in the sky, but pipes on the ocean floor that form the backbone of the world’s economy.”
He also warned of a potential threat from China and Iran, as well as Russia.
He called for the creation of more “dark cables”, to be kept in reserve, and said Nato must be prepared to defend global submarine cables, if necessary.
«Translated into English, Vozrozhdeniya means “rebirth”.»
«L’isola di Vozroždenie, altresì conosciuta come isola della Rinascita (in uzbeco Tiklanish orollari; in russo Остров Возрождения; in inglese Vozrozhdeniya Island), era un’isola del lago d’Aral che, a causa del progressivo ritiro delle acque, è divenuta una penisola nel 2002 e, successivamente, un istmo. Attualmente è divisa tra il Kazakistan e l’Uzbekistan.
Fino alla Rivoluzione di ottobre portava il nome datole dal suo primo esploratore Butakov Alexei ovvero ‘Isola di Nicola I’. Data l’inaccessibilità del luogo, l’isola di Vozroždenie venne trasformata in uno dei principali laboratori sovietici per effettuare test di guerra batteriologica. Nel 1948, un ulteriore laboratorio top-secret per la produzione di armi biologiche venne stabilito qui. Dichiarazioni sulla pericolosità dell’isola vennero fatte da disertori sovietici, incluso Ken Alibek, l’ex capo del programma sulle armi biologiche dell’Unione Sovietica. Fu qui, come si riscontra in documenti successivamente desecretati, che le spore di antrace e i bacilli di peste bubbonica furono trasformati in armi e le stesse immagazzinate. Il principale insediamento nell’isola era Kantubek, oggi abbandonato, che una volta aveva una popolazione di circa 1.500 abitanti.
I membri dello staff del laboratorio abbandonarono l’isola nel tardo 1991. Molti dei contenitori che conservavano le spore ed i bacilli non furono immagazzinati o distrutti correttamente. Nel corso dei dieci anni successivi, molti degli involucri si erano deteriorati al punto da non contenere il pericolosissimo materiale in essi conservato. Dato l’incessante recedere del lago e l’inevitabile ricongiungimento dell’isola con la terraferma, c’era il timore che gli animali presenti nei dintorni potessero addentrarsi nell’impianto ed entrare in contatto con gli agenti contaminanti e disperderli nell’ambiente con gravissimo rischio di epidemie mortali.» [Fonte]
Tutti gli stati hanno una loro Vozrozhdeniya, di cui non amano certo parlarne.
«Chillingly, there is a similar site much closer for comfort than the steppes of Central Asia: Gruinard, a small island just off the coast of the Scottish Highlands. From 1942 to 1943, just one year, it was the epicentre of the UK’s bioweapons programme. The tests involved tethering sheep in an open field or securing them in wooden frames, then exposing them to large doses of anthrax. Once it was exploded over the island, another time it was dropped from a plane.
The sheep would start dying three days later – “you can tell when an animal has died of anthrax. Just look for a bloated carcass with haemorrhaging,” says Baillie – after which their carcasses were carefully disposed of. The scientists burned the bodies and even dynamited a cliff over some to contain the contamination»
* * * * * * *
Ufficialmente le armi biologiche sarebbero bandite, le ricerche interrotte ed i depositi avrebbero dovuto essere distrutti, a mente la Biological Weapons Convenction.
Al momento attuale sembrerebbe che gli stati classificabili come superpotenze abbiano distrutto i propri arsenali biologici, ma non esistono certezze assolute.
Il grande problema invece consiste nel fatto che con i progressi della genetica qualsiasi laboratorio, anche supportato da personale non altamente qualificato, sarebbe in grado di produrre armi biologiche efficienti per costi infimi.
Una simile concreta possibilità potrebbe rivelarsi in drammatiche conseguenze se fosse sfruttata da gruppi terroristici.
Nessuno intende fare allarmismo, ma questa ipotesi sembrerebbe di tale portata da indurre la messa in essere di adeguate contromisure.
On the Kazakh-Uzbek border, surrounded by miles of toxic desert, lies an island. Or at least, something that used to be an island.
Vozrozhdeniya was once home to a vibrant fishing village fringed by turquoise lagoons, back when the Aral Sea was the fourth-largest in the world and abundant with fish.
But after years of abuse by the Soviets, the waters have receded and the sea has turned to dust; the rivers that fed it were diverted to irrigate cotton fields. Today, a layer of salty sand, riddled with carcinogenic pesticides, is all that remains of the ancient oasis.
This is a place where the mercury regularly hits 60C (140F), where the only signs of life are the skeletons of desiccated trees and camels shading under giant, stranded boats.
Now Vozrozhdeniya has swallowed up so much of the sea that it’s swelled to 10 times its original size, and is connected to the mainland by a peninsula. But it is thanks to another Soviet project that it is one of the deadliest places on the planet.
From the 1970s, the island has been implicated in a number of sinister incidents. In 1971, a young scientist fell ill after a research vessel, the Lev Berg, strayed into a brownish haze. Days later, she was diagnosed with smallpox. Mysteriously, she had already been vaccinated against the disease. Though she recovered, the outbreak went on to infect a further nine people back in her hometown, three of whom died. One of these was her younger brother.
A year later, the corpses of two missing fishermen were found nearby, drifting in their boat. It’s thought that they had caught the plague. Not long afterwards, locals started landing whole nets of dead fish. No one knows why. Then in May 1988, 50,000 saiga antelope which had been grazing on a nearby steppe dropped dead – in the space of an hour.
The island’s secrets have endured, partly because it isn’t the kind of place where you can just turn up. Since Vozrozhdeniya was abandoned in the 1990s, there have only been a handful of expeditions. Nick Middleton, a journalist and geographer from Oxford University, filmed a documentary there back in 2005. “I was aware of what went on, so we got hold of a guy who used to work for the British military and he came to give the crew a briefing about the sorts of things we might find,” he says.
“He scared the pants off me, to be honest.”
That expert was Dave Butler, who ended up going with them. “There was a lot that could have gone wrong,” he says. As a precaution, Butler put the entire team on antibiotics, starting the week before. As a matter of necessity, they wore gas masks with hi-tech air filters, thick rubber boots and full white forensic-style suits, from the moment they arrived.
They weren’t being paranoid. Aerial photographs taken by the CIA in 1962 revealed that while other islands had piers and fish-packing huts, this one had a rifle range, barracks and parade ground. But that wasn’t even the half of it. There were also research buildings, animal pens and an open-air testing site. The island had been turned into a military base of the most dangerous kind: it was a bioweapons testing facility.
The project was a total secret, not even marked on Soviet maps, but those in the know called it Aralsk-7. Over the years the site flourished into a living nightmare, where anthrax, smallpox and the plague hung in great clouds over the land, and exotic diseases such as tularemia, brucellosis, and typhus rained down and seeped into the sandy soil.
The island was isolated enough that it wasn’t discovered until the 19th Century, making it the perfect place to hide from the prying eyes of Western intelligence. Failing that, the surrounding sea made a convenient natural moat.
These are the factors that led to it being chosen as the final resting place for the largest anthrax stockpile in human history. Its origins remain obscure, but it’s possible that the deadly cache was manufactured at Compound 19, a facility near the Russian city of Sverdlovsk, now Yekatarinburg.
Aralsk-7 was part of a bioweapons program on an industrial scale, one that employed over 50,000 people at 52 production facilities across the Soviet empire. Anthrax was produced in huge fermenting vats, tenderly nurtured as though they were growing beer.
In 1988, nine years after an anthrax leak at Compound 19 led to the deaths of at least 105 people, the Soviets finally decided to get rid of their cache. Huge vats of anthrax spores were mixed with bleach and transported the port town of Aralsk, on the shores of the Aral Sea (now 16 miles (25km) inland), where they were loaded onto barges and transported to Vozrozhdeniya. Some 100 to 200 tonnes of anthrax slurry was hastily dumped in pits and forgotten.
Most of the time, anthrax bacteria live as spores, an inactive form with extreme survival skills. They’ll shrug off pretty much anything you care to throw at them – from baths of noxious disinfectants to being roasted for up to two minutes at 180C (356F).
When they’re buried in the ground, the spores can survive for hundreds of years. In one case, they were recovered from an archaeological dig at the ruins of a medieval hospital in Scotland – along with the several-hundred-years-old remains of the lime they tried to kill them with.
More recently, a 12-year-old-boy died after being overcome by anthrax that had been lurking in the far north of Russia. The outbreak hospitalised 72 people from the nomadic Nenets tribe, including 41 children, and thousands of reindeer perished. It’s thought to have started when a heatwave thawed the carcass of a reindeer that was at least 75 years old.
As you might expect, the Soviets’ efforts at Vozrozhdeniya weren’t nearly enough. Years after the USSR’s collapse, in the wake of attacks in Tokyo and revelations about an extensive bioweapons programme in Iraq, fears were mounting about the prospect of terrorists or rogue governments getting their hands on any weaponised pathogens. So the US government sent teams of specialists to do some tests.
The precise location of the anthrax cache was never disclosed, but as it turns out this wasn’t a problem. The pits were so enormous, they were clearly visible in photos taken from space. Viable spores were found in several soil samples, and the US pledged $6m (£4.6m) for a project to clean the place up.
This involved a deep trench, dug next to the pits, some plastic lining and thousands of kilograms of powerful powdered bleach. All the team had to do was move several tonnes of contaminated soil into the trench – in 50C (122F) heat, while wearing full protective suits. In all, 100 local workers were hired and the project took four months to complete.
It worked. After stewing for six days with the powdered bleach, the spores were gone.
But that’s not quite the end of the story. Half a century of open-air testing has left the entire island contaminated – not just at the test site, but all over. “Oh, there will still be anthrax there, no problem,” says Les Baillie, an international expert on anthrax from Cardiff University. He spent a decade working at the UK’s former bioweapons research facility, Porton Down.
That’s not to mention the burial pits of infected animals, with up to a hundred corpses in each, or the unmarked grave of a woman who died while handling an infectious agent some decades ago. “Even when you bury an animal, you have to bury it a good couple of metres down. If the area floods the spores can float back up and earthworms in the soil can move it around,” he says.
Chillingly, there is a similar site much closer for comfort than the steppes of Central Asia: Gruinard, a small island just off the coast of the Scottish Highlands. From 1942 to 1943, just one year, it was the epicentre of the UK’s bioweapons programme. The tests involved tethering sheep in an open field or securing them in wooden frames, then exposing them to large doses of anthrax. Once it was exploded over the island, another time it was dropped from a plane.
The sheep would start dying three days later – “you can tell when an animal has died of anthrax. Just look for a bloated carcass with haemorrhaging,” says Baillie – after which their carcasses were carefully disposed of. The scientists burned the bodies and even dynamited a cliff over some to contain the contamination.
Just this single set of experiments rendered the island so contaminated, initial efforts to clean it up failed and the site was abandoned.
The only people to set foot there in half a century were scientists from Porton Down and two brothers, the Fletts, from the mainland. They rowed the 10-minute trip across the sea once a year to repaint the warning signs – and wore protective suits while doing so.
Soil samples taken in 1979 revealed that, nearly four decades later, there were still between 3,000 and 45,000 spores per gram of soil. Proposals for dealing with the “contaminated monster”, as it became known, ranged from concreting it all over, to removing the top layer of soil and dumping it in the North Atlantic.
In the end, every inch of the 1.96 sq km island was sprayed with 280 metric tonnes of formaldehyde solution mixed with seawater. It was finally declared safe in 1990. Today the island can be accessed easily by boat – though you’ll have to convince someone to take you first.
Thankfully, Vozrozhdeniya is not quite so accessible. To get there, Middleton, Butler and their team travelled across Kazakhstan to Quilandy, a nearby village on the mainland. The plan was to hire a boat to take them across the Aral Sea, and some guides. Naturally, the locals weren’t exactly falling over themselves to visit the notorious island – “They knew to stay away,” says Middleton – and in the end, they made an unlikely alliance with a gang of salvage-seekers.
The trip was delayed, as crew members were struck down by food poisoning. Hours after they were set to leave, a massive dust storm broke out, engulfing the village and the Aral Sea. “It was like the end of the world. We would have been in the middle of the storm in these rickety boats,” says Butler. “I don’t think we would have survived.”
The next day, they finally made it. The base is divided into two parts: the town of Kantubek, which was built to house scientists and their families, and the lab complex, which lies about two miles (3.2km) further south.
“Even once we got there, there was quite a way to go,” says Butler. The team had arrived from Kazakhstan, due to the difficulty of getting a visa from Uzbekistan – though this is where the base is actually located.
They traversed the island’s desert interior by moped, navigating without maps – “I think they used the Sun,” says Butler – while dressed in full biocontainment suits.
Though they knew it was dangerous, the gang had made several visits to the town before, ripping out copper pipes, removing light fixtures, gradually dismantling the town and scavenging what they could sell. “When you first see it, it looks like they’re still building it,” says Middleton.
Today Kantubek is a dilapidated ghost town, in which the signs of a once-comfortable life contrast with hints of something altogether more menacing. On the one hand, there are houses, a canteen and a couple of schools; on the other, the cracked portraits of military personnel, books by Marx and Lenin, and rusting tanks. “It’s weird because there’s this eerie sense of decay, but then there are incongruous elements, like a big war mural of a cartoon duck by a child’s playground,” he says. “There isn’t a single bird or insect – it’s totally quiet.”
The local gang was keen to get off the island as quickly as possible, so the crew didn’t have long. Soon they set off again, this time in search of the lab complex. “They took us to the front door of the place and said ‘we’ll wait outside’. They didn’t want to go in,” says Butler.
What they found at the site – officially called the Field Scientific Research Laboratory, or PNIL in Russian – was extremely disturbing. “The research buildings aren’t cleaned up at all,” says Middleton. “It just looks like they trashed the place and left.”
Vast glass tanks of hazardous substances line the walls, while the floor is covered in hundreds of thousands of smashed glass vials, pipettes and petri dishes. Discarded full-body suits, complete with alien-like masks and air hoses, are everywhere. The whole place has the feel of a dystopian video game – partly because it is (it’s featured in a version of the first-person shooter Call of Duty).
Here Butler stepped the safety up a notch and the team donned more complete breathing apparatus that filters the air. “Buildings tend to concentrate whatever’s there,” says Butler. In addition to stray anthrax, the team ran the gauntlet of formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic if you breathe it in.
But the sense of control didn’t last long. “We’d been in there for about 15 minutes and the canisters started to become defeated,” says Butler. When an air filter is overloaded, the first sign is usually a whiff of some noxious aroma which has snuck through. “It can happen if you get a real corrosive, industrial chemical in concentrated quantities.”
Whatever it was, they decided to get out, fast. Butler was happy to camp overnight and visit the testing range the following day, but the others had seen enough. “For me it was quite exciting – a chance to put all the knowledge I have into practice,” says Butler. “But I suppose I’m weird like that.”
As an extra precaution, Butler took nasal swabs from every member of the team and checked them for anthrax spores.
He had good reason to be worried. There are several ways to die from anthrax, and the gruesome details of each depend on how you were infected. There’s the gastrointestinal route, which is common in grass-eating animals such as cattle, horses, sheep and goats and still leads to human deaths in developing countries to this day. The symptoms vary, but tend to include vomiting, diarrhoea, and lesions all the way from the mouth to the intestines.
Failing that, skin contact alone is often enough; back in 19th Century Yorkshire, so-called “woolsorters disease” was an occupational hazard for people who worked in the textile industry.
But by far the most unpleasant fate is to inhale some. Once a spore makes its way into the body, first it hitches a lift to the lymph nodes. There the spores begin to hatch and multiply – eventually spilling out into the bloodstream and leading to widespread tissue damage and internal bleeding. It’s thought that the whole process can take months to complete, but in the end, at least eight out of 10 people die in the process.
“It’s probably an ideal biological weapon as is,” says Talima Pearson, a biologist from Northern Arizona University who helped to sequence the strain that caused the outbreak at Sverdlovsk. “They were probably getting it from out in the wild.”
And not all of it was ordinary anthrax. Aralsk-7 was built amidst a bioweapons arms race with the US and the UK – a perilous mission to take already-lethal pathogens and make them even more hardy, infectious and deadly. Pains were taken to ensure bacteria were resistant to antibiotics and viruses could infect even those who had been vaccinated.
To achieve this, the scientists grew up industrial quantities of pathogens collected from the wild and honed in on those with the right characteristics. “The more material, the more chances there are to find what you’re looking for,” says Baillie.
But on 10 April, 1972, the three signed a treaty agreeing to give it up. This is precisely the moment that the Soviets launched the most terrifying programme yet. This time, they would use the emerging science of molecular genetics. These bioweapons would be designed, not just cultivated.
This included a particularly nasty strain of anthrax, known to researchers as STI. For starters, it was resistant to an impressive array of antibiotics, including penicillin, rifampin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, macrolides and lincomycin. But that’s not the only reason you really, really don’t want to be infected by STI.
As if regular anthrax wasn’t bad enough, the scientists decided this natural killer needed a final flourish: toxins which can rupture red blood cells and rot human tissue. Scientists took the genes from a close relative, Bacillus cereus, and added them using the latest scientific techniques.
Anthrax naturally grows in clumps, but these can get caught up in the nostrils and don’t always lead to an infection. So the Soviets liked to grind them down using industrial machinery. The final result is just five micrometres long – at least 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. “That’s the perfect size to be inhaled,” says Butler.
Before the team left for the island, Butler constructed a decontamination zone on the beach – basically just an outdoor tap – and stockpiled antibacterial soap. When they returned, every member stripped down naked and scrubbed themselves clean. “We had to make sure we didn’t have any spores in the, erm, hairy parts of our bodies,” he says.
Thankfully the team’s swabs came back negative and even the salvage-seekers, who refused their offer of protective gear, escaped unscathed. For the moment, the anthrax at Vozrozhdeniya remains in the ground.
But what of the mysterious outbreaks in the 1970s and 80s? It’s now known that the Lev Berg strayed into an aerosol cloud of weaponised smallpox that had recently been exploded on the island. The incident was suppressed by the Soviet powers of the time, including KGB boss Yuri Andropov who later became Soviet premier. It’s not known exactly which strain they were infected with, but according to David Evans, a virologist at the University of Alberta, Canada, it’s likely to have been India-1967.
“We know this because this is the strain the Soviets sequenced,” says Evans. “They used a very old fashioned method which required astonishing quantities of DNA to do it, so it makes sense that they’d sequence the same one that they were weaponising.”
This was a highly virulent strain, first isolated from an Indian man who brought it to Moscow in 1967. There are two possible reasons it was able to infect those who had already been vaccinated: the vaccination didn’t work, or they were exposed to a particularly high dose.
“The Soviet vaccine was criticised, so it’s possible it just wasn’t working very well,” says Evans. “And a very high dose of anything can overcome an immunisation.” If the vaccine wasn’t working, India-1967 would have been a particularly dangerous virus to be exposed to.
So could the island still be infectious today? “Oh it would be long gone,” says Evans. The Russians recently rediscovered the victims of a smallpox epidemic in Siberia, after melting permafrost exposed their graves. Though their corpses had been frozen solid for 120 years, the scientists didn’t find any virus – just its DNA.
Evans works on the vaccine strain of the virus, which is related but only causes a localised skin infection. “Even in my lab where we store it in a -80C (-112F) freezer under ideal conditions, the virus slowly loses infectivity over time,” he says.
As for the plague, though the Soviets were working on weaponising it, the bacteria remains widespread in Central Asia to this day – in fact, the number of cases increased sharply after the USSR collapsed. Which just leaves us with the fish and the antelope. Both remain a mystery, but the widespread pollution in the Aral Sea at the time and more recent mass antelope die-offs suggest that both had alternative causes.
Translated into English, Vozrozhdeniya means “rebirth”. Let’s hope the island’s pathogens don’t experience one any time soon.
«In 2013 President Xi Jinping revived this ancient endeavour, with the aim of linking China with Asia, Africa, eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East»
«In 2018 the new Silk Road will get a digital dimension. China will extend coverage of its home-grown satellite-navigation system to the 60-plus countries along the belt and road»
«By 2020 China aims to compete directly with America’s Global Positioning System (GPS), and expand its services globally with a network of 35 satellites»
«BeiDou connects the unconnected»
«The UN says that 62% of people in the Asia-Pacific region are not currently online»
«In addition to over $1trn in planned belt and road investments, China is spending an estimated $25bn on BeiDou.»
«More than 30 countries have signed agreements to embed BeiDou domestically»
* * * * * * *
«BeiDou, which is under military control, enables China to end its dependence on America’s GPS.»
«Now China can deploy BeiDou-guided conventional strike weapons »
* * * * * * *
Mentre l’Occidente investe gran parte dei bilanci statali in welfare e benefit, stipendi e vitalizi, la Cina investe cifre colossali in infrastrutture, dalle quali si attende anche un congruo ritorno economico, duraturo nel tempo.
È semplicemente evidente che alla fine il modello cinese è quello destinato a vincere. Con tutte quelle che saranno le ovvie conseguenze. Infatti sta semplicemente accerchiando l’Occidente.
Due elementi da mettere in evidenza.
«BeiDou connects the unconnected»
Già: ed i paesi che l’Occidente aveva snobbato saranno forse ingrati verso i cinesi?
«BeiDou, which is under military control»
Si è avvisati.
Tra tre anni la Cina disporrà di un sistema sia civile sia militare di geolocalizzazione: questo era l’elemento cardine per permettere il passaggio da potenza locoregionale a mondiale.
Poi non ci si stupisca più di tanto se alla fine la Cina esercitasse il potere che sta pazientemente costruendo.
Over 2,000 years ago the Silk Road carried goods, services and ideas across the Eurasian continent. In 2013 President Xi Jinping revived this ancient endeavour, with the aim of linking China with Asia, Africa, eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. His “belt-and-road” initiative (overland and maritime respectively) involves ambitious plans for infrastructure.
In 2018 the new Silk Road will get a digital dimension. China will extend coverage of its home-grown satellite-navigation system to the 60-plus countries along the belt and road. By 2020 China aims to compete directly with America’s Global Positioning System (GPS), and expand its services globally with a network of 35 satellites.
By the start of 2018 what China is calling BeiDou (its term for the Big Dipper) will have nearly 30 satellites, narrowing its accuracy to well below ten metres. That still leaves it behind GPS, which can pinpoint positions to a metre or less. But it is catching up and aims eventually to surge ahead.
Improvements mean faster, more efficient broadcasting. Navigation services will also get a boost. And BeiDou connects the unconnected. The UN says that 62% of people in the Asia-Pacific region are not currently online. Expanding coverage will be costly. In addition to over $1trn in planned belt and road investments, China is spending an estimated $25bn on BeiDou.
More than 30 countries have signed agreements to embed BeiDou domestically. Many authorise China to build ground stations, which improve BeiDou’s accuracy and reliability. On top of this, China has a three-year plan to invest in information infrastructure projects worth a combined $174bn, including the development of fibre-optic cables for high-speed internet.
Already, more than 150m Chinese smartphones, or 20% of the market, are equipped with BeiDou, and over 40,000 fishing vessels use it to communicate. Some 20m bicycles and motorcycles employ its positioning services. BeiDou-enabled services were worth more than $25bn in 2015; this is expected to double by 2020. A sub-industry of BeiDou-compatible chips, antennas and products aimed at the mass market has also formed.
Economic development is only part of the point. BeiDou, which is under military control, enables China to end its dependence on America’s GPS. Now China can deploy BeiDou-guided conventional strike weapons. As well as autonomy, the system brings the prestige of fielding one of the world’s four global navigation satellite systems (Europe, America and Russia manage the other three).
Critics worry about two things. China’s secrecy is a concern, especially when something goes wrong with the satellites. And, as with the rest of the belt-and-road initiative, China’s lopsided assumption of financial risk could cause problems if the returns are lacklustre.
Still, the government is committed to the plan. As the Chinese proverb goes, “If you want to get rich, first build a road.” In 2018, that means a digital highway, too.
Lo Cazr Imperatore Alessandro I entra a Parigi il 30 marzo 1814.
«Il testo della canzone fa discutere».
Tradotto in un linguaggio come si mangia, il testo della canzone fa discutere i liberal democratici ed i socialisti ideologici, mica la gente comune che tanto se ne guarda bene dal continuare a votarli. Liberal e socialisti incominciano a vedersi in Siberia, sopra il circolo polare artico, a coltivar prezzemolo.
«There is no opinion of its own in the European Union
And we are – from our northern seas to southern borders, from the Kuril islands to the Baltic shore The Samurais will never get this line of islands,
We’ll stand up and protect the amber capital,
We’ll keep our Sevastopol and Crimea for our descendants,
We’ll bring Alaska back home.»
«Pronti ad morire in guerra per la Russia, se ce lo chiederà Vladimir Putin»
«l’Ue è descritta come insignificante»
«il presidente americano è senza potere»
«tra le varie belligeranti promesse c’è quella di riprendersi l’Alaska dagli Usa»
«Vorremmo che nel mondo ci fosse la pace, cantano, ma se il comandante supremo ci chiama per l’ultima battaglia, Zio Putin, noi saremo con te»
«The song in the video footage shared online is seen as an opening shot in Vladimir Putin’s bid for another six years in the Kremlin – and references Japan, the Middle East and EU»
La storia ci insegna fino a qual punto i russi se la leghino al dito quando si cerca di calpestarli.
Quando Napoleone si era illuso di piegare la Russia nel 1812 imparò la lezione sulla Beresina, poi fece il ripasso a Leipzig, ed infine i russi vinsero la battaglia di Parigi del 31 marzo 1814, e se ne entrarono nella capitale francese, mentre Napoleone se ne andava a Sant’Elena. Ebbero 18,000 tra morti e feriti in quella sola battaglia, ma alla fine vinsero, e vinsero in modo completo. Ed usarono una mano ben pesante.
Centotrenta anni dopo ci riprovarono i tedeschi. Alla fine i russi parcheggiarono i loro carri armati sulla verticale della cancelleria tedesca: subirono quasi venti milioni di morti, ma chiusero la partita.
I russi sono pazienti, ma quando si mettono in moto finiscono il loro compito in modo definitivo. Non hanno mezze misure.
Negli anni novanta, dopo la implosione dell’Unione sovietica l’Occidente impose severe condizioni alla Russia. Fece quello che mai un Richelieu oppure un Bismarck si sarebbe mai sognato di fare: li umiliarono.
La storia insegna che o si annienta oppure si tratta.
Chi si illudesse che i russi se ne siano dimenticati sarebbe davvero galatticamente ingenuo.
Ora l’Unione Europea sta disgregandosi, non ha nessun esercito degno di quel nome, è debosciata nel cuore e nella mente. Rigurgita di islamici infidi e le sue donne sono in gran parte depravate.
È forse questa l’Europa per cui andare a morire?
È forse questa la donna che dovrei difendere in battaglia?
Nella sala attivazione e lancio dei missili ad armamento atomico i nove addetti erano ebbri di cocaina e si scopavano le colleghe femmine, o facenti funzioni, sbalzandole/i sulla plancia dei comandi di lancio. Ed i russi dovettero avvisare gli inglese che avevano un bordello a bordo del loro sommergile nucleare: di bloccare quegli incoscienti.
La crisi tedesca innesca inevitabilmente quella dell’Unione Europea.
Sarà un periodo di chaos ove tutto potrebbe accadere.
Il video canoro iniziativa di una deputata putiniana “di ferro”.
Pronti ad morire in guerra per la Russia, se ce lo chiederà Vladimir Putin: la canzone ‘Zio Vova” – dove Vova è un affettuoso diminutivo per Vladimir – è una iniziativa della devota deputata putiniana Anna Kuvychko, eseguita da un coro di ragazzi che studiano nella scuola di polizia della regione di Volgograd, ovvero di quella che fu Stalingrado, città eroe che ancora oggi per i russi simboleggia la resistenza, il sacrificio e infine la vittoria sull’esercito nazista.
Il testo della canzone fa discutere – l’Ue è descritta come insignificante, il presidente americano è senza potere e tra le varie belligeranti promesse c’è quella di riprendersi l’Alaska dagli Usa – ma per il Cremlino è una semplice “dimostrazione di simpatia” nei confronti di Putin. Il messaggio dei giovanissimi cadetti è certamente gradito all’uomo forte che ha fatto del patriottismo il suo manifesto: “Vorremmo che nel mondo ci fosse la pace, cantano, ma se il comandante supremo ci chiama per l’ultima battaglia, Zio Putin, noi saremo con te”.
The song in the video footage shared online is seen as an opening shot in Vladimir Putin’s bid for another six years in the Kremlin – and references Japan, the Middle East and EU.
This is the moment Russian Police cadets sang a “chilling propaganda anthem” vowing to grab back the US state of Alaska – and never surrender Crimea.
The content of the song in the video footage shared online is seen as an opening shot in Vladimir Putin ‘s bid for another six years in the Kremlin.
Sung by cadets from a military-style college against a background of World War Two monuments in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, it oozes patriotism and depicts a weak, divided West.
It also cheekily borrowing a clip from a Brexit rally in the UK to justify the strongman’s bid to restore Russian might.
“We want our country back”, trumpet the Vote to Leave posters, mixed here with a message that the Russian young are ready to die for “Uncle Vova”, aka Vladimir Putin – Vova being a fond version of his first name.
Putin, aged 65, has not yet declared if he will run or not for a six year term in the March 2018 presidential election, but meanwhile videos like this show the path being cleared for him to notch up another landslide 18 years after he first took the Kremlin helm.
One of his ultra-loyal MPs Anna Kuvychko sings along with the uniformed cadets with lyrics which seem to predict Donald Trump’s impeachment and write off the European Union as of no consequence.
The song – redolent of Soviet-style propaganda – makes clear there will be no concessions to Japan in the disputed Kuril Islands, several of which Tokyo claims, nor 11 time zones away to NATO over the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, an amber-rich region bristling with Russian military firepower.
The first verse takes a swipe at America’s perceived role as a superpower seeking global hegemony with the EU painted as its supplicant:
The 21st century is here – the Earth has got weary of wars,
The population of the planet is sick and tired with hegemony.
There is no opinion of its own in the European Union,
The Middle East is groaning from troubles,
Across the ocean the president was stripped of his power.
Then comes a refrain, making clear the obedience of these cadets to Putin if he orders them into action in the ‘final battle’:
And we are – from our northern seas to southern borders, from the Kuril islands to the Baltic shore,
We wish for peace in this land, but if the main commander calls us up for the last battle –
Uncle Vova, we are with you!
The anthem goes on:
And what will be left for my generation? If we are weak, we will lose the whole country.
And our devoted friends – these are the army and navy,
And a red star of a grandfather as a memory of friendship.
Then comes the Uncle Vova refrain once more before the next verse vows:
The Samurais will never get this line of islands,
We’ll stand up and protect the amber capital,
We’ll keep our Sevastopol and Crimea for our descendants,
We’ll bring Alaska back home.
As the cadets dream of grabbing America’s largest state — sold by the Romanov tsars for $7.2 million in 1867 — they give a final stirring rendering of the refrain.
Major newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets noted it showed “kids ready to die for Putin” and said the song – supposedly the initiative of the woman MP, an ultra-loyalist in his United Russia party – has gone viral.
The young singers are reported to be from Volgograd Police Cadet school 44, and the song comes at a time when observers note a return to pride in the military and law enforcement agencies in Russia.
Volgograd is a “hero city” for its role in pushing back the Nazis, with some two million killed in the Battle of Stalingrad as Hitler’s thrust into the USSR was reversed.
Kuvychko, who represents Volgograd, said on Facebook: “The growing generation of hero city Volgograd, who are they?
“They are thinking people, and very much loving our country – the great Russia!
“They were brought up with the help of an example given by our defenders, they clearly understand that their great-grandfathers were fighting here, on Stalingrad’s land, long ago for this blue peaceful sky.
“They are facing different challenges these days no less serious than before.
“But they will manage and they will win!”
Other comments are not so positive, with critics claiming it is “a chilling propaganda anthem” aimed at backing Putin’s bid to keep his grip on Russia.
“Don’t mix up your Motherland and Uncle Vova. Love to the big boss is not about patriotism,” said one.
“We’re right on the way to a new North Korea,” complained another.
A critic added: “It is a pure political propaganda, dragging children into politics and teaching them from early years that war is a good thing.
“And those words about taking Alaska are hardcore.
«The S-500 Prometey (Russian: C-500 Прометей, Prometheus), also known as 55R6M “Triumfator-M.”, is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system intended to replace the A-135 missile system currently in use, and supplement the S-400. The S-500 is under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern and with its characteristics it will be much similar to the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.
The S-500 is a new generation surface-to-air missile system. It is designed for intercepting and destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, for air defense against Airborne Early Warning and Control, and for jamming aircraft. With a planned range of 600 km (370 mi) for Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) and 400 km (250 mi) for the air defense, the S-500 would be able to detect and simultaneously engage up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5 kilometres per second (3.1 mi/s; 18,000 km/h; 11,000 mph) to a limit of 7 km/s (4.3 mi/s; 25,000 km/h; 16,000 mph). It also aims at destroying hypersonic cruise missiles and other aerial targets at speeds of higher than Mach 5 as well as spacecraft. The altitude of a target engaged can be as high as 180–200 km (110–120 mi). It is effective against ballistic missiles with a launch range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi), the radar reaches a radius of 3,000 km (1,300 km for the EPR 0,1 square meter).
The main components of the S-500 will be:
– the launch vehicle 77P6, based on the BAZ-69096 10×10 truck;
– the command posts 55K6MA and 85Zh6-2 on BAZ-69092-12 6×6;
– the acquisition and battle management radar 91N6A(M), a modification of the 91N6 (Big Bird) towed by the BAZ-6403.01 8×8 tractor;
– the 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, an upgraded version of the 96L6 (Cheese Board) on BAZ-69096 10×10;
– the multimode engagement radar 76T6 on BAZ-6909-022 8×8;
– the ABM engagement radar 77T6 on BAZ-69096 10×10;
Response time of less than 4 seconds (S-400 less than 10)» [Fonte]
«The Russian military is gearing up to test the first prototypes of its next-generation S-500 Prometey air and missile defense system, which is also known as 55R6M «Triumfator-M».
The weapon is not an upgrade but the fifth (new) generation system, capable of destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft, hypersonic cruise missiles and airplanes at speeds of higher than Mach 5.
The S-500 is expected to be much more capable than the current S-400 Triumph.
For instance, its response time is only 3-4 seconds (for comparison, the response time of S-400 is nine to ten seconds).
The S-500 is able to detect and simultaneously attack (as well as make speeds of up to 4.3 miles per second) up to ten ballistic missile warheads out at 600 km flying at speeds of twenty-three thousand feet per second.
Prometey can engage targets at altitudes of about 125 miles, including incoming ballistic missiles in space at ranges as great as 400 miles.
Experts believe that the systems capabilities can affect enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles at the end and the middle portion.
Some sources report, that the S-500 system can detect ballistic missile at a range of 2000 km and warheads of ballistic missiles at a range of 1300 km.
It makes the system capable of defeating ballistic missiles before their warheads re-enter atmosphere.» [Strategic Culture]
Nessuna forza militare ama parlare dei propri armamenti, specie poi di quelli innovativi.
Spesso le informazioni che trapelano sono solo quelle volutamente rilasciate, e l’esperienza insegna che dovrebbero essere prese con buon senso, anche perché sono spesso discordanti.
Per quanto riguarda il sistema S-500 una fonte riporta:
«Some sources report, that the S-500 system can detect ballistic missile at a range of 2 000 km and warheads of ballistic missiles at a range of 1 300 km. It can defeat ballistic missiles before their warheads re-enter atmosphere.» [Military Today]
Esattamente come un’altra fonte riporta che
«It has been reported that there is also an S-1000 system being developed in Russia. Possibly it is a modification of the S-500.»
Segnaliamo un lungo articolo di Mirko Molteni sull’argomento.
Il vero segreto militare gelosamente custodito è come facciano i russi a stare tecnologicamente allo stato dell’arte spendendo 69 miliardi Usd all’anno, circa due volte di quanto spenda l’Italia. Solo che la Russia è una potenza nucleare ed ha un esercito di quasi un milione e mezzo di effettivi, armati fino ai denti.
Gli Usa spendono 611 mld, i paesi dell’Unione Europea ne spendono 347 all’anno. L’Occidente spende 14 volte quanto stanzia la Russia, ma con risultati non confortanti.
I conti non tornano visibilmente, né si può dire che i russi spendano di più: semplicemente non avrebbero risorse sufficienti per farlo.
Russia’s Air and Space Forces are to receive state-of-the-art S-500 Prometey (“Prometheus”) anti-aircraft missile systems by 2020, Lieutenant-General Viktor Gumenny, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force said. Russia has been developing the new system since 2011.
The new anti-aircraft missile systems of the S-500 will have a number of advantages. The S-500 is believed to be a universal anti-aircraft long-range and high-altitude missile interception system with an enhanced missile defense capability.
According to information from open sources, the S-500 has an impact radius of 600 kilometers. The complex will be able to detect and simultaneously strike up to ten ballistic supersonic targets flying at speeds of up to seven kilometers per second. It will also be able to defeat combat blocks of hypersonic missiles. In a nutshell, the new complex will become one of the elements of counteraction to the USA’s Prompt Global Strike Concept.
According to the National Interest, the S-500 of Russia will be similar to THAAD, integrated into a “single network” with S-400, S-300VM4 (Antey-2500) and S-350 (Vityaz) systems thus forming an integrated air defense system.
Generally speaking, experts believe that the S-500 can be attributed to the first generation of systems of anti-space defense, unrivaled throughout the world.
At present, Russia’s air defenses are based on S-400 complexes. As of May of this year, the armed forces of the Russian Federation had nineteen S-400 regiments (38 divisions out of 304 launchers).
The S-400 Triumph system has gained a lot of international attention recently primarily because of Russia’s agreements to sell those systems to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Given the history of the development of the American THAAD system that has experienced many problems in more than ten years of tests, there are reasons to believe that it will take Russia a long time to create an effective anti-missile system, the National Interest assumed.
However, Russia has extensive experience in the development of anti-missile systems, and her present-day complexes are still top of the line, so Russia can take her time.
Amendments to the list of agricultural produce, raw materials and food products originating from the Republic of Turkey, the import of which has been banned since 1 January 2016, stipulate that the term “fresh or chilled tomatoes” be amended with a footnote saying that the produce imported within the import quota approved by the Agriculture Ministry shall be excluded from the ban.
The resolution was drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Government Resolution No. 1296 of 30 November 2015 approved the list of agricultural produce, raw materials and food products originating from the Republic of Turkey and subject to an import ban effective 1 January 2016 (hereinafter referred to as the List).
The resolution makes amendments to the List. Under the resolution, the term “fresh or chilled tomatoes” (EAEU Commodity Classification of Foreign Economic Activity 0702 00) has been amended with a footnote saying that the produce imported within the import quota approved by the Agriculture Ministry shall be excluded from the ban.
The resolution enters into effect on 1 November 2017.
The amendment will allow Turkey to export tomatoes in the amounts approved by the Agriculture Ministry under the guarantee of a competent Turkish agency and under the supervision of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) starting 1 November 2017.
Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Russian President congratulated Mr Erdogan on Turkey’s national holiday – Republic Day – marked on October 29.
The two presidents had a thorough exchange of views on various aspects of successful bilateral cooperation, including the implementation of major joint energy projects.
Ahead of the seventh international meeting on Syria to be held in Astana on October 30–31, the two sides stressed the importance of stepping up efforts to ensure the functioning of de-escalation zones, fighting terrorism and promoting the political settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The two leaders agreed to maintain personal contacts.
Il Presidente Trump, esattamente come il Presidente Putin, sa benissimo come la Germania entro quindici anni sarà spopolata dagli autoctoni e tramutata in un enclave islamico, indifendibile dal punto di vista americano e facilissima preda per la Russia. Preda obbligatoria, per non esserne contagiata.
Per quale motivo correre il rischio di un conflitto nucleare per la Germania?
Tanto alla fine i russi dovranno occupare un’Europa spopolata degli autoctoni per impedire che diventi un nuovo focolaio islamico.
Il problema è drammaticamente semplice.
La pace può essere mantenuto solo sotto la condizione che tutti i possibili contendenti siano in un ragionevole equilibrio di forze. E questo è vero da un punto di vista degli armamenti atomici.
La grande disparità è evidente per quanto riguarda gli eserciti e gli armamenti convenzionali.
Gli Occidentali non hanno forze armate degne di quel nome, non intendono spendere in armamenti e, soprattutto, non hanno un numero sufficiente di uomini da arruolare.
Né ci si illuda delle capacità combattive delle donne immesse le truppe di prima linea. Saranno unità di svago per gli avversari.
«NATO would be incapable of rebuffing an attack by Russia on its eastern flank»
Ciò chiarito, facciamo alcune considerazioni.
La Russia non è al momento interessata ad una guerra europea, se non per quanto riguardasse il ricongiungimento delle popolazioni russofone della zona del Don.
Ma questo quadro potrebbe non durare a lungo nel tempo.
L’Europa continentale continua implacabilmente a spopolarsi degli autoctoni.
Non serve la sfera di cristallo per comprendere come saranno inevitabili fortissime tensioni sociali: tutta una situazione che la Nato identifica come “Turbulence and Competition.». Ben difficilmente la Russia potrà tollerare una simile situazione ai suoi confini: più che invasione si tratterebbe di un’operazione su vasta scala di polizia.
Intanto, a tal punto, la Nato sarà ridotta da un punto di vista militare ai soli Stati Uniti.
Ma, domandiamoci seriamente, tra dieci anni la Nato, sempre che ci sia ancora, sarà interessata al controllo del continente europeo?
BERLIN: NATO would be incapable of rebuffing an attack by Russia on its eastern flank, according to an internal report by the alliance cited Friday by German magazine Der Spiegel.
The document, entitled “Progress Report on the Strengthened Deterrence and Defense Capability of the Alliance,” identified significant deficiencies.
“NATO’s ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander’s area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War,” Spiegel quoted the report as saying. Even the expansion of the NATO Response Force (NRF) had failed to ensure that it could “react rapidly and — if necessary — sustainably,” it said.
The report cited a pared-down command structure since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as one of the crucial factors that had undermined the alliance’s defense capabilities, Spiegel said.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the Spiegel report but said that alliance “forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades.”
She added that work was “underway to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile and fit for purpose,” an issue to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers next month.
NATO’s relations with Russia have hit their lowest point since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.
After Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, the alliance suspended its civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, and Ukraine announced its intention to apply for NATO membership.
The alliance also fast-tracked preparations for the defense of eastern European members and tripled the size of its Response Force, with a new 5,000-member rapid reaction force at its core.
The US-led alliance has bolstered its forces in eastern Europe with four international battalions acting as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region.
But NATO has also tried to maintain dialogue with Moscow, and ambassadors from its 29 member states will meet their Russian counterpart next Thursday in Brussels.
→ C4 Defence. 2017-10-21. NATO-Russia-defence. [Uluslararası Savunma Haberleri (Notizie sulla difesa internazionale)]
NATO-Russia-defence NATO ill-prepared for a Russian attack: report Berlin, Oct 20, 2017 (AFP) – NATO would be incapable of rebuffing an attack by Russia on its eastern flank, according to an internal report by the alliance cited Friday by German magazine Der Spiegel. The document, entitled “Progress Report on the Strengthened Deterrence and Defence Capability of the Alliance”, identified significant deficiencies. “NATO’s ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander’s area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War,” Spiegel quoted the report as saying. Even the expansion of the NATO Response Force (NRF) had failed to ensure that it could “react rapidly and — if necessary — sustainably”, it said. The report cited a pared-down command structure since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as one of the crucial factors that had undermined the alliance’s defence capabilities, Spiegel said. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the Spiegel report but said that alliance “forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades”. She added that work was “underway to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile and fit for purpose,” an issue to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defence ministers next month. NATO’s relations with Russia have hit their lowest point since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine. After Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, the alliance suspended its civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, and Ukraine announced its intention to apply for NATO membership. The alliance also fast-tracked preparations for the defence of eastern European members and tripled the size of its Response Force, with a new 5,000-member rapid reaction force at its core. The US-led alliance has bolstered its forces in eastern Europe with four international battalions acting as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region. But NATO has also tried to maintain dialogue with Moscow, and ambassadors from its 29 member states will meet their Russian counterpart next Thursday in Brussels.
NATO would not be able to rebuff a potential Russian attack on its eastern flank, according to an internal report cited on October 20 by German weekly Der Spiegel.
The paper, titled Progress Report On The Strengthened Deterrence And Defense Capability Of The Alliance, pointed to significant deficiencies.
“NATO’s ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander’s area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War,” Der Spiegel quoted the report as saying.
Even the strengthening of the NATO Response Force (NRF) has failed to ensure that it could “react rapidly and — if necessary — sustainably,” it said.
The report cited a downsized command structure since the fall of communism as one of the paramount elements that has undermined the alliance’s defense capabilities, Der Spiegel quoted the report as saying.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the German magazine report but said that alliance “forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades.”
Lungescu said that efforts are “under way to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile, and fit for purpose.”
The alliance’s command structure is to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers next month.
NATO’s relations with Russia are at their lowest since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.
After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, NATO suspended its civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, as Ukraine announced its intention to seek membership in the alliance.
In einem Geheimbericht warnt die Nato davor, dass man einem Angriff Russlands nicht gewachsen sei. Führende Militärs fordern eine Rückkehr zu den Kommandostrukturen des Kalten Krieges.
Das 2. Kavallerie-Regiment ist einer der ältesten Verbände der US-Armee. Schon 1846 kämpften Soldaten der Einheit gegen die Mexikaner. In den Indianerkriegen zwei Jahrzehnte später geriet ein Teil des Regiments in einen Hinterhalt und wurde skalpiert. 1905 schlugen die Kavalleristen einen Aufstand auf den Philippinen nieder. Die Truppe war in zwei Weltkriegen im Einsatz und wurde mehrmals in den Irak und nach Afghanistan verlegt.