Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Russian Navy to copy US model, Russian companies are best bribers and Kyrgystan tells the US to leave.

According to this Russia Today article the Russian Navy has decided to build a nuclear powered aircraft carrier to form a 'Carrier Group' which would mirror the US Navy's model.
The only aircraft carrier currently in service with the Russian Navy, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is actually described as a 'Heavy Aircraft Carrying Missile Cruiser' by the Russians. Differentiating from Western carriers as she operates not only aircraft but surface to surface cruise missiles too and has the defences to sail without escort.
However, it is rumoured that Kuznetsov will have her missiles removed and carrier operations expanded during an over hall, scheduled for 2012. Which will of course, bring her role in line with American carriers.
The new Russian carrier is scheduled to be ready by 2023, by which time two carrier groups could be possible. This will of course have a bearing on Russia's position in the Pacific and Atlantic. But for comparison purposes only, the US currently operates 11 carrier groups.
Here is the current Russian carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov....



The new President-elect of Kyrgyzstan has ordered all military out of civilian airports serving the country's capital. This has been spoken of before but this time the Kyrgyz's seem to mean business. This means the US air base Manas will have to go. Currently the US pays millions of dollars for the privilege of having an airbase in Kyrgyzstan. However, in a move to secure better relations to form the new Eurasion Union, the Kyrgyz's are pushing America out. There have also been rumours that the Chinese have offered large sums of money to the Kyrgyz's to out the American's as they sit uncomfortably close to China.
The base was set up in 2001 to aid the war on terror in Afghanistan.
See the article from Russia Today here.

The BBC has run with this article today documenting the results of a survey conducted by the anti-corruption group - Transparency International.
The group polled 3,000 business executives on whether bribes were offered from companies operating in 28 different countries. The Netherlands and Switzerland came joint first (least amount of bribes offered), Russia came last, behind China and Mexico. Reputations are obviously gained for good reason.


Lastly, here is a new photo from FYRUPolitics. Make of it what you will......


Monday, 31 October 2011

Russia's new missile on track, Disney in Russia and what time is it President Medvedev?

In 1947 Walt Disney testified in the House Committee on Un-American Activities regarding communist activities in Hollywood and within his company specifically.
Sixty four years later, the Disney Channel is going to be broadcasted to 75% of the Russian TV audience. Walt Disney Co. is buying a 49% share in a major terrestrial channel in Russia, for a reported $300 million. A great step for American-Russian relations.
See the photo below with the President and Chief Exec. of Disney, sitting in the middle of the sofa on the right. Obviously meeting with Putin, who looks a little small in the middle of his sofa, it's hard to tell if his feet are touching the floor. This photo was taken four days ago in Moscow.


Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister has spoken out about the NATO-Russian negotiations on the proposed American/NATO missile defence shield in Europe, more information can be found in one of my earlier posts.
In the wake of a NATO delegation sent to Russia last week on a good will mission, the Minister has been quoted in a Russia Today article saying;

"it would mean that ideological approaches still prevail" -if an agreement couldn't be made between the two sides.

He also said ,“some countries of the alliance say they cannot entrust their security to Russia, since the RF is not part of the collective system of defense…”
“We consider this logic old-fashioned. It goes completely against the principles that we are not only trying to protect within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council, but based on which we cooperate with NATO,

So it's all or nothing for Russia right now as they are pushing for full co-operation on the security of North America, Europe and Asia in a jointly operated missile defence shield. 
Or maybe the terms, which NATO think are too unreasonable, are just a continued grumpy attitude in the wake of Gadhafi's death. Could Gadhafi's death stopped Russia's negotiations on the issue?
Have a look at this anti-NATO article on Russia Today titled 'NATO hunting season in full swing'. Is this the opinion of the Russian Government as well?


Russia is still reporting on the successful testing of their new solid fuel Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) which will play a big part in Russia's nuclear deterrence. But the Bulava missile still requires more testing. So why keep announcing its success so far in articles in Russia Today, The Moscow Times and pravada.ru. The tests have had some failures over the year but now, Russia is keen to let the world know that they are still on track to having a nuclear missile that can dodge any defence system the American's want to build. The Cold War continues.....heres the video from Russia Today;



Lastly, BBC online ran this article yesterday as most of Europe woke up to the surprise of having one hour longer in bed, President Medvedev declined the Russian people their extra hour. He decided Russia would not put the clocks back and would remain on summer time, keeping the evenings brighter and the mornings darker. A decision I doubt he will receive any flack for. 


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ekranoplan and Ground Effect Vehicles Part 1 and the NATO Air Force.


I have already shown you, in a previous post, the lengths the Russian's went to to gain advantage, or in fact, not to lose the advantage. In that post I wrote about rail launched ICBMs. Something that is even more fascinating is the Ekranoplan. Ekranoplan was one of the Soviet's best kept secrets throughout the Cold War.
In 1966 the CIA were, of course, photographing as much of the Soviet Union as they could with satellites. One photo that puzzled them looked similar to this:

View Larger Map

This is of course a current snap shot from google maps, but it is of the Lun, a super Ekranoplan, seen here near Kaspiysk, Russia.
When looking at the satellite photos, the anaylists had no idea what they had found. It looked like an aircraft, but the wings were far too small. It completely baffled them and throughout the war they never found out exactly what the Russians were up to.
So what is it? That picture above is a completed Lun Ekranoplan - a Ground Effect Vehicle or Wing in Ground machine. The Lun is smaller weaponised version the CIA originally saw in '66, which was the KM model.
The KM and the Lun were born from Soviet ship designer, Rostislav Alexeyev, who had ambitions to increase the speed of ships that he built. He toyed with Hydrofoils but they weren't fast enough.
So instead he harnessed 'ground effect'. A phenomenon effecting aircraft, not ships.
In basic terms, ground effect is experienced by aircraft when flying at approximately the same altitude (or less) of the length of the aircraft's wing span. So, very low indeed. At this altitude induced drag is very much reduced creating many advantages. Alexeyev designed a machine that would fly in ground effect only, to take advantage of significantly reduced drag.
So what are the advantages?
The ability to carry a huge payload, much more than an aircraft. For example, the B-52 Stratofortress that the US currently uses has a max takeoff weight of 488,000lbs and is about 49 metres long. The Lun had a max takeoff weight of 837,575lbs and a length of about 74 metres. Quite a difference.
Another major advantage was the ability to fly very low and very fast. The Lun would cruise at 15ft of altitude and could reach speeds in advance of 300mph below enemy radar.
That meant she had the obvious potential of creeping up on a US carrier group or a coast line and delivering her payload.
This was six P-270 Moskit cruise missiles. These are still in use today by the Russian Navy, Army and Air Force. The missiles can reach speeds of Mach 3 at altitude or Mach 2.2 at low altitude. Low altitude where they would be deadly if used by Lun. The Lun was designed for anti-ship operations, being able to deliver 6 Moskits, at Mach 2.2 from the Luna whilst travelling at over 300mph with no radar signature. That's a pretty deadly combination. To add to that, Moskits can be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads thus becoming a tactical nuclear weapon.
So lets take a look at the Lun in action, skip to 31 seconds and you will see her come into shot and launch a Moskit.


Another military application of the Ekranoplan was to transport transporter with the ability of beach landings/assaults. The A-90 Orlyonok (seen below) was designed to do just that. Again with the advantages of high speed and no radar signiture.


Range was also impressive on both Ekranoplans. The A-90 had a range of 930 miles and the Lun with over 1200 miles.

Would it surprise you to learn that both of these Ekranoplans were in service with the Soviet and Russian Navies? One Lun served from 1987 until an undisclosed time and three A-90s served from 1979 to 1993.

Soviet designers were on par with Western designers and were well respected by their Western piers. Ideas like these show what people are capable of in such dark times. In part 2 I will talk about which military force currently uses ground effect vehicles and whether the Russians will revive their Ekranoplans or not.

In the photo below is the Lun you saw in the video, the same one you can also still see on the map at the beginning of the article, now resting at her home on the Caspian Sea.


Awsome is a word very much over used these days, but it doesn't do this monster justice. Realising such an idea was a great victory for the Cold War and the Soviet Union.

The photo above is from a set which a young Russian posted on his blog after he took a trip to visit the lun. Take a look.

Lastly, I wanted to share this photo of some NATO livery on an E-3 AWACS.


OK, its not the real livery but the NATO E-3 AWACS are very real. Take a look at the NATO AWACS website where you can see the actual livery amongst other things. No wonder the Russians get a little nervous of NATO.



Thursday, 27 October 2011

Russian Assassins, NATO-Kremlin talks and is the Putin-Medvedev job swap still on?

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev have been photographed learning to farm. By the looks of the expression on Medvedev's face, it was Putin's idea.


Dmitry looks fairly uncomfortable at the wheel of this agricultural beast, you can see the shine on the side of his head, a nervous sweat. 


Vlad is clearly reveling in his command of this combine. Taking his time to learn the controls to execute his harvest with precision, unlike Dmitry who is just hoping not to embarrass himself. 
So, I find myself asking the question, is Putin trying to find another job for Medvedev instead of the job swap they have agreed on for 2012? 

You can find more photos of the pair at this great blog, FYRUPolitics.

I mentioned Russian assassins in the title. BBC online has run this story today. 

Two Chechens who were found dead by authorities in Turkey last month have been named as suspects in the January 2011 Domodedovo Airport by Russian prosecutors. 

The two were shot dead in a car park in Istanbul along with a third Chechen in September. Turkish Police stated the killer fled before he could be detained but left behind a silenced pistol amongst other things. So putting two and two together and coming up with 4, I agree with others that this was most likely a Russian hit. 

In 2006 whilst Putin was President, he had Russian legislation changed to grant him the power to order his security services and special forces to hunt down terrorists or suspected terrorists abroad. 

We can all still remember the suspected assassination of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, in an almost televised death from radiation poisoning. Litvinenko was granted asylem in the UK in 2000 and became a writer revealing a lot of secrets the Putin government wanted to hide. 

Evidence of his death pointed to Russian involvement and has lead to poor UK/Russian relations, with the British Government still calling for the extradition of the prime Russian suspect to face a murder trial in the UK. 

Finally, the NATO good will trip to Moscow I spoke about in a previous post is half way through. Russia Today has published this story today, speaking of a US offer to allow Russia to witness testing of the new missile defence shiled in Colorado and the Pacific.

This is an obvious attempt by the US to offer another bargaining chip onto the table. 
Russia appears to be standing fast on her terms though, requesting a legally binding document between the two states forbiding the use of the system on Russia. 
The Russians must also consider that viewing a test or two doesn't mean changes can't be made before the system's installation in Europe. 

What I would find ironic however, if any of the Russian officials sent to the US to witness the tests are on recent list of Russians the US Congress believe to be too unsavoury to come and go as they please.  

Also, take a look at defensetech.org, a pretty good blog with up to news on defence tech, surprisingly. 




Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Apache Indians, Russia's tactical nukes and more Tom Clancy.

"Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan."


Do you know which ex-United States Senator made this excellent observation? Shame on you if you don't, but don't worry, read on and find out.

Russian/Indian relations have taken a turn for the worse as India has again chosen Western military equipment instead of the Russian kit on offer. After Russia lost their bid to supply the Indian's with MiG-35s earlier this year, they have now lost their chance to supply an attack helicopter.
The Apache Longbow has won the bid over the Russian Mi-28. Not only is this yet again a huge loss of trade for Russia but it is also a small embarrassment. Sure, there will always be a loser in a bidding war such as this. But, the world will view India's dilema as a battle of specification and performance with the winner being the superior helo. The Apache is of course battle proven in many theatres and since 2001 it has been proving itself in a theatre very close to India.
This article from pravada.ru (a pro Russia news/propaganda site) details an interesting article. It asks the question, did the Russians realise they were selling an inferior product or did they believe they had good competition for the Longbow? I will let you read the article and decide. You can see both helos below.

Along with that article from pravada.ru, I noticed this one too. 

The American Ambassador to Russia has said last week that, in so many words, Russia stated she would consider reducing her tactical nuclear missile arsenal if an agreement on the American balistic missile defence system is reached. Thus showing a bit of leeway. 
America has often called for Russia to reduce her tactical nuke numbers and if an agreement is found on AMD (Anti-Missile Defence) then she might just oblige. 

Lets just clear up the difference between tactical nukes and strategic nukes. Tactical nukes are much smaller in size and yield and have a very small range compared with strategic nukes which are the big boys that can be launched around the world to take out cities, military installations etc. Simple, right?
Russia currently has a much larger stockpile of tactical nukes than the Americans. The reason to single out tactical nukes and not just to umbrella them under strategic nukes is that there is a possibility that they could be used in conventional warfare. This means a military force could use a tactical nuke against the oposing force knowing that strategic nukes would not necessarily be used in retaliation. The risk is there of course, but no one can by-pass Mutually Assured Destruction. So potentially they could be a very usable weapon in the modern battlefield. 
In the article, I found, are some interesting opinions from Russian military experts which I suggest you read. They include reasons as to why the Kremlin should not negotiate with tactical nukes until America pulls all of hers out of Europe. They also go back to the old NATO issue - 'NATO has a bigger military than us, therefore we need better weapons to compliment our lower personnel numbers.' Fair comment?
They speak about other ideas America has had, for example, re-locating all of Russia's tactical nukes in the Urals, so in time of war it would take them too long to transport them to be within effective range. Nice idea!
But the Kremlin is not stupid, maybe they are just using them as a bargaining tool to get ahead in the shadow of America going ahead with the AMD with or without Russia's consent. So maybe there is a plan there somewhere....Also who can forget that some tactical nukes went missing after the USSR collapsed, along with a lot of other things that were either stolen or sold from ex-Soviet states. Take a look at this article detailing Iran's acquisition of tactical nukes.


Has this photo triggered your memory yet? Well, the answer to the 'guess the quoter' question at the beginning is the man you see above. Ex-US Senator Fred Thompson is his name. Appearing here in the 1990 motion picture Hunt for Red October (here's the link to the youtube video of this great quote).

The movie was made before he was a US Senator, but the message he speaks, whilst in character of course, is still valid today.
You can also read one of my other articles here for more information on the movie and the submarine involved.

On a side note, take a look at this article with detailing state leaders salaries. You will find some quite surprising.

Of course, don't forget to join us on facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Putin reveals his big guns again, NATO are in Moscow and the second Bolei SSBN puts to sea.

Before we look at Putin's big guns, yesterday saw the sea trials commence of the second Bolei Class Russian submarine, the Alexander Nevsky. Detailed in this Russia Today article. She is the second of a proposed fleet of 8 Borei boomers. Her name originates from a Saint of the Russian Orthadox Church, who was also a military hero from the 13th Century.
The first of the Borei Class subs, the Yury Dolgorukiy, put to sea last year to begin her sea trials, and is still deployed on trials as I write, as she is not yet ready to join the Russian Pacific Fleet, which is her end goal.
The Borei class is of course a nuclear powered submarine that will replace the ageing Typhoon class as Russia's primary nuclear balistic missile sub, to be used as a nuclear deterrent or a potential first strike weapon. The Kremlin is hoping to have all 8 deployed by 2020. Slated to accompany the new Borei's is Russia's new solid fuel missile. Currently Russia is the only nation that uses liquid fuelled submarine launched balistic missiles (SLBMs) whilst other nations favour the reliability and lower cost of solid fuel. The new Bulva SLBM isnt ready yet either and so neither can be deployed without the other.
The Russian's have also proudly tested their a liquid fuelled 'Liner' missile which Russia states could penetrate the proposed American Missile Defence Shield. However, the Liner will be launched from the older Delta IV class submarines.
It seems at the minute that Russia is showing off, not only its arsenal, but it plans for the future ie. to have a modern nuclear deterent and to match any advantage the West seeks. But who's benefit is this for? China's? NATO's?
This is not a normal practice of the West however. Traditionally missiles are developed in secret, and not flaunted for the world to see. So one might worry that Russia is overtaking the West in this field, but I have no fears. Russia is just trying to show that she is still a force to be reckoned with, that she should still be respected and certainly not forgotten by NATO.

So maybe practices such as these do work as today NATO has sent a delegation to Moscow. The delegation is said to be one of good will and to keep Russia in the loop of NATO's plans for the future. This comes only days after Gadhafi's death, enabled by the UN resolution 1973 (which NATO enforced with military might much to the Kremlin's displeasure). There is also the obvious issue of the American missile defence shield proposed for Eastern Europe and of course the issue of what to do with Syria. Yesterday saw Robert Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria, packing his bags and going home, damaging diplomatic relations with Syria, if they could have been damaged any more. So are NATO trying to sweeten Russia for when another try at a UN resolution for Syria comes around. The lack of vetos seen for the Libyan resolution 1973 showed the world that the Securtiy Council can work and can get things done even in the cold shadow of genocides which have passed the Council by whilst they have remained in deadlock. We will hopefully see a reaction from the Kremlin after the 4 day NATO briefing concludes. Maybe in a different form however, to Medvedev's latest article from the Kremlin's blog.

I'm hoping that you are familiar with The Kremlin's blog.
If you havent seen the latest article then you are in for a real treat. And in case you are too scared to click on the blog, in fear or the Russians knocking at your door, I have uploaded the video from the latest article below.
So like I promised in the title of this article, Putin brings out the big guns. A mighty rally with some cracking shots. At the end of you will see that, of course, Putin decides when the game is over. Medvedev walks over for a handshake but was denied as a little reminder to us all that Putin is in charge. 

Or maybe it was the Kremlin's response to this video below of Cameron and Obama playing table tennis.


I have to say Obama is clearly the most sporty of the four with Putin a close second.

I havent blogged it yet but you can connect with the blog via facebook. The link is on the right or you can click here, or follow the blog on twitter @ColdWarContinue.

You can also read about the outgoing Typhoon class Russian Sub here in one of my other articles.
If you want to keep your eye on Kim Jong-il then I suggest you click on this link.



Monday, 24 October 2011

Russian Spies, Unlikely Couples and Putin's 80's wardrobe.

So to add to the group of recent 'Russian spies' who have been arrested on suspicion of spying on the West, over the weekend a couple have been arrested by German authorities.
Of course, none of us will forget the Anna Chapman saga, for obvious reasons seen below.


In 2010 the FBI uncovered a network of Russian spies operating on American soil, one of which was Chapman. A little while later the same story hit the UK when, Katia Zatuliveter, a 25 year old assistant to 65 year old Mike Hancock, a Member of Parliament, was also arrested for being a Russian spy. Take a look at Zatuliveter below. Another beautiful Russian.

Now take a look at Mike Hancock MP. Would it surprise you that they are accused of having an affair? Zatuliveter worked as Hancock's assistant. That meant having access to the Houses of Parliament and the Commons Defence Committee of which Hancock was a member. After, of course, she passed a 'rigorous' two month security vetting process.


So, I assume you weren't surprised that the two had an affair, they are a quite obvious match. An old, relatively unsuccessful MP, recruited a long legged Russian blonde, young enough to be his granddaughter in face, to be his aid.

Suspiciously, Hancock spent a lot of time in the Defence Committee asking questions which required answers that could only be answered after security vetting. For example, he was asking for an inventory of Britain's nuclear arsenal. A question probably put forward by Zatuliveter across a sweaty bed sheet. But that's enough talk of that.

Back to the weekend's events. Deutche Welle have produced this article covering the story, along with the usual Russia Today article that is almost mandatory on my blog. 
Apparently the detained couple have been in Germany since 1988 (KGB times), and have been using encoded radio transmissions to communicate with the East. The man works in a factory that supplies car parts and I haven't found out yet what the lady was up to. But it seems likely they dabble in a bit of industrial espionage, rather than looking for military secrets and microfilms. 
According to Deutche Welle, the SVR (the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service), runs approximately 13,000 agents on foregn soil, who are active in the areas of economy, science and technology. Also, according to a 2010 German Federal Intel report, Russia, together with China, has the biggest spy network currently in Germany.
But can you blame them, Germany has one of the best economies in the world, why not try and steal some secrets to success!  

What I do find annoying is it seems like there is a new story on this topic every week. Maybe it's just a circle of annoyance for me. The more I see the stories, the more it annoys me and the more it annoys me the more I see it. Maybe it's because of the Baader-Meinhof effect.
But spying on others is an age old practice. It began long before the Cold War and has continued long after. The media seem to love these stories of late, espeically the BBC (maybe to plug their Spy drama 'Spooks'), but they are growing tired with me now. Lets just accept that it happens-its a norm, lets accept that the James Bond movies were documentaries and remember that Putin worked for the KGB. That linked article is quite an interesting read, with a photo shared below of Putin (circled-befittingly in red) meeting Reagan (not circled) in Moscow, trying very hard to look like a tourist. All he is lacking is a map of Red Square.



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