I posted this piece on 23 February 2008. The information it contains seems relevant to Putin’s potential to make military moves and face down NATO. Here is an extract.
My last post highlights EU naivety about Russia, where MEPs often refer to Vladimir Putin as their ‘partner’. As Gerard Batten MEP UKIP says (in the video clip in that post) in November 2007, Russia is hardly an appropriate partner for the EU, becoming, not a democracy as was until recently still hoped for, but a totalitarian dictatorship where 300 journalists have been murdered and political opponents are imprisoned. As a result the hoped for ‘partner’ is becoming something less than ideal.
The question then arises – is Russia becoming a threat?
That question breaks down into two parts – what capability for the military projection of power does Russia possess?
And second, how likely would Russia be to use what it has to gain geopolitical advantage?
A Swedish consultancy carried out a detailed survey of Russian military capability in 2005, showing how it had a conscript army capable of carrying out an internal or defensive role, combined with a professional army of about 150,000, which had the capability to be deployed on offensive operations anywhere on the Eurasian land mass.
The primary problem faced by the Russian military was to upgrade its weapons to a higher level, and in 2005 when the report was written, it was thought that it would take Russia about ten years to play catch-up to western standards of military equipment. In 2005, however, it was not foreseeable that Russia’s income would rise as fast as it has done in the last three years with high energy prices. And it was possibly not expected that Russia would spend quite such a high proportion of its government income on ‘defence’ as it is doing. Russia is spending half of all its government revenues on its military capabilities, compared with a mere 1.8% in the UK.
Russia will be increasing its output of aircraft, it claims to around 5800 planes a year by 2025 or about 15% of world output, of which a significant share will be military in nature. While pilots were frequently unable to carry out meaningful exercises three years ago, due to lack of funds, this is now certainly not the case.
Liam Fox the Conservative Shadow Secretary For Defence wrote about Russia’s growing military capability in The Times like this in July 2007 –
Two weeks ago Russia announced its intention to annex a 460,000-square mile portion of ice-covered Arctic. Scientists claim that the area, on which Russia has audaciously set its sights, may contain an estimated 10 billion tonnes of gas and oil deposits. While this ridiculous claim has no legitimate legal basis, the West must take threats like this from Russia seriously.
Russia is rivalling Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer and is estimated to have the world’s largest natural gas supplies with 1,680 trillion cubic feet – nearly twice the reserves in the next largest country, Iran. If military might and nuclear weapons formed the core of Soviet cold war power, Russian elites view its energy resources as the basis of its power now.
Russia has demonstrated that it will use its energy resources to promote a broader foreign policy agenda. This was illustrated when Russia reduced gas supplies to the Ukraine as part of a bilateral dispute and when it doubled the price of gas to Georgia in 2005.
Russia’s petrodollars are financing a $189 billion overhaul of its armed forces between now and 2015. They will purchase more than 1,000 new aircraft and helicopters, 4,000 new tanks and armoured vehicles and a new submarine fleet.
See the full article – Energy The New Cold War – HERE
When you think that the UK army has less than 400 main battle tanks, you realise that Russia’ rearmament is aiming to create a military superpower. No doubt Russia’s equipment will be of the latest and best specification, with costs of production, design etc being a small fraction of what they are in Britain.
Russia has always shown herself a highly technically capable nation when it comes to producing weapons or sending up space missions, and the amount of money being spent on weapons and their development by Russia now and in the next couple of years could well leave her able to carry out offensive campaigns by land, sea and air anywhere it wishes in the Eurasian land mass, even rivalling the firepower of the US Army, Navy and Air Force.
2008 is probably too soon for Russia to be able to carry out the kind of threat she is making to use military strength to ensure that her views over Kosovo are ‘treated with respect’, but somewhere between 2010 and 2015, the threat from Russian military power and Russia’s ability to challenge NATO will become very real.