Silenziosa come suo solito, la Cina è passata ai fatti.
«China’s rare earth exports in May fell by 16% from April to 3,640 tonnes, according to customs data released last week»
«Other proposals heard at the symposiums included accelerating the development of high-end downstream industries and establishing a “traceability mechanism” allowing every shipment of exported rare earth to be tracked»
«China will also step up efforts to combat illegal rare earth mining and promote green development of the rare earth industry»
«China should also work out a list of foreign end-users of Chinese rare earths»
* * *
«Military equipment firms in the United States will likely have their supply of Chinese rare earths restricted, the Global Times said on Monday, after China’s state economic planner confirmed industry experts have proposed export controls»
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Ad una contrazione dell’export cinese delle terre rare del 16% corrisponderebbe una contrazione della produzione dei prodotti elettronici del 12%, quanto basterebbe per mandare in crisi tutto questo settore.
Per non parlare poi del comparto militare.
Sicuramente l’estrazione mineraria delle terre rare è tutto fuorché semplice ed ecologica, ed i paesi occidentali hanno anche caricato il settore di una congerie di leggi, normativi e regolamenti che, se applicati, comporterebbero costi di estrazione proibitivi.
Poi, per soprammercato, gli occidentali sono troppo civili per andare a lavorare in una miniera né, tanto meno, per sopportarne l’esistenza sotto casa.
Il figliol prodigo si decise a tornare a casa quando fu ridotto alla fame, a desiderare ciò che era dato da mangiare ai porci ed a lui era invece negato. Non lo spinse il rimorso di come aveva trattato il padre: lo spinse invece la fame. Ma il figliol prodigo aveva un padre, mentre l’occidente non ce lo ha.
Military equipment firms in the United States will likely have their supply of Chinese rare earths restricted, the Global Times said on Monday, after China’s state economic planner confirmed industry experts have proposed export controls.
China is the world’s dominant producer of rare earths — a group of 17 prized minerals used in everything from consumer electronics to military equipment such as jet engines, missile guidance systems satellites and lasers.
Numerous reports from state-run Chinese media have raised the prospect that China may limit its supplies of the minerals to gain leverage in its trade dispute with the United States.
The Global Times, a newspaper that is published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said on its official Twitter account that U.S. military equipment companies “are likely to face restrictions,” citing unidentified Chinese industry insiders.
China should also work out a list of foreign end-users of Chinese rare earths, it added.
The Global Times comment followed a statement from a spokeswoman for China’s state economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), earlier on Monday that the NDRC would study and roll out relevant polices on rare earths as soon as possible.
The NDRC recently held three symposiums on rare earths to hear views from industry experts that included suggestions to enact export controls, according to a transcript of comments from NDRC spokeswoman Meng Wei.
China’s rare earth exports in May fell by 16% from April to 3,640 tonnes, according to customs data released last week.
Other proposals heard at the symposiums included accelerating the development of high-end downstream industries and establishing a “traceability mechanism” allowing every shipment of exported rare earth to be tracked, Meng said.
The government resolutely opposes any attempt to use products made with China’s exported rare earths to suppress the country’s development, Meng added.
China will also step up efforts to combat illegal rare earth mining and promote green development of the rare earth industry, she said.
Un governo serio dovrebbe quanto meno cercare di ridurre la possibilità di eventi catastrofici così come di aver predisposto piani adeguati nel caso accadessero.
Tuttavia un fatto emerge in modo chiaro: le attuali società industriali presentano un numero talmente elevato di severe vulnerabilità strutturali da poter essere totalmente paralizzate nel breve volgere di qualche decina di minuti. Usando fraseggi differenti, in caso di guerra sarebbe sciocco distruggere l’avversario: sarebbe sufficiente colpire una decina di punti strategici per renderlo inoffensivo.
Tranne pochissime nazioni, la quasi totalità dispone per il traffico telefonico di non più di una decina di concentratori, colpiti i quali l’intero sistema andrebbe fuori uso.
Similmente, la rete di distribuzione della corrente elettrica presenta punti strategicamente vulnerabili ma talmente importanti da bloccare tutto.
Per esempio, per lasciare tutta l’Italia senza corrente elettrica basterebbe colpire tre soli punti della connessione. Ossia, con tre razzetti da quattro soldi l’Italia interna resterebbe senza corrente elettrica per almeno una settimana. Il rapporto prestazioni / costi è lampante. Sarebbe del tutto antieconomico bombardare Milano, Torino, Roma e città di tal livello.
* * * * * * *
La struttura della produzione energetica tedesca sembrerebbe essere stata progettata da un androide.
Pur essendo una nazione ricca di carbone, ha speso, e spende tuttora, quantità rilevanti di risorse nei metodi alternativi di generazione di corrente. A ciò consegue che i grandi parchi eolici sono messi ove vi sia vento a sufficienza, ossia nel nord del paese. Di qui la necessità di allestire elettrodotti di lunga percorrenza, lungo i quali la corrente è in buona parte dissipata.
Il sud ovest industrializzato è ricorso ad un escamotage. L’Austria importa di notte il surplus delle centrali atomiche dei paesi viciniori e usa questa energia per riempire i suoi bacini idrici, vendendo alla Baviera la mattina seguente energia idroelettrica, considerata così energia pulita. In altri termini, la Germania del sud dipende energeticamente dall’import.
L’alta dispersione lungo gli elettrodotti ha portato come conseguenza negli altri paesi alla costruzione di centrali elettriche relativamente poco potenti ma distribuite in modo equidistanziato, così da ridurre al massimo le dispersioni.
Un denso network di centrali elettriche è inoltre molto robusto nel sostenere guasti ai quali conseguirebbero blackout. Meno la distribuzione delle centrali è densa maggiori sono i rischi di blackout di grandi dimensioni. Ad una centrale elettriche andata improvvisamente in avaria, il sistema deve reagire riequilibrando la produzione, cosa che risulterebbe essere impossibile nei sistemi altamente concentrati.
La storia dei blackout dovrebbe aver insegnato qualcosa.
Il nove novembre 1965 un contatto nella centrale del Niagara Falls mandò in tilt tutta la centrale. Nel giro di soli dodici minuti primi il blackout si estese dapprima nello stato di New York, quindi nel Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire e due province canadesi: furono interessati oltre 200,000 kilometri quadrati densamente popolati.
Il 14 luglio 1977 un fulmine disattivò una centrale di trasformazione a New York, generando una reazione a catena di chiusure. La città restò al buio: la polizia arresto oltre quattromila persone che si stavano dedicando al saccheggio.
Il 28 settembre 2003 alle ore 3:01 un albero troppo vecchio per stare in piedi da solo crollò sulla linea ad altissima tensione Lavorgo-Mettlen, interrompendo l’importazione di energia dalla Svizzera all’Italia. Nel breve volgere di qualche minuto tutta l’Italia, Sicilia compresa, restò al buio. Treni ed ascensori fermi, ospedali senza corrente: il chaos generalizzato.
«According to an internal report by Germany’s civil protection agency, prolonged power shortages would disrupt the supply of vital goods in the country»
«The country lacks the necessary contigency plans for such an event»
«Prolonged, large-scale power shortages in Germany would cause a significant lack supplies, which could have “catastrophic” effects on the country»
«The alarm was raised by Germany’s Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) in an internal position paper»
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Cerchiamo di ragionare.
Un corto circuito banale a Niagara Falls ha indotto un blackout immane in quasi tutto il nordest americano. Un albero caduto su di un elettrodotto ha lasciato per due giorni l’Italia senza corrente.
Ma cosa mai succederebbe se i guasti fossero plurimi e simultanei?
Ma cosa mai potrebbe succedere se le interruzioni delle linee fossero artatamente indotte, mettiamo un sabotaggio ben organizzato?
E cosa mai potrebbe accadere in coso di un conflitto? Forse che i potenziali nemici non siano a conoscenza di questi colli di bottiglia? Sarebbero sufficienti sette cruise di piccola potenza per bloccare una intera nazione.
According to an internal report by Germany’s civil protection agency, prolonged power shortages would disrupt the supply of vital goods in the country. The country lacks the necessary contigency plans for such an event.
Prolonged, large-scale power shortages in Germany would cause a significant lack supplies, which could have “catastrophic” effects on the country.
In the research paper, the BBK reportedly wrote that a big power failure would result in a “significant distribution problem for important, sometimes vital goods” in almost all areas of society.
Electricity supply safe, but citizens and services unprepared
According to the report, this is also due to a lack of contingency plans for the distribution of fuel, food and medicines, particularly at the state and local level.
“Most of the gas stations wouldn’t provide any fuel. In a matter of hours, telephones and the internet could no longer be used. One would no longer be able to get a hold of any cash,” says the BBK’s paper.
Medical supplies could also only be provided for a short period of time, while critical infrastructure like the supply of energy, food and water, transport, telecommunications and finance would be affected.
But despite it ringing the alarm bell, the BBK believes such a catastrophic scenario in Germany isn’t imminent.
In fact, in its report the agency writes that the country’s electricity supply is “very safe,” and praised recent measures that improved IT security and increased the number of emergency power generators.
The BBK’s website advises that in case of a prolonged power shortage, citizens should wear warm clothes and light a fire with a supply of coal or wood to make up for the lack of heating.
It also advises to keep a stock of candles and flashlights, to prepare meals on a camping stove, and to have a sufficient reserve of cash in the house in case ATMs stop working due to the power failure.
Giorni fa tre navi ukraine si sono avvicinate alle acque territoriali russe al largo di Kerc: i russi le hanno cannoneggiate e quindi catturate.
È scoppiato il finimondo.
Mr Macron e Frau Merkel avrebbero voluto invadere immediatamente la Russia, poi hanno dovuto desistere non disponendo di esercito. Si sono limitati a parole grevi, minacciando l’ulteriore inasprimento delle sanzioni, salvo restando che la Russia continui a far arrivare in Europa il gas naturale.
Il commento migliore è stato quello del presidente Trump.
«President Trump said Wednesday that he “didn’t like” Russia’s capture of three Ukraine naval vessels and called on European leaders to “get involved” — but stopped short of leveling any criticism at Vladimir Putin for ratcheting up tensions in the region»
«We’re going to see, we’re going to find out what happened. I didn’t like the incident and we’re getting a report on what’s going on»
«”Angela, let’s get involved Angela!” he added, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exaggerating the pronunciation of her first name»
«The president said that France should also get involved, but didn’t elaborate on what actions the two countries»
«There was a question — was a warning given? Did they [the Ukranian vessels] let them know they’re coming through? Because they have a system I guess. It’s been working»
* * * * * * *
«Ci sarebbe una domanda da porsi. È stato dato un avvertimento? L’Ukraina aveva fatto sapere ai russi che stanno arrivando? Perché hanno un sistema, credo. »
Questo è il vero quesito da porsi.
L’Ukraina aveva o meno avvisato i russi che delle sue navi da guerra, in realtà tre vecchie carrette, si sarebbero avvicinate a Kerc?
I soliti malpensanti potrebbero anche malignare che tutto ciò che è successo sia stato fatto a posta al solo fine di impedire oppure rendere più difficile il summit in programma tra Mr Trump e Mr Putin.
President Trump said Wednesday that he “didn’t like” Russia’s capture of three Ukraine naval vessels and called on European leaders to “get involved” — but stopped short of leveling any criticism at Vladimir Putin for ratcheting up tensions in the region.
“We’re going to see, we’re going to find out what happened. I didn’t like the incident and we’re getting a report on what’s going on,” Trump told The Post during a 36-minute Oval Office interview.
”Angela, let’s get involved Angela!” he added, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exaggerating the pronunciation of her first name.
The president said that France should also get involved, but didn’t elaborate on what actions the two countries — which have both criticized Russia, as has UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — should take.
“It shouldn’t happen, it shouldn’t happen,” Trump said.
But at the same time he noted: “There was a question — was a warning given? Did they [the Ukranian vessels] let them know they’re coming through? Because they have a system I guess. It’s been working.”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Wednesday it still expects a meeting between Putin and Trump to go ahead as planned despite a suggestion from the president that it could be canceled.
Trump said Tuesday that he may cancel the sit-down with Putin at the G-20 meeting in Argentina following Russia’s seizure of the three Ukrainian ships last weekend.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the meeting was on and that Russia has not received “any other information from our US counterparts.”
Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, noted that the meeting, which is set for Saturday, has been prepared through official channels and Moscow expects Washington to notify it of any changes in the same way.
“This meeting is necessary for both sides,” Ushakov said. “It’s important in view of the developing situation in the world.”
The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine burst into the open on Sunday, when Russian border guards fired on three Ukrainian vessels and seized the ships and the crew.
Trump said he would be receiving a “full report” from his national security team on Russia’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea, and would decide afterward.
«It is the US mid-term elections which will decide whether the war continues in Syria or move on to another battle field.»
Inutile nascondersi dietro un dito ed essere troppo ipocriti: le guerre in Medio Oriente stanno facendo un gran comodo a tutti. Il problema non è se proseguirle o meno: è dove spostarle, nel caso che quel teatro geopolitico non fosse più a lungo idoneo. In questo mondo ipocrita, quelli che più gridano invocando la pace sono poi quelli che fomentano ogni sorta di conflitti: gli costruiscono artatamente, li finanziano e provvedono di mezzi, impedendo però che la loro parte abbia la vittoria, che farebbe terminare i conflitti.
«The current situation – extending from the Russian response to the destruction of its Ilyuchin-20 to the US mid-term elections on 6 November – is uncertain»
«All the protagonists of the war in Syria are waiting to see whether the White House will be able to pursue its policy of breaking away from the current international order, or if Congress will become the opposition and immediately trigger the process for the destitution of President Trump»
«The affair of the destruction of the Ilyuchin-20 on 17 September 2018 handed Russia the occasion to terminate this extended war and come to an agreement with the White House to stand against other aggressors. This is a rerun, on a smaller scale, of the Russian / US reaction to the Suez crisis of 1956.»
«Moscow has not only given the Syrian Arab Army anti-aircraft missiles (S-300’s), but has also deployed an entire integrated surveillance system. As soon as this system is operational, and Syrian officers have been trained to use it, which will take three months at the most, it will be impossible for Western armies to over-fly the country without permission from Damascus»
* * *
Né si pensi che le nazioni siano unite: governi contro parlamenti, industriali contro i governi, finanza quanto mai spigliata nel posizionarsi e tra lucro dagli eventi bellici.
«Consequently, whether they admit it or not, they hope they will all be killed in Syria»
«Tel-Aviv, Paris and Ankara still hope that President Trump will lose the elections of 6 November and will be fired. They are therefore awaiting the results of this fateful election before they decide.»
«If it happens that Donald Trump should win the mid-term elections in Congress, another question will arise. If the Western powers give up on the battle in Syria, where will they go to continue their endless war? This is indeed a reality on which all experts agree – the Western ruling class has become so swamped in bad blood and hubris that it is unable to accept the idea of being geared back behind the new Asian powers.»
* * *
È quella che SS Papa Franceco definì essere la ‘terza guerra mondiale’, combattuta per il momento ancora a livello locoregionale e con armi convenzionali, ma che in un amen potrebbe deflagrare.
The current situation – extending from the Russian response to the destruction of its Ilyuchin-20 to the US mid-term elections on 6 November – is uncertain. All the protagonists of the war in Syria are waiting to see whether the White House will be able to pursue its policy of breaking away from the current international order, or if Congress will become the opposition and immediately trigger the process for the destitution of President Trump.
The origins of the war
It has become clear that the initial project by the United States, the United Kingdom, Israël, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will not be realised. The same goes for France and Turkey, two powers that entered the war against Syria somewhat later.
What we need to remember is not the way in which we were informed about the start of the events, but what we have discovered about them since. The demonstrations in Deraa were presented as a « spontaneous revolt » against « dictatorial repression », but we now know that they had been in preparation for a long time.
We also need to free ourselves of the illusion that all the members of a Coalition, united in order to achieve the same goal, share the same strategy. Whatever the influence of one or the other, each State conserves its own history, its own interests and its own war objectives.
The United States pursued the strategy of Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, which was the destruction of the State structures in the Greater Middle East. For this they relied upon the United Kingdom, which implemented Tony Blair’s strategy aimed at placing the Muslim Brotherhood in power throughout the region. And also on Israël, which rebooted the strategy of Oded Yinon and David Wurmser for regional domination. The necessary weapons were stored in advance by Saudi Arabia in the Omar mosque. Qatar stepped in by inventing the story about the children whose nails were torn out.
At that time, Saudi Arabia was not seeking to impose a new form of politics on Syria, nor even to overthrow its government. Riyadh’s intention was exclusively to prevent a non-Sunni from becoming President. By some strange historical evolution, the Wahhabites, who, two centuries ago, considered both Sunnis and Chiites as heretics and called for their extermination if they failed to repent, are today presenting themselves as the defenders of the Sunnis and the killers of the Chiites.
As for the tiny emirate of Qatar, it was exacting its revenge after the interruption of its gas pipeline in Syria.
France, which should have taken part in the conspiracy by virtue of the Lancaster House agreements, was sidelined because of its unexpected initiatives in Libya. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé, attempted to push France into rejoining the conspirators, but the ambassador in Damascus, Eric Chevallier, who could see the distortion of facts on the ground, resisted as far as humanly possible.
When France was once again admitted to the group conspiracy, it continued its 1915 objective of the colonisation of Syria, pursuing the Sykes-Picot-Sazonov agreements. Just as the French mandate over Syria was considered to be transitory compared with the lasting colonisation of Algeria, it is considered, in the 21st century, as secondary to control of the Sahel. Besides which, while attempting to realise its old engagement, Paris pushed for the creation of a national home for the Kurds, on the model used by the British in 1917 for the Jews in Palestine. In order to do so, it allied itself with Turkey which, in the name of Atatürk’s « national oath », invaded the North of Syria in order to create a State to which the Turkish Kurds could be expelled.
While the war objectives of these first four aggressors are mutually compatible, those of the latter two are not compatible with the others.
Besides which, France, the United Kingdom and Turkey are three old colonial powers. All three are now trying to impose their power over the same throne. The war against Syria has thus reactivated their old rivalries.
The Daesh episode within the war against Syria and Iraq
At the end of 2013, the Pentagon revised its plans within the framework of the Cebrowski strategy. It modified its initial plans, as revealed by Ralph Peters, and substituted the plan by Robin Wright for the creation of a « Sunnistan » straddling Syria and Iraq.
However, in September 2015, the deployment of the Russian army in Syria, as an obstacle to the creation of « Sunnistan » by Daesh, ruined the projects of the six principal partners in the war.
The three years of war that followed had other objectives – on the one hand, to create a new state straddling Iraq and Syria within the framework of the Cebrowski strategy, and, on the other, to use Daesh to cut the Silk Road that Xi Jinping’s China were seeking to reactivate – thus maintaining continental domination over the « Western » part.
The Syrian / Russian victory and the reversal of the United States
The affair of the destruction of the Ilyuchin-20 on 17 September 2018 handed Russia the occasion to terminate this extended war and come to an agreement with the White House to stand against other aggressors. This is a rerun, on a smaller scale, of the Russian / US reaction to the Suez crisis of 1956.
Moscow has not only given the Syrian Arab Army anti-aircraft missiles (S-300’s), but has also deployed an entire integrated surveillance system. As soon as this system is operational, and Syrian officers have been trained to use it, which will take three months at the most, it will be impossible for Western armies to over-fly the country without permission from Damascus.
President Trump announced in advance that he intends to withdraw US troops from Syria. He went back on this decision under pressure from the Pentagon, then agreed with his general officers to maintain pressure on Damascus as long as the United States were excluded from the peace negotiations in Sotchi. The deployment of the Russian armies – for which the White House had probably given its agreement – provided President Trump with the occasion of forcing the Pentagon to back off. It would have to withdraw its troops, but it could maintain the presence of its mercenaries (as it happens, these would be the Kurds and Arabs from the Democratic Forces).
The Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Walid el-Mouallem, speaking before the General Assembly of the UNO, demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the foreign forces of occupation, US, French and Turkish.
If the United States leave, then the French and Turkish troops will be unable to stay. The Israëlis would no longer be able to overfly and bomb the country. The British have already left.
However, Tel-Aviv, Paris and Ankara still hope that President Trump will lose the elections of 6 November and will be fired. They are therefore awaiting the results of this fateful election before they decide.
If it happens that Donald Trump should win the mid-term elections in Congress, another question will arise. If the Western powers give up on the battle in Syria, where will they go to continue their endless war? This is indeed a reality on which all experts agree – the Western ruling class has become so swamped in bad blood and hubris that it is unable to accept the idea of being geared back behind the new Asian powers.
Wisdom would dictate that once the war is lost, the aggressors should withdraw. But the intellectual disposition of the West prevents them from doing so. The war here will cease only when they find a new bone to gnaw on.
Only the United Kingdom has given its response any thought. It is clear by now that although London maintains its diplomatic pressure on Syria via the Small Group, its attention is already focused on the revival of the « Grand Game » which saw the Crown confront the Tsar throughout all of the 19th century. After having invented the Skripal affair, and on the model of the « Zinoviev Letter », London has just ’caught’ the Russian Exterior Intelligence Services red-handed in their attempt to discover what is being plotted against them by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC).
This geopolitical doctrine is independent of the events which serve as its pretext. The « Grand Game » was the strategy of the British Empire. Its resumption by the current United Kingdom is the consequence of Brexit and the policy of « Global Britain ». Just as in the 19th century, this anti-Russian configuration will lead in time to an exacerbated rivalry between London and Paris. On the contrary, should Theresa May fail, along with the questions concerning Brexit and the maintenance of the United Kingdom in the European Union, all these projections will be cancelled.
If France is now studying the possibility of leaving the Middle East in order to concentrate on the Sahel, the position of the United States is a lot more problematic. Since 9/11, the Pentagon has enjoyed a certain autonomy. The ten combat Commanders of the armed forces no longer receive orders from the president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, but only from the Secretary of Defense.
With time, they have become the veritable « viceroys » of the « American Empire » – a function which they do not wish to see reduced by President Trump. Some of them, like the Commander for South America (SouthCom), intend to continue with the Cebrowski strategy, despite the admonitions of the White House.
So there remains much uncertainty. The only positive step taken concerns Daesh – for three years, the Western powers pretended to be fighting this terrorist organisation, while at the same time supplying them with weapons. Today, Donald Trump has ordered the cessation of this experience of an explicitly terrorist state, the Caliphate, and the Syrian and Russian armies have pushed the jihadists back. The Westerners have no desire to see their friends, the « moderate rebels », now qualified as « terrorists », turn up in their countries en masse. Consequently, whether they admit it or not, they hope they will all be killed in Syria.
It is the US mid-term elections which will decide whether the war continues in Syria or move on to another battle field.
«Without firing any shots, aircraft carriers would help rebuild regional order with China in a leading position.»
Il piano strategico navale cinese potrebbe essere facilmente comprensibile considerando i loro programmi cantieristici. Infatti, tra progettazione, costruzione ed armamento delle moderne navi da guerra, massimamente le portaerei, intercorrono tra gli otto ed i dodici anni di tempo. Questo fattore implica per necessità la esigenza di avere un ben preciso progetto strategico nella mente.
«China’s next aircraft carrier is likely to boast a lot more combat power.
According to the aforementioned SCMP article, Chinese engineers believe they solved this problem by developing an integrated propulsion system (IPS), which would generate enough power to use EMALS. “The obstacle … was whether a conventionally powered carrier would be able to support EMALS,” a source whom SCMP said was close the PLA’s equipment department told the paper. “Now that problem has been solved.”
China’s next aircraft carrier is likely to boast a lot more combat power.
On June 20, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the firm that makes China’s aircraft carriers, posted an image on its social media accounts showing three aircraft carriers. On the right and left were the Liaoning—China’s first carrier, which was built by Ukraine—as well as China’s first domestically-built carrier.
Unlike those carriers, which have a ski-jump launch systems, the mysterious third carrier in the middle of the image had a flat flight deck with three catapult-like devices. This suggests it relies on a catapult launch system.
Nonetheless, Chinese state-run media outlets, including the People’s Liberation Army Daily (the military’s newspaper), ran stories about the photo. This suggests that Beijing’s third carrier is almost certain to have a catapult launch system.
If China’s third carrier uses a catapult launch system—making it a Catapult Assisted Take-Off, Barrier Assisted Recovery (CATOBAR) carrier— it will boast far more combat power than Beijing’s current vessels. This type of launch system allows the carrier to launch and recover larger and much heavier aircraft.»
«The US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is regarded as the world’s most-advanced warship — but for how much longer?
A story published Thursday on the English website of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said the country’s top shipbuilding company is working on an aircraft carrier with an electromagnetic catapult aircraft launch system, something featured exclusively aboard the US Navy’s most expensive carrier ever, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
Aircraft launched by electromagnetic catapults can get airborne quicker and with greater quantities of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over planes launched by standard steam catapult.
For decades, US carriers have used steam catapult systems, where steam explodes into a piston attached to the plane’s landing gear, powering it off the deck. Besides the Ford, the other 10 carriers in the US fleet use steam catapults.
Currently, Chinese carriers launch planes using a use a different, less advanced system, known as the ski-jump, meaning planes rely on their own power when lifting off.»
«China is developing a new fighter jet for aircraft carriers to replace its J-15s after a series of mechanical failures and crashes, as it tries to build up a blue-water navy that can operate globally, military experts and sources said.
The J-15 was based on a prototype of the fourth-generation Russian Sukhoi Su-33 twin-engined air superiority fighter, a design that is more than 30 years old. It was developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, a unit of state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
With a maximum take-off weight of 33 tonnes, the aircraft is the heaviest active carrier-based fighter jet in the world, used on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.»
«Beijing is expected to use its first home-produced nuclear-powered icebreaker to develop its own nuclear reactors for future aircraft carriers, and its relationship with Russia may help its progress, military experts have said. ….
On June 8, China and Russia signed a deal worth more than 100 billion yuan (US$15 billion) to build four Russian reactor units during a ceremony in Beijing attended by presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, in what was the biggest ever nuclear pact between the two countries.»
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Cerchiamo di fare il punto della situazione.
– Ad oggi la principale preoccupazione cinese consiste nel rendere saldo il controllo sul Mare Cinese del Sud, per evidenti motivi di difesa. In questa ottica, le portaerei di attacco servirebbero ben poco.
– In un futuro prossimo, l’obbiettivo strategico è il controllo dell’Oceano Indiano. Per questo oceano passano ogni anno quasi quattro trilioni di dollari di merci cinesi: è una linea di comunicazione marittima di somma importanza per la Cina. In questo scacchiere allora saranno necessarie le portaerei di attacco, dotate anche di aerei ben più efficienti dell’attuale J-15. Ma questo obbiettivo sarebbe irraggiungibile senza aver sviluppato un efficiente sistema di catapulte per il lancio degli aerei e di adeguati reattori atomici.
– Lo sviluppo di una flotta oceanica presuppone però il contemporaneo progetto di tutte le navi a corollario della portaerei, nonché dei sistemi di comunicazione e sorveglianza dallo spazio.
– Nel prossimo decennio la Cina sembrerebbe non essere interessata al controllo globale dei mari. Di conseguenza, i paragoni con la flotta americana sarebbero impropri, avendo queste due forze navali obbiettivi differenti.
Rather than confronting other major navies, these big new ships will go to work boosting China’s prestige.
The sea trials of China’s first domestically-constructed aircraft carrier have sparked a fresh debate about Chinese naval power. Some have argued that the carriers, while still vulnerable in a clash of major powers, would cement Chinese leadership if the United States withdraws from the region. Others have pointed to growing Chinese amphibious capabilities as being the naval point to watch.
It would be better to expect that China’s new aircraft-carrying fleet need not await a major conflict to be valuable – indeed it may be most valuable in the absence of war. Rather than confronting other major navies, these big new ships will go to work instead boosting China’s prestige and standing in the Indo-Pacific regional order. This may happen in two ways: as the peacetime deployment of such a fleet lets China, without direct conflict, dilute U.S. influence in the region; and as the signals sent by aircraft carriers allow a clean break in regional perceptions of China’s status.
China’s 2015 Defense White Paper embraced a combination of “near seas defense” and “far seas protection,” likely giving China by 2030 a “limited expeditionary” capability encompassing natural disasters, evacuations, counterterrorism, and the security of sea lanes. As a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) officer stated: “The second carrier will mainly do what a genuine aircraft carrier is supposed to do: running combat patrols and delivering humanitarian aid.” The key is that the humanitarian role is much more than mere rhetoric and deserves close attention.
Humanitarian activities are important because China, along with all the major states of the region, is competing for relative status. This ranking in the regional order is adjusted through competition, including contestation in regional institutions, assertion of responsibilities, and, if not armed conflict, then potentially diplomatic coercion and the threat of force. This process is important because it lets states establish common beliefs about each other’s rights, responsibilities, and the hierarchy of deferense. Using naval power for humanitarian assistance is ideal for this, because it lets states demonstrate raw strength, establish practical international links, and show off moral leadership.
A major instance of this status-building in action was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which was met by a multinational relief effort led by the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. Scholars such as Robert Ross argue that the disaster helped set off the popular mood in China in favor of an aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, Andrew Erickson and A.R. Wilson see the incident as a key turning point in the Chinese leadership’s assessment of aircraft carriers’ value. They have pointed to Chinese military publications enviously describing Japan as a “great power of disaster relief,” while the political implications of the disaster response showed the importance of navies not just in conflict, but in “national construction, disaster relief, and rebuilding.”
Beijing is likely to see humanitarian operations in a ruthlessly pragmatic light for at least three reasons. First, humanitarian operations reinforce China’s regional status claims because they are an excellent demonstration of real operational capability. As an adjunct to this, as the United States, Japan, and Australia have found, humanitarian assistance is an excellent avenue for “defense diplomacy.” The need to prepare for such contingencies provides a versatile pretext for gaining access and bilateral cooperation with local partners, irrespective of traditional alliances, while a track record of humanitarian assistance can also justify establishing access rights or even bases overseas.
Second, humanitarian assistance yields quantifiable soft-power dividends. Pew Research Center figures show a measurable improvement in attitudes toward the United States after natural disasters such the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Similarly, Japan gained diplomatic kudos in ASEAN after it made its largest postwar naval deployment after the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines, while China suffered media criticism for its meager donation.
A third aspect of humanitarian assistance of specific importance to China is the scope for expeditionary naval forces to assist in the evacuation of Chinese nationals from crises abroad. This has long been seen as a key point on which Beijing demonstrates the legitimacy of the Communist Party regime. One study has noted that while there would be practical benefits to air cover, Beijing is also keenly aware of the diplomatic potential of stationing a carrier group near a country where Chinese citizens are under threat.
These strategic motivations indicate the way humanitarian assistance by a rising power can erode the role of established actors, and allow China increased status in the regional order. On the other hand, it will take sustained effort, ongoing funding streams, and the diversion of considerable technical and professional expertise to develop a fully operational carrier force.
Additional factors might for Beijing justify the immense expense – estimated at around $10 billion – of constructing a carrier group.
One of these is the fact that the very expense of aircraft carriers reflects makes them a form of conspicuous consumption. This status symbol argument holds that aircraft carrier construction, like China’s space program and hosting of the Olympic Games, shows off not only a wealthy country, but one with leading technical and organizational capacities.
In addition to this, there is growing research in international relations scholarly circles about the importance of sending clear and dramatic messages in order to boost status. Unlike other status symbols, aircraft carrier deployments carry greater potential to shift observers’ attitudes. As Jonathan Renshon argues, events that are highly visible to all, that are relevant enough to attract the concern of decision-makers, and that convey unambiguous information, are more likely to shift established beliefs about national status. Aircraft carriers are such a widely accepted symbol that they generate immediate mutual awareness – if Beijing deploys one overseas, it can expect that not only will everyone pay attention, but everyone will understand the kind of power being displayed.
The implication is that we could expect Chinese aircraft carriers to appear as soon as possible in nontraditional security roles around the region. This could still be compatible with Beijing reducing expenses by stretching the carrier construction program out to 2050 or beyond. The big unknown is how operational the carrier (or indeed, large amphibious ship) will be, as its role may well be largely symbolic at first. The key is to be aware that the aircraft carrier is there to construct the image that China is a major power. Without firing any shots, aircraft carriers would help rebuild regional order with China in a leading position.
È dal 2014 che la Cina ha costruito su microscopici isolotti del Mare Cinese del Sud dapprima delle isole artificiali, quindi basi aeronavali militari. Sono basi militari fisse e quindi vulnerabili ad un attacco aereo mirato, ma sono molte e, a quanto sembrerebbe, ottimamente armate. Corrono anche voci non verificate ed inverificabili che vi siano piazzati sistemi missilistici anti-nave, antiaerei ed anti-missile di fabbricazione russa. Si parlerebbe di sistemi S-400.
Di fatto, il Mar Cinese del Sud è ora sotto controllo cinese: quello che in passato era un lago americano adesso è loro interdetto. L’unico modo noto per riprendere il controllo di quel mare sarebbe la distruzione di quelle basi, ma la posta non vale la candela.
Se è vero che le flotte dotate di portaerei abbiano una grande potenza di fuoco, è altrettanto vero come negli ultimi lustri siano stati sviluppati missili ipersonici antinave le abbiano rese particolarmente vulnerabili.
Mentre uno di questi missili ha un costo che si aggirerebbe attorno ai 50,000 Usd, una portaerei completamente armata sfiora i dieci miliardi. In altri termini, i rapporti dei costi fanno aggio sui rapporti di fuoco.
La strategia cinese prevede sviluppi lenti ma con passi dai quali non si torna indietro.
Se è vero che la Cina non ha ancora portaerei di assalto, sarebbe altrettanto vero che al momento una simile tipologia di nave sarebbe inutile. Ma nel futuro questo concetto potrebbe decadere.
«Beijing claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which carries around $3.4 trillion worth of global trade each year»
«The Pentagon sounded a warning over China’s plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea»
«China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute»
«The China Securities Journal — a Chinese state-run financial newspaper — said in 2016 that China could build as many as 20 floating nuclear plants to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post reported last year»
«Several Chinese state-run companies last year established a joint venture that aims to strengthen China’s nuclear power capabilities in line with its ambitions to “become a strong maritime power,”»
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Sarebbero davvero molte le considerazioni di interesse, ma alcune sembrerebbero avere maggior peso.
La prima grande evidenza è quanto inutili ed impotenti siano i tribunali internazionali che hanno sanzionato la Cina per aver costruito basi militari in acque che i cinesi reputano essere loro mentre gli occidentali ritengono essere internazionali. Sarebbe del tutto inutile, e financo controproducente, continuare a mantenerli con le attuali strutture: l’era in cui il mondo era un feudo americano è finita.
La seconda grande evidenza è la drammatica carenza di visione strategica dimostrata dall’occidente negli ultimi decenni. Una totale mancanza di Realpolitik. L’unico deterrente sarebbe stato il posizionamento avanzato di armamenti atomici americani. Sarebbe ben lecito domandarsi per quali motivi gli americani non abbia costruiti anche essi isole artificiali armate e non vi abbiano posizionato missili di attacco e sistemi di missili anti-missili.
Alla fine il problema è quello che si conosce da oltre quattromila anni di storia: senza equilibri di forze alla fine una parte prende il sopravvento.
Ci si ricordi la battaglia di Qadeš (Kadesh): nel 1275 a.C. gli ittiti affrontarono gli egiziani. Disponiamo sia dei documenti ittiti sia di quelli egiziani.
Se sicuramente il Faraone Ramses II combatté da prode, altrettanto sicuramente dopo la battaglia dovette ritirarsi a spron battuto nei suoi confini fortificati ed accettare quello che è il primo trattato di pace internazionale documentato da ambo le parti contrapposte. Gli ittiti di Re Muwattalli II distrussero metà dell’esercito egiziano ed espansero il loro impero fino ad Upi.
Ramses II organizzò una intensa opera di propaganda che lo avrebbe voluto vincitore: la impose come versione ufficiale, ma sta di fatto che aveva perso il controllo del Medio Oriente.
– Pentagon flags report on floating nuclear power plants
– China still building military facilities in Spratlys: Pentagon
The Pentagon sounded a warning over China’s plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea, part of an annual report assessing the nation’s military strength.
“China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute,” the Pentagon said in its 2018 report to Congress titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” “China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020.”
The China Securities Journal — a Chinese state-run financial newspaper — said in 2016 that China could build as many as 20 floating nuclear plants to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post reported last year. Several Chinese state-run companies last year established a joint venture that aims to strengthen China’s nuclear power capabilities in line with its ambitions to “become a strong maritime power,” the Post said, citing a statement released by the venture.
Beijing claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which carries around $3.4 trillion worth of global trade each year. Five other countries — including the Philippines and Vietnam — also have claims in the waters, which have led to clashes over fishing rights and energy exploration.
U.S.-China military ties have deteriorated of late, with the Trump administration in May revoking an invitation for Beijing to join in Pacific naval exercises due to its activities in disputed parts of the sea. China has reclaimed 3,200 of acres of land in the Spratly Island chain and added with ports, runways and other military infrastructure.
“The best-case scenario for the region would be China reconsidering the electricity supply source for its controlled islands, or at least a delay in the deployment of the fleet,” given potential safety challenges and security risks from pirates or regional terror groups, Viet Phuong Nguyen, a nuclear researcher at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, wrote in the Diplomat website that month.
The report also found:
– China’s military has expanded bomber operations and was “likely training for strikes” against the U.S. and its allies
– China was willing to employ coercive measures and mitigate opposition of other countries, including the unsuccessful use of economic and diplomatic pressure to get South Korea to reconsider the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system
– China uses the Belt and Road Initiative to develop strong ties with other countries to better align their interests and deter criticism
– The People’s Liberation Army Navy, China Coast Guard and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia now form the largest maritime force in the Indo-Pacific region The three services sometimes conduct coordinated patrols, including planting a flag on Sandy Cay, a sandbar within 12 nautical miles of the Subi and Thitu features, “possibly in response to Manila’s reported plans to upgrade its runway on Thitu Island”
– China probably used coercion to pressure Vietnam to suspend joint Vietnam-Spain drilling operations in a disputed oil block in the South China Sea last year
– Computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted by China-based intrusions last year
– The PLA Air Force significantly increased Taiwan circumnavigations, passing through the Miyako Strait and Bashi Channel in the same mission
– China’s military-controlled coast guard ships sailed on average once every 10 days within 12 nautical miles of Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea.
Il The New York Times dedica un mastodontico articolo ai rapporti tra Cina a Sri Lanka: la sua lettura è parte integrante di questo articolo.
Questo articolo è stato espressamente citato da un editoriale di China Org, organo di stampa del Governo cinese.
«China will continue to work with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and continuously promote the pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives»
«A spokesperson in the Embassy said that China has always been pursuing a friendly policy toward Sri Lanka, firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country»
«continuously promote the pragmatic cooperations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives following the “golden rule” of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,”to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples,”»
«The spokesperson further said that the Embassy had noticed the recent New York Times’ article as well as the clarifications and responses by various parties from Sri Lanka, saying the article is full of political prejudice and completely inconsistent with the fact»
«The New York Times article published on June 25, accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes. It however has drawn flak from Sri Lankan leaders, who have stated that the article fell under the “fake news” category»
* * * * * * *
La presa di posizione del Governo cinese riassume in poche righe i concetti base che ispirano la sua politica estera.
– “pragmatic cooperation“: nei rapporti internazionali bilaterali la Cina promuove una cooperazione sociale ed economica al di fuori di ogni possibile schema mentale ideologico o preconcetto. I partner si accettano senza tentativo alcuno di modificarne tradizioni e comportamenti. Cooperazione implica un reciproco guadagno da questo rapporto: “to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples …. shared benefits“.
– “firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country“. Per meglio chiarire il concetto, Cina Org ricorda il rispetto della indipendenza, della sovranità, della integrità territoriale, ed infine la assoluta non interferenza degli affari interni dei paesi. In altri termini, l’esatto opposto del modo di pensare e comportarsi degli occidentali ed in particolar modo degli europei.
– “accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes“. China Org riporta in modo molto diplomatico come questa notizia sia stata smentita dallo Sri Lankan. Non avendo detto nulla la China, si potrebbe dedurre che se le cose evolvessero, la essa non si opporrebbe.
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Larga quota delle merci cinesi attraversano lo Stretto di Malacca e si dirigono in gran parte sulla rotta per Suez. È semplicemente evidente come il controllo dello spazio marittimo del nord Oceano Indiano sia essenziale per i cinesi.
Una ultima precisazione a nostro parere importante.
L’articolo edito dal The New York Times è mastodontico, inusitatamente lungo e dettagliato: da al problema del dominio dell’Oceano Indiano la corretta importanza strategica. Dopo il Mare Cinese Meridionale gli Stati Uniti corrono il serio rischio di perdere anche il controlla navale dell’Oceano Indiano.
Tuttavia, a nostro sommesso parere, l’articolo del NYT non riporta quella che è l’attuale posizione politica e militare degli Stati Uniti, bensì cosa e come ne pensano i liberal democratici. Opinione che deve essere valutata con cura, ma che non è al momento al governo dell’America.
China will continue to work with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and continuously promote the pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said in a statement Saturday.
A spokesperson in the Embassy said that China has always been pursuing a friendly policy toward Sri Lanka, firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country.
“Despite any interference from a third party, China would like to work together with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and concentrate unwaveringly on our fixed goals, continuously promote the pragmatic cooperations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives following the “golden rule” of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson further said that the Embassy had noticed the recent New York Times’ article as well as the clarifications and responses by various parties from Sri Lanka, saying the article is full of political prejudice and completely inconsistent with the fact.
The New York Times article published on June 25, accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes. It however has drawn flak from Sri Lankan leaders, who have stated that the article fell under the “fake news” category.
HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka — Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes.
Yes, though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work. Yes, though other frequent lenders like India had refused. Yes, though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa.
Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012.
The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival, India, and a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.
The case is one of the most vivid examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world — and of its willingness to play hardball to collect.
The debt deal also intensified some of the harshest accusations about President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative: that the global investment and lending program amounts to a debt trap for vulnerable countries around the world, fueling corruption and autocratic behavior in struggling democracies.
Months of interviews with Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Western officials and analysis of documents and agreements stemming from the port project present a stark illustration of how China and the companies under its control ensured their interests in a small country hungry for financing.
During the 2015 Sri Lankan elections, large payments from the Chinese port construction fund flowed directly to campaign aides and activities for Mr. Rajapaksa, who had agreed to Chinese terms at every turn and was seen as an important ally in China’s efforts to tilt influence away from India in South Asia. The payments were confirmed by documents and cash checks detailed in a government investigation seen by The New York Times.
Though Chinese officials and analysts have insisted that China’s interest in the Hambantota port is purely commercial, Sri Lankan officials said that from the start, the intelligence and strategic possibilities of the port’s location were part of the negotiations.
Initially moderate terms for lending on the port project became more onerous as Sri Lankan officials asked to renegotiate the timeline and add more financing. And as Sri Lankan officials became desperate to get the debt off their books in recent years, the Chinese demands centered on handing over equity in the port rather than allowing any easing of terms.
Though the deal erased roughly $1 billion in debt for the port project, Sri Lanka is now in more debt to China than ever, as other loans have continued and rates remain much higher than from other international lenders.
Mr. Rajapaksa and his aides did not respond to multiple requests for comment, made over several months, for this article. Officials for China Harbor also would not comment.
Estimates by the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry paint a bleak picture: This year, the government is expected to generate $14.8 billion in revenue, but its scheduled debt repayments, to an array of lenders around the world, come to $12.3 billion.
“John Adams said infamously that a way to subjugate a country is through either the sword or debt. China has chosen the latter,” said Brahma Chellaney, an analyst who often advises the Indian government and is affiliated with the Center for Policy Research, a think tank in New Delhi.
Indian officials, in particular, fear that Sri Lanka is struggling so much that the Chinese government may be able to dangle debt relief in exchange for its military’s use of assets like the Hambantota port — though the final lease agreement forbids military activity there without Sri Lanka’s invitation.
“The only way to justify the investment in Hambantota is from a national security standpoint — that they will bring the People’s Liberation Army in,” said Shivshankar Menon, who served as India’s foreign secretary and then its national security adviser as the Hambantota port was being built.
An Engaged Ally
The relationship between China and Sri Lanka had long been amicable, with Sri Lanka an early recognizer of Mao’s Communist government after the Chinese Revolution. But it was during a more recent conflict — Sri Lanka’s brutal 26-year civil war with ethnic Tamil separatists — that China became indispensable.
Mr. Rajapaksa, who was elected in 2005, presided over the last years of the war, when Sri Lanka became increasingly isolated by accusations of human rights abuses. Under him, Sri Lanka relied heavily on China for economic support, military equipment and political cover at the United Nations to block potential sanctions.
The war ended in 2009, and as the country emerged from the chaos, Mr. Rajapaksa and his family consolidated their hold. At the height of Mr. Rajapaksa’s tenure, the president and his three brothers controlled many government ministries and around 80 percent of total government spending. Governments like China negotiated directly with them.
So when the president began calling for a vast new port development project at Hambantota, his sleepy home district, the few roadblocks in its way proved ineffective.
From the start, officials questioned the wisdom of a second major port, in a country a quarter the size of Britain and with a population of 22 million, when the main port in the capital was thriving and had room to expand. Feasibility studies commissioned by the government had starkly concluded that a port at Hambantota was not economically viable.
“They approached us for the port at the beginning, and Indian companies said no,” said Mr. Menon, the former Indian foreign secretary. “It was an economic dud then, and it’s an economic dud now.”
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority began devising what officials believed was a careful, economically sound plan in 2007, according to an official involved in the project. It called for a limited opening for business in 2010, and for revenue to be coming in before any major expansion.
The first major loan it took on the project came from the Chinese government’s Export-Import Bank, or Exim, for $307 million. But to obtain the loan, Sri Lanka was required to accept Beijing’s preferred company, China Harbor, as the port’s builder, according to a United States Embassy cable from the time, leaked to WikiLeaks.
That is a typical demand of China for its projects around the world, rather than allowing an open bidding process. Across the region, Beijing’s government is lending out billions of dollars, being repaid at a premium to hire Chinese companies and thousands of Chinese workers, according to officials across the region.
There were other strings attached to the loan, as well, in a sign that China saw strategic value in the Hambantota port from the beginning.
Nihal Rodrigo, a former Sri Lankan foreign secretary and ambassador to China, said that discussions with Chinese officials at the time made it clear that intelligence sharing was an integral, if not public, part of the deal. In an interview with The Times, Mr. Rodrigo characterized the Chinese line as, “We expect you to let us know who is coming and stopping here.”
In later years, Chinese officials and the China Harbor company went to great lengths to keep relations strong with Mr. Rajapaksa, who for years had faithfully acquiesced to such terms.
In the final months of Sri Lanka’s 2015 election, China’s ambassador broke with diplomatic norms and lobbied voters, even caddies at Colombo’s premier golf course, to support Mr. Rajapaksa over the opposition, which was threatening to tear up economic agreements with the Chinese government.
As the January election inched closer, large payments started to flow toward the president’s circle.
At least $7.6 million was dispensed from China Harbor’s account at Standard Chartered Bank to affiliates of Mr. Rajapaksa’s campaign, according to a document, seen by The Times, from an active internal government investigation. The document details China Harbor’s bank account number — ownership of which was verified — and intelligence gleaned from questioning of the people to whom the checks were made out.
With 10 days to go before polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in checks: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Mr. Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence.
Most of the payments were from a subaccount controlled by China Harbor, named “HPDP Phase 2,” shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project.
After nearly five years of helter-skelter expansion for China’s Belt and Road Initiative across the globe, Chinese officials are quietly trying to take stock of how many deals have been done and what the country’s financial exposure might be. There is no comprehensive picture of that yet, said one Chinese economic policymaker, who like many other officials would speak about Chinese policy only on the condition of anonymity.
Some Chinese officials have become concerned that the nearly institutional graft surrounding such projects represents a liability for China, and raises the bar needed for profitability. President Xi acknowledged the worry in a speech last year, saying, “We will also strengthen international cooperation on anticorruption in order to build the Belt and Road Initiative with integrity.”
In Bangladesh, for example, officials said in January that China Harbor would be banned from future contracts over accusations that the company attempted to bribe an official at the ministry of roads, stuffing $100,000 into a box of tea, government officials said in interviews. And China Harbor’s parent company, China Communications Construction Company, was banned for eight years in 2009 from bidding on World Bank projects because of corrupt practices in the Philippines.
Since the port seizure in Sri Lanka, Chinese officials have started suggesting that Belt and Road is not an open-ended government commitment to finance development across three continents.
“If we cannot manage the risk well, the Belt and Road projects cannot go far or well,” said Jin Qi, the chairwoman of the Silk Road Fund, a large state-owned investment fund, during the China Development Forum in late March.
In Sri Lanka’s case, port officials and Chinese analysts have also not given up the view that the Hambantota port could become profitable, or at least strengthen China’s trade capacity in the region.
Ray Ren, China Merchant Port’s representative in Sri Lanka and the head of the Hambantota port’s operations, insisted that “the location of Sri Lanka is ideal for international trade.” And he dismissed the negative feasibility studies, saying they were done many years ago when Hambantota was “a small fishing hamlet.”
Hu Shisheng, the director of South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that China clearly recognized the strategic value of the Hambantota port. But he added: “Once China wants to exert its geostrategic value, the strategic value of the port will be gone. Big countries cannot fight in Sri Lanka — it would be wiped out.”
Although the Hambantota port first opened in a limited way in 2010, before the Belt and Road Initiative was announced, the Chinese government quickly folded the project into the global program.
Shortly after the handover ceremony in Hambantota, China’s state news agency released a boastful video on Twitter, proclaiming the deal “another milestone along the path of #BeltandRoad.”
A Port to Nowhere
The seaport is not the only grand project built with Chinese loans in Hambantota, a sparsely populated area on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast that is still largely overrun by jungle.
Mr. Rajapaksa’s advisers had laid out a methodical approach to how the port might expand after opening, ensuring that some revenue would be coming in before taking on much more debt.
But in 2009, the president had grown impatient. His 65th birthday was approaching the following year, and to mark the occasion he wanted a grand opening at the Hambantota port — including the beginning of an ambitious expansion 10 years ahead of the Port Authority’s original timeline.
Chinese laborers began working day and night to get the port ready, officials said. But when workers dredged the land and then flooded it to create the basin of the port, they had not taken into account a large boulder that partly blocked the entrance, preventing the entry of large ships, like oil tankers, that the port’s business model relied on.
Ports Authority officials, unwilling to cross the president, quickly moved ahead anyway. The Hambantota port opened in an elaborate celebration on Nov. 18, 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa’s birthday. Then it sat waiting for business while the rock blocked it.
China Harbor blasted the boulder a year later, at a cost of $40 million, an exorbitant price that raised concerns among diplomats and government officials. Some openly speculated about whether the company was simply overcharging or the price tag included kickbacks to Mr. Rajapaksa.
By 2012, the port was struggling to attract ships — which preferred to berth nearby at the Colombo port — and construction costs were rising as the port began expanding ahead of schedule. The government decreed later that year that ships carrying car imports bound for Colombo port would instead offload their cargo at Hambantota to kick-start business there. Still, only 34 ships berthed at Hambantota in 2012, compared with 3,667 ships at the Colombo port, according to a Finance Ministry annual report.
“When I came to the government, I called the minister of national planning and asked for the justification of Hambantota Port,” Harsha de Silva, the state minister for national policies and economic affairs, said in an interview. “She said, ‘We were asked to do it, so we did it.’ ”
Determined to keep expanding the port, Mr. Rajapaksa went back to the Chinese government in 2012, asking for $757 million.
The Chinese agreed again. But this time, the terms were much steeper.
The first loan, at $307 million, had originally come at a variable rate that usually settled above 1 or 2 percent after the global financial crash in 2008. (For comparison, rates on similar Japanese loans for infrastructure projects run below half a percent.)
But to secure fresh funding, that initial loan was renegotiated to a much higher 6.3 percent fixed rate. Mr. Rajapaksa acquiesced.
The rising debt and project costs, even as the port was struggling, handed Sri Lanka’s political opposition a powerful issue, and it campaigned heavily on suspicions about China. Mr. Rajapaksa lost the election.
The incoming government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, came to office with a mandate to scrutinize Sri Lanka’s financial deals. It also faced a daunting amount of debt: Under Mr. Rajapaksa, the country’s debt had increased threefold, to $44.8 billion when he left office. And for 2015 alone, a $4.68 billion payment was due at year’s end.
Signing It Away
The new government was eager to reorient Sri Lanka toward India, Japan and the West. But officials soon realized that no other country could fill the financial or economic space that China held in Sri Lanka.
“We inherited a purposefully run-down economy — the revenues were insufficient to pay the interest charges, let alone capital repayment,” said Ravi Karunanayake, who was finance minister during the new government’s first year in office.
“We did keep taking loans,” he added. “A new government can’t just stop loans. It’s a relay; you need to take them until economic discipline is introduced.”
The Central Bank estimated that Sri Lanka owed China about $3 billion last year. But Nishan de Mel, an economist at Verité Research, said some of the debts were off government books and instead registered as part of individual projects. He estimated that debt owed to China could be as much as $5 billion and was growing every year. In May, Sri Lanka took a new $1 billion loan from China Development Bank to help make its coming debt payment.
Government officials began meeting in 2016 with their Chinese counterparts to strike a deal, hoping to get the port off Sri Lanka’s balance sheet and avoid outright default. But the Chinese demanded that a Chinese company take a dominant equity share in the port in return, Sri Lankan officials say — writing down the debt was not an option China would accept.
When Sri Lanka was given a choice, it was over which state-owned company would take control: either China Harbor or China Merchants Port, according to the final agreement, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, although it was never released publicly in full.
China Merchants got the contract, and it immediately pressed for more: Company officials demanded 15,000 acres of land around the port to build an industrial zone, according to two officials with knowledge of the negotiations. The Chinese company argued that the port itself was not worth the $1.1 billion it would pay for its equity — money that would close out Sri Lanka’s debt on the port.
Some government officials bitterly opposed the terms, but there was no leeway, according to officials involved in the negotiations. The new agreement was signed in July 2017, and took effect in December.
The deal left some appearance of Sri Lankan ownership: Among other things, it created a joint company to manage the port’s operations and collect revenue, with 85 percent owned by China Merchants Port and the remaining 15 percent controlled by Sri Lanka’s government.
But lawyers specializing in port acquisitions said Sri Lanka’s small stake meant little, given the leverage that China Merchants Port retained over board personnel and operating decisions.
When the agreement was initially negotiated, it left open whether the port and surrounding land could be used by the Chinese military, which Indian officials asked the Sri Lankan government to explicitly forbid. The final agreement bars foreign countries from using the port for military purposes unless granted permission by the government in Colombo.
That clause is there because Chinese Navy submarines had already come calling to Sri Lanka.
China had a stake in Sri Lanka’s main port as well: China Harbor was building a new terminal there, known at the time as Colombo Port City. Along with that deal came roughly 50 acres of land, solely held by the Chinese company, that Sri Lanka had no sovereignty on.
That was dramatically demonstrated toward the end of Mr. Rajapaksa’s term, in 2014. Chinese submarines docked at the harbor the same day that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was visiting Colombo, in what was seen across the region as a menacing signal from Beijing.
When the new Sri Lankan government came to office, it sought assurances that the port would never again welcome Chinese submarines — of particular concern because they are difficult to detect and often used for intelligence gathering. But Sri Lankan officials had little real control.
Sri Lankan officials are quick to point out that the agreement explicitly rules out China’s military use of the site. But others also note that Sri Lanka’s government, still heavily indebted to China, could be pressured to allow it.
And, as Mr. de Silva, the state minister for national policies and economic affairs, put it, “Governments can change.”
Now, he and others are watching carefully as Mr. Rajapaksa, China’s preferred partner in Sri Lanka, has been trying to stage a political comeback. The former president’s new opposition party swept municipal elections in February. Presidential elections are coming up next year, and general elections in 2020.
Although Mr. Rajapaksa is barred from running again because of term limits, his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defense secretary, appears to be readying to take the mantle.
“It will be Mahinda Rajapaksa’s call. If he says it’s one of the brothers, that person will have a very strong claim,” said Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the central bank governor under Mr. Rajapaksa’s government, who still advises the family. “Even if he’s no longer the president, as the Constitution is structured, Mahinda will be the main power base.”
L’8 settembre 1380 i russi guidati dal Granduca di Vladimir, Dmitrij Ivanovič di Mosca, sconfissero l’armata dell’Orda d’Oro con gli alleati lituani. Fu l’inizio di una lunga guerra di liberazione che terminò con la battaglia sull’Ugra, un secolo dopo.
Nessuna sorpresa quindi che quando la Prussia Orientale passò nel 1945 da tedesca a russa con il nome di Circondariato Federale Nordoccidentale, Oblast di Kaliningrad, nella ridenominazione dei paesi e delle cittadine una avesse assunto il glorioso nome di Kulikovo.
L’Oblast di Kaliningrad è altamente strategico. È l’estrema punta occidentale della Russia ed i suoi porti non ghiacciano durante l’inverno: sono infatti sede della Flotta del Baltico. Con l’acuirsi dei dissensi tra occidentali e russi, quell’area strategica è stata riarmata.
Una cosa è certa. Se in passato gli occidentali trovarono una buona ragione per andare a morire per Danzica, oggi i russi ne hanno altrettanta per andare a morire per Kaliningrad.
«The anti-aircraft systems, which have a range of 400 km, will then be deployed to secure the air space along Russia’s north-western border»
«Lanciabile da una piattaforma mobile, l’Iskander viaggia a mach 6.2 – è ipersonico -: in tre o quattro minuti primi arriva da Kaliningrad a Berlino. Quasi nemmeno il tempo di poter dare l’allarme. …. Può portare testate convenzionali ma anche una bomba termonucleare da 50 kTon»
«During flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories and can turn at up to 20 to 30 G to evade anti-ballistic missiles»
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Chiariti questi elementi di base, entriamo nel merito.
La Federation of American Scientists (FAS) ha rilasciato un documento che suggerirebbe quanto segue.
«Russia may have significantly upgraded its nuclear bunker in Kaliningrad»
«The photos reportedly showed that Russia may have modernized the nuclear weapons storage bunker which is located in a sensitive enclave of Russian territory which is between Poland and the Baltics.»
«one of three underground bunkers at the location was excavated and deepened before it appeared to have been covered over in recent months, “presumably to return (to) operational status soon.”»
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Il problema è drammaticamente semplice.
Usualmente le superpotenze atomiche schierano i loro arsenali nucleari molto addentro i loro territori: chiaro indizio di quanto essi costituiscano elemento deterrente, di difesa.
Ma i missili balistici intercontinentali sono abbastanza facilmente rilevabili dai radar avversi e, soprattutto, con un margine di tempo sufficiente per mettere in atto tutte le opportune contromisure. I sistemi anti – missile da ambo le parti sono riferiti in grado di abbattere un buon numero di testate in arrivo.
L’introduzione di missili a corto raggio ma ipersonici ha cambiato le esigenze dello scacchiere.
Lanciabili da mezzi mobili, i missili ipersonici arriverebbero sul bersaglio in tempi così ristretti da rendere impossibile l’attivazione dei sistemi anti – missile. Non solo. Ma gli attuali sistemi radar e missili – antimissile non sarebbero in grado di intercettarli.
Sapere che l’Oblast di Kaliningrad rigurgita di questi missili e che a Kulikovo sono stati costruiti grandiosi depositi per armamenti nucleari non concorrerebbe a lasciar fare soni tranquilli.
During the past two years, the Russian military has carried out a major renovation of what appears to be an active nuclear weapons storage site in the Kaliningrad region, about 50 kilometers from the Polish border.
A Digital Globe satellite image purchased via Getty Images, and several other satellite images viewable on TerraServer, show one of three underground bunkers near Kulikovo being excavated in 2016, apparently renovated, and getting covered up again in 2018 presumably to return operational status soon.
The latest upgrade obviously raises questions about what the operational status of the site is. Does it now, has it in the past, or will it in the future store nuclear warheads for Russian dual-capable non-strategic weapon systems deployed in the region? If so, does this signal a new development in Russian nuclear weapons strategy in Kaliningrad, or is it a routine upgrade of an aging facility for an existing capability? The satellite images do not provide conclusive answers to these questions. The Russian government has on numerous occasions stated that all its non-strategic nuclear warheads are kept in “central” storage, a formulation normally thought to imply larger storage sites further inside Russia. So the Kulikovo site could potentially function as a forward storage site that would be supplied with warheads from central storage sites in a crisis.
The features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian Air Force or Navy dual-capable forces. But it could also be a joint site, potentially servicing nuclear warheads for both Air Force, Navy, Army, air-defense, and costal defense forces in the region. It is to my knowledge the only nuclear weapons storage site in the Kaliningrad region. Despite media headlines, the presence of nuclear-capable forces in that area is not new; Russia deployed dual-capable forces in Kaliningrad during the Cold War and has continued to do so after. But nearly all of those weapon systems have recently been, or are in the process of being modernized. The Kulikovo site site is located:
– About 8 kilometers (5 miles) miles from the Chkalovsk air base (54.7661°, 20.3985°), which has been undergoing major renovation since 2012 and hosts potentially dual-capable strike aircraft.
– About 27 kilometers (16 miles) from the coastal-defense site near Donskoye (54.9423°, 19.9722°), which recently switched from the SSC-1B Sepal to the P-800 Bastion coastal-defense system. The Bastion system uses the SS-N-26 (3M-55, Yakhont) missile, that U.S. Intelligence estimates is “nuclear possible.”
– About 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the Baltic Sea Fleet base at Baltiysk (54.6400°, 19.9175°), which includes nuclear-capable submarines, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes.
– About 96 kilometers (60 miles) from the 152nd Detachment Missile Brigade at Chernyakovsk (54.6380°, 21.8266°), which has recently been upgraded from the SS-21 SRBM to the SS-26 (Islander) SRBM. Unlike other SS-26 bases, however, Chernyakovsk has not (yet) been added a new missile storage facility.
– Near half a dozen S-300 and S-400 air-defense units deployed in the region. The 2018 NPR states that Russian’s air-defense forces are dual-capable. These sites are located 20 kilometers (13 miles) to 98 kilometers (60 miles) from the storage site.
So there are many potential clients for the Kulikovo nuclear weapons storage site. Similar upgrades have been made to other Russian nuclear weapons storage sites over the base decade, including for the Navy’s nuclear submarine base on the Kamchatka peninsula. There are also ongoing upgrades to other weapons storage sites in the Kaliningrad region, but they do not appear to be nuclear.
The issue of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons has recently achieved new attention because of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which accused Russia of increasing the number and types of its non-strategic nuclear weapons. The Review stated Russia has “up to 2,000” non-strategic nuclear weapons, indirectly confirming FAS’ estimate.
NATO has for several years urged Russia to move its nuclear weapons further back from NATO borders. With Russia’s modernization of its conventional forces, there should be even less, not more, justification for upgrading nuclear facilities in Kaliningrad.
Parlare di problemi militari può essere estremamente semplice oppure assurdamente complesso, a seconda che l’interlocutore sia uno del mestiere (ossia un venditore oppure un acquirente di armi), ovvero una persona semplicemente interessata al problema.
Questa ultima categoria, dignitosissima si intende, fatica non poco a vedere le cose nel loro insieme e quasi di norma si perde nei dettagli tecnici: solitamente sono incantati dal grado di sofisticazione di un particolare sistema di arma.
L’arma che ha fatto più morti nelle guerre combattute negli ultimi trenta anni è stata la baionetta ed il machete. Questo dato di fatto è tenuto sempre presente da quanti siano deputati all’addestramento di una forza combattente: l’addestramento al corpo a corpo è più rilevante che il maneggio di armi altamente sofisticate. Esso implica anche un lavorio continuo e profondo sulla volontà combattiva, senza la quale non esiste armamento che tenga.
Un secondo aspetto che stranamente pochi sembrerebbero aver compreso a fondo, è la differenza degli obbiettivi stratetici delle grandi superpotenze, America, Cina e Russia.
Mentre l’America ha interessi a livello mondiale e deve quindi disporre di forze armate a tale livello, Cina e Russia hanno una visione strategica locoregionale. Sicuramente si sono dotate di sistemi di arma atomici strategici, intercontinentali, sottomarini atomici e via quant’altro, ma la loro preoccupazione maggiore è quella della sicurezza nazionale. In questa ottica, in una eventuale guerra tra Stati Uniti e Russia la marina militare americana svolgerebbe un ruolo secondario, eccetto i sommergibili atomici.
Un altro aspetto che resta inspiegabilmente incomprensibile a molti è il rapporto beneficio / costo. Ogni sistema di arma richiede investimenti dalla fase di progettazione, costruzione, messa a punto e testaggio. Quindi si apre il capitolo delle spese di manutenzione. Una guerra non è la fiera delle novità, bensì quella della efficienza. Cercheremo di spiegarci con un esempio: costa meno disporre di un missile antiaereo preciso al 100% ma molto costoso, oppure disporre di molti missili antiaerei relativamente poco precisi ma producibili a costi bassi?
Russia e Cina non hanno per esempio delle flotte strategiche per il semplice motivo che loro non servono. E le flotte americane avrebbero ben poca utilità in una guerra contro queste nazioni: di fatto non possono entrare nei Mar della Cina, né quello Nord né quello Sud. E le distanze di sicurezza sono talmente ampie da lasciare i territori continentali fuori dal raggio di azione delle armi caricate sulle navi.
«However, the military expert warns that ranking countries by military power is “more or less useless” as armed forces’ effectiveness depends on the goals set by the nation’s leaders.»
«This point of view is echoed by Russian journalist and military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, who warns that real-life conflicts depend on many different variables, including the geography and the people involved.»
«These problems were exacerbated by the 2014 Crimean crisis, according to the analyst. In the years leading up to the showdown with the West, Moscow was spending at least $500 million in the US shopping for the so-called double-use merchandize, which can be used for both military and civilian purposes.»
«It was electronic components for Russian weapons and satellites, different kinds of special glass and steel»
«In addition to the nuclear arsenal, there is one area in which Russia is clearly number one. Recently, the Kremlin announced that Russia had more tanks than any other nation in the world …. 20,000 tanks»
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Una ultima considerazione.
Le guerre si svolgono tra almeno due belligeranti. La risultante finale è determinata dal comportamento di ambedue.
È davvero caso raro di una guerra combattuta esclusivamente con i criteri di uno dei contendenti. Di conseguenza, sistemi d’arma studiati per un ben determinato impiego potrebbero risultare essere ininfluenti. Un caso da manuale è stata la guerra in Vietnam: la superiorità tecnologica americana fu sconfitta dalla tecnica di guerriglia.
Russian armed forces provide Moscow with clear military superiority in the post-Soviet region, despite Russia’s troops not being able to match the whole of NATO. The Kremlin is busy modernizing its army, experts told DW.
The US, Russia, and China are considered the world’s strongest nations when it comes to military power, with the US the undisputed number one. Even so, Russia’s still has plenty of arrows in its quiver, most notably the massive nuclear arsenal of some 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.
Leaving the nuclear weapons aside, however, the US has an overwhelming advantage in conventional forces, including a much stronger navy and air force, Russian military analyst Aleksandr Golts told DW.
China, according to Golts, would also have the advantage of numbers in any conventional showdown with Russia. In other areas, however, things are not as clear-cut.
“Russia’s air force is much stronger than the Chinese for now,” he told DW. “It questionable about the navy, as the Chinese are now undertaking a very ambitious program of ship building and they are much more successful in building a [global] blue Navy fleet than Russia.”
Still, while Russia’s battleships are old, they are often equipped with very modern cruise missiles, according to Golts.
However, the military expert warns that ranking countries by military power is “more or less useless” as armed forces’ effectiveness depends on the goals set by the nation’s leaders.
‘We don’t always know where the target is’
This point of view is echoed by Russian journalist and military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, who warns that real-life conflicts depend on many different variables, including the geography and the people involved.
“It’s like predicting a result of a soccer match: Yes, basically, Brazil should beat America in soccer, but I have seen Americans beat Brazil in South Africa, at the Confederations Cup,” he told DW. “You never know the result until the game is played.”
Felgenhauer notes that Russia is lacking in many areas of modern military technology, including drone design and production, electronic components, as well as radar and satellite reconnaissance. For example, Russia is currently producing surveillance drones under an Israeli license, and it is completely lacking in assault drone capability.
Russia is also working on modernizing its command and control centers, which serve to process information from the battlefield and feed it to the troops.
“That’s what the Russian military is talking about: Yes, we have weapons, including long-range weapons, but our reconaissance capabilities are weaker than our attack capabilities,” Felgenhauer said. “So we have-long range, sometimes precision guided weapons, but we don’t always know where the target is.”
No more German and French satellites
These problems were exacerbated by the 2014 Crimean crisis, according to the analyst. In the years leading up to the showdown with the West, Moscow was spending at least $500 million in the US shopping for the so-called double-use merchandize, which can be used for both military and civilian purposes.
“It was electronic components for Russian weapons and satellites, different kinds of special glass and steel,” Felgenhauer says.
Similarly, “France and Germany were making double-use satellites, which were basically military satellites, recon satellites, for Russia. And all that kind of stopped.”
Good old Soviet weapons
Faced with the West’s embargo, Russia is also working to develop its own drones and close the technological gap in other areas. However, the breakdown of the Soviet Union left Moscow not only weaker in terms of territory and the number of troops, but also when it comes to military suppliers, according to the experts.
“The Soviet Union had an idiotic, but at least very logical economy,” Aleksandr Golts says. “It had nothing to do with market economy, but the main goal for any enterprise on Soviet territory, whether it was designated as military or civilian, was to be ready to produce military goods and equipment in case of war. After the fall of the Soviet Union, these systems disappeared.”
On the other hand, the legacy of the Soviet Union is still very much present in the modern Russian army, as many of its cutting edge systems “are the development of good, old Soviet systems and the modernization of that type of technology,” says Golts.
One such weapon is the decades-old Su-25 attack plane, designed to support ground troops. Russia recently announced that the latest version of the aircraft has entered production.
“It is very well known to all the people who participated in the (1980’s) Afghan war, such as myself,” he told DW. “But, its designers insist it only looks like the old Su-25, that all the avionics are absolutely modern […] and it has shown how good it was during the Syrian war.”
In addition to the nuclear arsenal, there is one area in which Russia is clearly number one. Recently, the Kremlin announced that Russia had more tanks than any other nation in the world, notes Felgenhauer.
“Unofficially, I have seen figures of up to 20,000, which would mean that Russia has more tanks than all the NATO countries put together.”
Most of the European powers reduced their tank capabilities after the end of the Cold War, focusing instead on conflicts with terrorist and guerilla groups. This, according to Felgenhauer, puts them at a massive disadvantage in the event of a ground war in Europe.
“Germany has only 300 tanks left right now,” he says. “Britain has, I think, 250, and France also something close to that.”
In the event of all-European war, Russia also holds a logistical advantage over the West, according to Felgenhauer. Where NATO would need months to mobilize it full strength, Russia would be able to bring in reinforcements on a much tighter schedule.
«Con l’espressione “Stati con armi nucleari” si indicano quelle nazioni che hanno costruito, hanno testato e sono attualmente in possesso di armi nucleari di qualunque tipo; in termini colloquiali, spesso ci si riferisce a questi Stati con l’espressione “club nucleare”. In base ai termini del Trattato di non proliferazione nucleare (TNP), entrato in vigore il 5 marzo 1970, sono considerate ufficialmente “Stati con armi nucleari” (nuclear weapons states o NWS) quelle nazioni che hanno assemblato e testato ordigni nucleari prima del 1º gennaio 1967: Stati Uniti d’America, Russia (succeduta all’Unione Sovietica), Regno Unito, Francia e Cina, ovvero i cinque membri permanenti del Consiglio di sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite.
Oltre a queste, altre quattro nazioni, non aderenti al TNP, hanno sviluppato e sono in possesso di armamenti nucleari: India, Pakistan, Corea del Nord (aderente al TNP nel 1985 ma ritiratasi da esso nel 2001) ed Israele (sebbene il governo israeliano non abbia mai confermato ufficialmente di possedere un arsenale nucleare); lo status di queste nazioni circa gli armamenti nucleari non è formalmente riconosciuto dagli organismi internazionali, ma è contemplato nelle pianificazioni strategiche dei principali Stati nucleari. Il Sudafrica allestì un arsenale nucleare tra la metà degli anni settanta e la fine degli anni ottanta ma scelse spontaneamente di smantellarlo nel 1991; i neo indipendenti Stati di Bielorussia, Kazakistan ed Ucraina si ritrovarono a gestire armi nucleari ex sovietiche dopo la dissoluzione dell’URSS, smantellandole o restituendole alla Russia entro il 1997.» [Fonte]
Le armi atomiche sono un deterrente tale da mantenere le forze in equilibrio, anche se labile. Diciamo che da un punto di vista di Realpolitik interessano sicuramente il numero delle testate, ma soprattutto che le possibili potenze concorrenti abbiano potenzialità ragionevolmente eguali.
Sicuramente negli ultimi lustri sono stati progettati e costruiti sistemi di arma in grado di neutralizzare i missili di potenziali assalitori, ma quanto poi essi siano funzionali sul campo di battaglia è tutto da vedere, anche se si spera che mai lo si debba constatare.
Parlando a spanne, la quantità di armamenti attualmente in linea è tale da poter distruggere completamente il mondo e la vita su di esso.
Negli ultimi tempi la dottrina atomica ha virato dalle bombe di elevata potenza a quelle di potenza molto più limitata, si direbbero quasi di uso tattico, anche se il termine è improprio, pur rendendo l’idea.
A quanto sembrerebbe di capire, ma il condizionale è d’obbligo, Stati Uniti e Russia hanno sviluppato missili vettori ipersonici. Questi vettori sarebbero molto più difficilmente intercettabili.
2018 has already became a huge year for nuclear weapons-related developments all over the world, with a new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review published, the Russian and U.S. achievement of New START Central Limits, and the Doomsday Clock moved 30 seconds closer to midnight. Last but not least, Russian President Vladimir Putin rather unexpectedly showcased a number of new nuclear delivery vehicles during his annual (although postponed) Address to the Federal Assembly.
Russia remains a key figure for both worldwide nuclear arsenals as well as strategic stability, so it is important to understand the existing and future capabilities of Strategic Rocket Forces and their sea- and air-based companions.
Regarding the land-based leg of Russian nuclear triad, the important part is rather evolutionary: deliveries of new Yars (SS-27 Mod 2) intercontinental-range ballistic missiles or ICBMs (as well as yet to be specified Yars-S) in road-mobile and silo-based variants have led to the complete rearmament of up to three missile divisions, with rearmament ongoing for three. The development of the Barguzin rail-mobile ICBM project has been finished, but deployment was canceled, which back in the day seemed a good sign, as this system was obviously excessive.
Another future system, the Sarmat (SS-X-29) heavy liquid-fuel ICBM faced a number of problems, but eventually reached the ejection test stage, which was deemed successful. This missile is said to be more powerful than the renowned Satan (SS-18). However, using it as delivery vehicle for multiple (10+) warheads looks like an unnecessary capability given the existing New START limits (700 deployed launchers and 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads).
Now we come to the “gliding cruise bloc” Avangard, a hypersonic glider previously known as “Project 4202” or “Yu-71.” This type of payload, said to enter serial production, is capable of precise hits on any target, avoiding any existing or future missile defenses. The mating of Avangard and Sarmat (probably up to five gliders per missile, but likely less) seems the most appropriate way to use those new toys.
There were six ICBM test launches over 2017, related both to life extension and new payload types. As usual, the number was lower than previously announced; the same dynamics will probably remain in 2018.
Overall, Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) commander Sergei Karakayev remains committed to the 400 ICBMs at his disposal, but this number obviously includes nondeployed missiles, as otherwise there’s no chance for Russia to get under New START limits. It’s important to note that, given the rapid decline of the provisional “warheads-per-vehicle” coefficient over the last year, there’s a chance that “un-deployment” for existing heavy ICBMs (the SS-18 and SS-19) had already taken place.
Coming back to Putin’s nuclear weapons extravaganza, there’s one more system possibly related to the ground leg, the nuclear-powered cruise missile (possibly 9M730, but no one knows for sure) with unlimited range. Its current status, research, and deployment schedules are yet to be disclosed (or not), but it is worth noting, that “examples” given during the address were the sea-launched Tomahawk and air-launched Kh-101. However, the launcher used during the test shown in the relevant video resembles several types of self-propelled launchers for tactical surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles combined.
The sea leg of the nuclear triad launched several SS-N-23A Sinevas and a single SS-N-32 Bulava in 2017. The latter fact raises some concern, as we are yet to witness the possibility of salvo fires with this missile system. The Tula (Delta-IV class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) returned from repairs to the Northern Fleet, while Bryansk of the same type (praised for a successful submarine-launched ballistic missile launch during strategic exercises by the fleet commander), left in turn for Zvezdochka to undergo work to repair, modernize, and restore its combat readiness.
Judging from the official photos, two Borei and 3 Delta-III SSBNs are ready for combat duty in the Pacific Ocean. The first 955A (Borei-A), Prince Vladimir, took to the water in 2017 as well. The original Borei class used the hulls from the Soviet reserve, so this ship is the first of entirely new construction. It’s worth noting that over the past year there were a number of confirmations regarding plans to develop an even more advanced underwater cruiser, Borei-B, within the framework of the State Armaments Program-2027 (GPV-2027).
There were a number of disclosures and an eventual statement by Putin on new unmanned underwater “drones,” namely Status-6 (or Kanyon) and Klavesin-2P (Harpsichord). It is rather strange that those two systems appeared in the same video and now are waiting for “public” designations together as well, because they obviously have different purposes. The main task of Klavesin-2P is believed to be expanding situational awareness for submarines, while Status-6 is an “intercontinental nuclear-tipped torpedo,” capable of destroying coastal infrastructure and (at least as shown in the video rendering) surface ship strike groups. It is yet to be understood how such a system, supposedly carrying a multimegaton nuclear warhead, should be factored into existing and future arms control agreements. Status-6 is a strategic system, so it seems appropriate to include this beast into some future START-type treaty, but one must keep in mind that long-range nuclear-tipped submarine-launched cruise missiles, which are still in service in the Russian Navy (and possibly will see a return for the U.S. Navy as well), are not covered by existing treaties, while having strategic implications.
The most important “material” event for the Russia Air Force’s Strategic Aviation over the last year happened in 2018: first “new” Tu-160 (“Blackjack”) Heavy Bomber took its maiden flight. Of course one must remember that it was built using anunfinished body and it is yet to be understood which types (Tu-160M/160M1/160M2) will be produced and when, but this is an important milestone nevertheless. A contract for 10 planes was signed. A proper “future bomber,” PAK DA is yet to be disclosed; the only specification we may be sure about is that it will be based on a “flying wing” scheme. There’s word that some level of unification regarding avionics and weapons will be achieved for new Blackjacks and the PAK DA.
As for today, the main capability increase for the air leg of Russia’s nuclear triad is being achieved by the modernization of existing Tu-160 and Tu-95MS (Bear-H) aircraft, so they can use Kh-101 cruise missiles. This long-range stealthy cruise missile (Kh-102 for nuclear-tipped variant) will remain the main armament for new heavy bombers as well.
Heavy bombers remain an important signalling tool. Blackjacks and Bears routinely visit faraway airspace and airdromes, serving as a reminder of Russian strategic capabilities. Also, they are the only part of the triad (Luckily) that has seen real action: there were at least 66 air-launched cruise missiles launched at Islamic State terrorists in Syria.
During Vladimir Putin’s address, the air-based hypersonic weapons system “Kinzhal” (“Dagger”) was demonstrated, and even said to have entered test service in the Southern Federal (sic) District of Russia. The easiest way to describe this system is an Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) solid-fuel aeroballistic missile (probably a 9M723 derivative) mated to MiG-31 (Foxhound) interceptor. The system is capable of hitting ground and sea-surface targets, avoiding missile defenses, and serves as a good example how existing technological marvels may produce synergy. It is yet to be determined if the stated 2,000 kilometer range means the missile only or the system as a whole. Kinzhal does not fall under New START definitions for strategic air leg, as Foxhound is hardly a heavy bomber, and the missile is obviously not cruise-type, but this is an important topic for discussion among experts and policymakers.
Stability or Escalation?
Russia remains fully capable of destroying the United States, and, most importantly, U.S. Strategic Command capabilities are roughly the same. This balance remains a pillar of global peace, even under the currently strained relations between the great powers. Discussions on limited nuclear use will likely remain unrelated to reality; any nuclear use will lead to full-scale retaliation.
What is important is how other nuclear-weapons states may be factored into the equation. Russia has until recently insisted that any further reductions can’t be achieved on a bilateral basis, while “third parties” have speculated that they can’t “join the game” while Russian and U.S. arsenals are bigger by such a great margin. Another issue in the strategic arms debate is U.S. Missile Defense, an overhyped problem for both the domestic audience and some military experts in Russia. Showing a great number of new “penetrating” nuclear delivery vehicles must be seen not as “saber-rattling” but as a therapy for the audience both within Russia and abroad.
However, an unusual statement was made by Vladimir Putin during his interview for NBC, which may show a way to overcome both problems. He said that Russia is ready to continue the dialogue on existing and new strategic arms control treaties, and added that, given new weapons’ missile defense penetration capabilities, “We no longer consider the reduction of ballistic missiles and warheads to be highly critical.” He indicated that new strategic weapons also will be included in the grand total.
Such an attitude is yet to see implementation in detailed strategic stability talks (it’s possible that this may have been a subject of the recently postponed meeting), but the parties seem ready for discussion. Future reductions may open the way for third parties to join the process – initially by agreeing to some level of transparency and confidence-building measures.
Military planners in every country think about waging and winning nuclear war, but testing their calculations remains superfluous.