Roger Scruton defines Western Civilization in these words:"The roots of Western civilization lie in the religion of Israel, the culture of Greece, and the law of Rome, and the resulting synthesis has flourished and decayed in a thousand ways during the two millennia which followed the death of Christ"(c)
Well, Western Civilization is Christian Civilization first and foremost. I, being an atheist, albeit of Oriana Fallaci's type, which she called Christian Atheist, understand clearly the roots of many things which I love and treasure in my life. In the end, it was Christianity which created a framework in which Western culture could flourish, including the science which, in many respects, spelled the doom to many Christian doctrines. It certainly demolished purely evangelical world-view. Yet, the message of Christ endures and so does morality which fights a desperate rear-guard battle for preserving what is left today of Western Civilization. It is the last bastion which separates our civilization from chaos and decay of gutless, self-centered world without any enduring and necessary inhibitors with which humanity managed to survive so far.
By celebrating Christmas we celebrate Western Civilization, this is especially true today and, being an atheist, today I am a christian in a full cultural sense that transcends the limits of scriptures. This day my thoughts are with persecuted Christian people of the Middle East, they are also with all decent, honest, hard working people who quietly live by 9 Commandments (unless we are talking Walter Sobchak types, if you get my drift;-). So, Merry Christmas, my friends, and let us hope that we will kick evil's ass and we should.
Now to the Christmas presents. They are mostly for Russian Navy.
1. Two Project 22800 Karakurt missile corvettes were laid at Pella shipyard in St. Petersburg.
These ships named Uragan and Typhoon are two first ships of what is promised to be 18 ships class. Displacing 800 tons they are more sea-worthy than notorious Byan platforms and, of course, are carriers of no less notorious Kalibr and Onyx missiles. First two hulls, as it seems now, will carry no missile Air Defense complex, albeit further ships in class will carry what is known today as navalized version of Pantsir gun-missile AD system, which will give these ships a very respectable close-range (18-20 km) air defense capability.
All this is not good news for US Navy and its, especially so, Littoral community. For US Navy, which became a hostage of sorts of its own magnificent and, arguably, unrivaled combat history which is dominated by large combatants (traveling 1 st Class, remember?), the whole notion of a 800-ton ship outgunning, in missile exchange, its own much larger and much too expensive combatants is anathema. Russian Navy will network these ships, making Russia's littoral impenetrable and will deploy these ships, in a good ol' Soviet tradition of 5th Operational Squadron, to Mediterranean, either as a part of Ship Strike Group (KUG) centered around larger combatants with vastly superior ASW and AD, or as an autonomous group. It is clear, however, that such a platform, albeit with "degraded" electronics and sensor suite has an enormous export potential, thus opening the door to export versions of Kalibr and Onyx missiles. This could be a game changer in many littorals, especially of the nations which do have some semblance of real air forces and AD systems.
2. A very important news: Northern Shipyard (Severnay Verf) has started a massive modernization program.
The centerpiece of this program is a brand new dry dock with the length of....400 meters. That means only one thing--aircraft carrier(s). Will the time be right for Russian carriers by 2020-2022? I am not in a position to judge but there never were doubts about Russia's blue water aspirations. We'll see. Judging by the tone of news, most of the programs for Russian Navy seem to be financed in full.