Monday, March 27, 2017

Lavrov's Missed Message?

On March 23rd, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, spoke to  "students" (in Russian they are slushateli--listeners, a title of officers attending such institutions as General Staff Academy), officers of Russian Armed Forces, who continue their study in the Academy Of The General Staff (VAGSH). Lavrov's speech was grand in a tradition of Russian diplomacy of the past two centuries. There was a lot of Count Gorchakov in it.  It was also a very Russian speech. 

Lavrov's definition of (real) power was sharp and, without unnecessary humbleness on my part, the one I wrote about since the start of this blog (in reality much-much earlier):

Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.

Remember Correlli Barnett's definition? Definitions which real, not self-proclaimed, realists operate with. 

But, within Russia's grand vision of a new global order, which Lavrov so calmly and firmly articulated, was one point which I find to be one of the main pillars on which Russian vision is based and which concisely defines the main global trend. Here it is:

The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape.  Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.

How many times have we heard before from US "elites" that we all live in a post-industrial society? Well, we don't. We never did, in fact such a preposterous construct, courtesy of all those faux-scholars in economy, does not exist. We live in a full blown industrial world where the only currency which matters are not some balance sheets of some investment bank or brokerage firm, much of them being virtual money, but a sequence of enclosed technological cycles which spreads from extraction of resources to R&D and manufacturing of a final, often very complex, product. But this is not what was an American view of economy for the last decades. Today, we all can observe some of those, rather dramatically bad, results of living in make-believe world. Lavrov, of course, is being too... diplomatic when speaking of "becoming", there is no becoming--the rivalry simply exists and always existed. Today, in the age of internet, it is simply impossible to block and sabotage easily the values which still appeal to a majority of decent people of the "West". We saw which values deindustrialization brings, the values of an office plankton--from a mindless consumerism, lousy work ethics to a totalitarian ideologies of SJWs, ranging from promotion of sexual perversion to a destruction of a family, to mobs of tattooed pot-heads and drug junkies who are good for nothing. We also see what happens to public education in US (and Europe) which is dominated by social indoctrination at the expense of valuable social, scientific and aesthetic skills. We have too many young kids who are ready to talk about global "problems" and can not solve a simple quadratic equation or basic mechanics problem in Physics course. Wait, they do not teach Physics as a separate subject in most public schools in US. These are not "values" which work, they never did, those are "values" of decay and eventual death.

Restoration of an industrial base of any nation can not happen on the foundation, or lack thereof, of a financial capital and "values" it, together with Wall Street, promotes. Yes, one needs money to jump-start re-industrialization but at this stage it is yet to be seen if President Trump will be able to convince nominally American, in reality supranational and not bound by any interests other than own, capital to start to invests in the US. This investing may provide, now desperately needed, arresting impulse to an unfolding American catastrophe whose features, sadly, are becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day. New industrialization is not a panacea but an ultimately necessary condition under which any kind of workable new deal, a new social contract, may be worked out. This contract's pivot will be jobs, normal ones, in manufacturing, with decent pay, with decent safety net. Present system can not provide this. It is obvious that the system doesn't work anymore and it may resort, albeit Trump's presidency so far makes it less likely, to an insane last ditch attempt on "saving" itself--unleashing a major war. I can not see how it can reform. So, the choice for this system is not even a Boolean: it is to die and let new (in reality old) productive forces take its place. If not, US is doomed for steady decline and eventual disintegration--what it means in a nuclear superpower with her citizens armed to the hilt? I do not even want to contemplate. Lavrov, however, offers Russia's vision, and a hopeful one:

It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.        

In general, listen to the speech. it is a great one.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Fighter-Writer.

I remember when Jeff Ethell died. My heart wasn't in the right place all day long. He was this real American--curious, sharp, charming and...well, what Americans must be. He was first to break through to Russian Air Force in its worst decade of rot and under-funding and he did a famous PBS show Top Gun Over Moscow. It was 20 years ago. It was then that Jeff stated this seemingly obvious thing (at 2:54), things changed dramatically since then:

I still love Blue Angels, I saw them doing flybys about 100 feet from my 32nd floor office in Columbia Tower in 1993. It was magnificent (and loud, even through thick glass). Today, they will be sued for doing this since... you know, too many people will feel uncomfortable, especially those metrosexuals. But, it is always a magnificent Eddie Van Halen's solo which gets you is flying. Here are some Russian Knights on their brand new SU-30SMs in Malaysia several days ago:

But, of course, nothing beats the original;-) And yes, this damn guitar solo!!!


Russia Supplies Taliban With... Whatever.

OK, let's speak in broadsides, especially since I am not going to say anything what most of us don't know already: US (and NATO) lost the war in Afghanistan. Not a single political objective was attained there and the country (Afghanistan) remains what it was for the last 37 years--a war zone. Enter NATO's Supreme Allied Commander General Scaparrotti with yet another, completely loony, allegations that Russia is "supplying" Taliban. The immediate question is: supplying with what? Obviously, NATO's big honcho ended up not receiving the memo that Taliban is considered a terrorist organization in Russia and, unlike the United States, Russia has a superb record in fighting terrorism not playing with it. But the key to this stupefying lie is, probably, in this phrase: 

In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti said Moscow was "perhaps" supplying the Taliban. In February General John Nicholson, the US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, testified that Russia is encouraging the Taliban and providing them with diplomatic cover in a bid to undermine US influence and defeat NATO.

By now, anything coming from the top echelons of power in US and NATO, especially with such clarifications as "perhaps", "possibly" or "likely",  regarding Russia should be treated only as a case of total paranoia which makes McCarthyism tamed in comparison. But I have to return to the same question: supplying with what?  What is "encouraging", what does it describe, how is Russia "encouraging" Taliban? To do what? 

Don't expect an answer. like a Russian "Hacking", or Russians' finally disposing, in a most brutal manner, of Bambi and Minnie Mouse, there is none. US and NATO have been defeated in Afghanistan already and it will fall to Russia, who anticipated the loss of a "coalition" there as early as 2012, when discussing this scenario, to defend her own borders and clean up the mess which NATO (US) left in Afghanistan. Obviously Scaparrotti forgets how Russia helped "coalition" to fight this very Taliban. But really, who needs to remember this--US and NATO are so wonderful and great that anyone who provided a strategic help to them has to feel privileged to do so and keep their mouth shut. I think Scaparrotti and others need to take a really good course in this area's history and learn how, first, Tsarist Russia, then Bolsheviks, then Soviet Union and now modern Russia fought and continue to fight this scourge (greatly facilitated by the US) for centuries. When Commander of the Soviet 40th Army speaks openly in NYT that: 

He means it and, then again, Russia does not negotiate with terrorists but she, when needed, will contact them--to convey a message or else... But there is one very important message in all this little "presentation" by Scaparrotti to the Senate Armed Services Committee--inability to deal with reality together with a very short memory. But we knew this all along, didn't we? 

P.S. Per Russian influence growing in Afghanistan, hell, USSR has built half of Afghanistan's infrastructure, from hydroelectric dams to Kabul's Polytechnic University.      

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A "Mighty" State Of Israel.

Israel, who supports ISIS (which makes Israel a terrorist state) thinks that she can set the rules in Syria. A defining characteristic of likudniks is their delusional belief in their own superiority in... everything (reminds of anything?), even despite the fact that, realistically, Israel's renome was made by fighting grossly inadequate Arab militaries. Her both legitimate and not so much security concerns and strategies revolve around her big daddy US, whose entire foreign policy is utterly subverted by Zionist lobby and, putting it in a more down to earth language, US being this proverbial Israel's bitch. This, plus being in the pockets of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf satrapies' pockets. A dramatic change of the situation in Syria in the last two years in favor of Assad and final destruction of ISIS presents Israel with a serious challenge. So much so that she thinks, which is their MO for decades, she is smarter than everybody else and she can continue to fly missions in support of ISIS, who for Israel is a much more preferred option than secular Arab society. Especially if this society may build a competent army and start asking questions, say, about Golan Heights. 

Now Israel threatens to destroy Syria's Air Defense. The issue here, however, is this: does Netanyahu still think that Putin (Russia) is so sublime that he can continue to BS him or does he understand that Putin knows pretty much most of what Israel wants and does? As silly as it may sound, but the former is more likely than the latter. Israel's arrogance and bluster, the same as a complete lack of sense of scale and proportion, are legendary, which is a defining characteristic of culture in that area.  And here is the situation, unlike the US which does what Israel wants, Russia doesn't. What may happen, if Israel continues to do stupid things, forget if her vaunted Air Force kills accidentally (??) Russia's servicemen in Syria, is to abruptly and unexpectedly reveal to Israel (and the world) a brand new Syrian Air Defense and Air Force (wink, wink) which will operate not outdated and obsolete S-200s but something more capable which will make the "weather" over Syria very rough for flying and at this stage the only "ace" in Israel's sleeve left is her Air Force. The myth of Israel's superiority in technology and combined arms operations was completely dispelled in 2006. Obviously, one may expect the subsidiary of Israel's Knesset, US Congress, to start going apoplectic almost immediately but it wouldn't matter--Russia doesn't have AIPAC and neocon mafia and Russia's military and political history dwarfs that of Israel who, at some point of time, will have to face geopolitical realities of the 21st century and, maybe, stop BSing the nation which lost tens of millions of own citizens (including very many Soviet Jews who fought valiantly in the Red Army) in stopping, among many other atrocities, a Holocaust. Not that it wasn't known that it was BS from the get go in Syria.  Is it the time to start distributing yarmulkes at the Capitol Hill? 


Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day, A Fine... Russian Tradition;-)

I am not a church-going man but I surely could appreciate Russian Orthodox Church adding St.Patrick to the list of Russia's Saints, which seems only natural, since Russians celebrated St. Patrick's Day anyway--who would miss such an excuse for a good bloody pint. Now it is official. Moreover, because of the difference in Julian and Gregorian calendars, Russians will celebrate a glorious day.... twice. The same as Christmas. I personally find it pretty cool to celebrate Christmas twice (no presents on the second celebration, hell no!) and so goes to Saint Paddy

The Guinness (and know--things) will flow, the cabbage will be in place (after all, Russians are cabbage people too), corned beef is possible--I am sure Irish and Russians are somehow related. So, it will be fun. To everyone, Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day in Moscow. Photo courtesy RT.
Ah, time for a good cigar and a shot or.... five of good bourbon, ahem, I mean whiskey;-) 

UPDATE: yes, looks like Russians and Irish do share some things;-)

 Girls from Russia (Amur district--oblast) dancing Russian dances.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Those Are Not Ravioli. Those Are...

The evilness of Russia has now reached truly cosmic proportions. As intrepid Cassini probe just reported to Earth, Russians launched to the Saturn's orbit a deep space pelmen', like this:


Or like this: 

Do not believe NASA's rumors about that...thing being reminiscent of ravioli, it certainly is not. NASA just tries to give you a false sense of security. It is definitely Russian deep-space pelmen' being hidden at Saturn's orbit in its preparation to a sneak attack on Earth with vodka, mayonnaise, sour cream and, what is most terrifying with those absolutely deadly.... pickled cucumbers. We all are doomed! Now that Putin's evil plans have been brought to the light of day.

As Was Expected. Not Really A News.

As I reminded here, Russia proceeds with the modernization of at least some Project 949A  (Oscar II-class) SSGNs and Project 971 (Akula-class) SS(G)Ns by upgrading those with Kalibr missile complex, apart from other upgrades including new navigational complex and signal processing suite. In all, 10 subs of both classes were planned for upgrade. Probably one of the Project 945 (Sierra-class) SSNs will make the list too. So far it is known for sure that 2 Oscars are being upgraded. Plans may change, of course. But this is not the point--the point is in the practical arrival to a common sense decision both financially and operationally. 

Apart from the tragedy with sinking of K-141 Kursk  in August of 2000 and the loss of all hands, Oscars (Russian: Anteys) have a good reputation in the fleet, despite some harsh words towards this design from some experienced Russian submariners, such as Vice-Admiral Ryazantsev, who wrote (in Russian) a scathing review of Northern Fleet's combat training practices and procedures in the wake of Kursk disaster. Ryazantsev, who commanded several nuclear subs and eventually a division of those, not without justification, points out to Oscars' major drawback--these are colossal submarines, displacing 24 000 tons. Size in ASW does matter and it's always a compromise between the size of sub and its combat capabilities. 

Yet, Oscars are very silent subs and, I would assume, after undergoing deep modernization will reduce their physical fields even further. With maturing of Kalibr complex what used to be considered  Oscars' weakness becomes a serious advantage. In accordance to different sources, after modernization Oscars will be able to carry 72 missiles. This is 3 times the load when compared to Oscars' traditional 24 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) missiles.  While P-700's conventional warhead of 750 kilogram of "sea mix" is larger than about 450 kilogram warhead of anti-shipping 3M54, the difference, however, between the two is startling. Oscars will be able to carry a thoroughly modern Kalibrs in different configurations, still providing for a massive anti-shipping salvo, while carrying also a conventional (or secondary nuclear) deterrent of dozens of land-attack 3M14. This is a massive and deadly firepower. With 3M14 range of (officially) up 2500 kilometers, conventional strategic containment or, in layman's lingo--the ability to blow the shit at enemy's coast and deep inland is simply unrivaled in platform-to-platform comparison. Strategic implications of this are enormous. With upgraded Akulas getting presumably 12-14 Kalibrs each,  Russian Navy gets not only massive fire-power but a great deal of flexibility, which was delayed due to a catastrophe which befell Russia in 1990s. 

Obviously, the program of modernization of submarines of these types pursues the objective of a conventional strategic containment. Combined with a very long range cruise missiles' capabilities of Russia's Air Space Forces, these become a stabilizing factor in Russia's defense against  any kind of "democratization" or "humanitarian bombing". But behind that, what emerges or, rather, reemerges is a traditional Soviet/Russian post-WW II view on sea-denial. Russia's evolving submarine force is the same old tool from Sergei Gorshkov's tool box. In some sense it is his vision updated to the realities of the early 21st Century. Gorshkov, certainly, wanted a "balanced Navy"--a force capable of both Sea Denial and, regionally, Sea Control (Blagopriyatny Operativnyi Regime--Favorable Operational Regime). Sea Control idea at that time required a massive investment in the surface fleet with aircraft carriers being a pinnacle of such a fleet building effort. Yet, throughout this effort in 1970s and 1980s, Gorshkov never relented on a massive, in fact, highly prioritized development of submarines, long range naval aviation and cruise missile complexes they carried. Today, under new geopolitical and technological realities it becomes obvious that this was a correct accent. 

1. Aircraft carriers will inevitably devolve or, rather, transform  into a  smaller and less expensive "stability" platforms capable both of limited power projection and, most importantly, ASW. They also will work with a surface fleet in support of its SSGNs.

2. All submarines, of all major types, with the exception of SSBNs, will become cruise-anti-shipping and land-attack missile carrying platforms. They also will become (if not already) fleet's main conventional striking force both against enemy's fleet and land targets.

3. We can only try to imagine what will become of fleet once weapons such as Zircon and even faster and deadlier missiles will get on-line and this reality is not coming--it is already here. It also remains to be seen what would happen with carrier aviation with navalized versions of air-missile-defense complexes S-400, let alone S-500, being deployed to sea

As Commanders Joseph A. Gattuzo  and Lori Tanner, both carrier aviators with an immense experience, noted more than a decade and a half ago:

They saw it coming. Russian Navy knew it all along, despite ever emotional clash between submarine and carrier lobbies--yes, Russian Navy does have its own "trade unions", if to quote Elmo Zumwalt. That is what limited and precious resources do to one--give birth to a new fighting doctrines.