It has taken the US military/security complex 31 years to get rid of President Reagan’s last nuclear disarmament achievement—the INF Treaty that President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev achieved in 1987.
The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was ratified by the US Senate on May 27, 1988 and became effective a few days later on June 1. Behind the scenes, I had some role in this, and as I remember what the treaty achieved was to make Europe safe from nuclear attack by Soviet short and intermediate range missiles, and to make the Soviet Union safe from US attack from short and intermediate range US nuclear missiles in Europe. By restricting nuclear weapons to ICBMs, which allowed some warning time, thus guaranteeing retaliation and non-use of nuculear weapons, the INF Treaty was regarded as reducing the risk of an American first-strike on Russia and a Russian first-strike on Europe, strikes that could be delivered by low-flying cruise missiles with next to zero warning time. Continue reading
The Russian president is removing old allies and replacing them with young loyalists, likely ensuring his leadership will continue until 2024.
After 16 years in charge, Vladimir Putin is shaking up his team to cement his control into the next decade. The 63-year-old leader is pushing aside some longtime allies and grooming young lieutenants—many of whom share his background in the security services and aren’t old enough to have worked under any other leader—to form a new generation of Kremlin leadership. One of them could even become his successor one day. Continue reading
It would perhaps be wise not to sing and dance over this story too early. Vladimir Putin likely has more tricks up his sleeve, such as continuing to undermine the US Dollar by trading oil in currencies other than the US Dollar, or continue hacking into the U.S. banking system — lest we also forget along with China threatening the nuclear option on it. If the Dollar becomes worthless, it wouldn’t matter how low the price of oil will go as America would be pushed into being a third-world nation like those in the Middle East where gasoline is still only 15 cents per gallon.
Oil has been the key to Putin’s grip on power since he took over from Boris Yeltsin in 2000, fueling a booming economy that grew 7 per cent on average from 2000 to 2008.Now, with economic growth slipping close to zero, Russia is reeling from sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union over its land grab in Ukraine, and from a ruble at a record low. Putin, whose popularity has been more than 80 per cent in polls since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March, may have less money to raise state pensions and wages, while companies hit by the sanctions also seek state aid to maintain spending.
“His ratings remain high but for a person conducting such a risky policy, Putin has to understand the limits of patience for the people, business and political elite,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist studying the country’s elite at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. “Putin is thinking hard how not to lose face while maintaining his support.”
Earlier this year, in an address delivered on the day devoted to the “defenders of the Fatherland,” the Russian president proclaimed: “Ensuring Russia has a reliable military force is the priority of our state policy. Unfortunately, the present world is far from being peaceful and safe. Long obsolete conflicts are being joined by new, but no less difficult, ones. Instability is growing in vast regions of the world.”
This is not empty talk. The rhetoric has been matched by a concurrent allocation of resources; Russia is now engaged in its largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, with major increases in defense spending budgeted each year to 2020. Putin has pushed for this program even over the objections of some within the Kremlin who worried about costs and the possible negative impact on Russian prosperity; opposition to the expansion of military spending was one of the reasons the long-serving Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin left the cabinet two years ago.
The rest of the world is taking notice. Continue reading