Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

A story in 3 maps: EU and NATO push and Russia pushes back

March 19, 2014

It is the play of simple geopolitical forces which itself is based on the drawing of lines on maps. The creeping expansion eastwards of the EU and NATO has given little thought to the response it must inevitably invite. I put much of the Ukrainian crisis down to the thoughtless behaviour of the EU. That behaviour itself is inevitable given that foreign policy in the EU is driven by a confused mix of 28 countries and by the insatiable bureaucratic hunger in Brussels for an ever-increasing bureaucracy by including ever-more countries into the pot (providing that they are non-muslim). The rush to expansion is – in part – the reason why the EU is mired for so long in the financial crisis. With 28 countries involved policy is often clumsy and heavy-handed with little place for nuance and diplomatic skill.

The current breaking point was reached when the EU (aiding and abeting the US in the expansion of NATO) clumsily encouraged internal dissent in the Ukraine and activated the far-right, neo-Nazi forces. Did they really expect no response? And does the EU really want to be associated with the neo- Nazis of Ukraine who are carrying on their traditions from the 1940’s? I think it was the rise of the neo-Nazis as the final straw which Russia found unacceptable. I find the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU a travesty and only confirms that the Peace Prize tarnishes the Nobel brand.

Today the response is in the Crimea. Logically, the EU and NATO expansion pressure will invite Russia to exercise even more control over the Eastern Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan.

1. Expansion of the EU.

2. Expansion of Nato

nato expansion (image mike faille)

nato expansion (image mike faille)

3. Where will Russia push-back?

where next for Russia

where next for Russia

Crimea: Hypocrisy when the US and the West attack a democratic referendum

March 17, 2014

Personally I do not believe in referenda as a sustainable democratic method. If all decisions were taken to referenda we would essentially have an anarchy. But the use of referenda – occasionally but often not with great circumspection – has become a common practice in so-called democratic countries whenever an administration finds itself at odds with the great unwashed electorate and at risk of losing an election.

The Crimea has no great tradition or history as a part of Ukraine. It was merely attached to Ukraine in 1954 for administrative and prestige purposes during Khrushchev’s time. I find the developments in the Crimea are now showing up the double standards that always apply in international “diplomacy” in a very clear and sharp light. It is always a case of “do as I say” and never of “do as I do”.

There is little doubt that the Crimean referendum yesterday reflects the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants of that autonomous territory. The Tartars and the Ukrainians living in the Crimea largely boycotted the vote. But it was a direct vote on a simple question. It is being criticised for being illegal and unconstitutional by Obama and the EU and the “West”. But it cannot be criticised for being undemocratic. The claim that it was unconstitutional is a little weird since the current administration in Kiev can hardly be called constitutional. At best one could say that neither the acting government in Kiev (which is not an elected government any more) nor the referendum are in line with the currently suspended Ukrainian constitution.

EU Ministers are rushing to condemn the referendum – but they are careful to quote issues of legality and constitutional impropriety. They are careful not to call the referendum undemocratic. Hague and Cameron particularly show up as being triple-tongued and double-faced. The Crimea – under the Ukrainian constitution – had more autonomy than Scotland has in the UK. How then is a referendum in Scotland on independence acceptable but a referendum in the Crimea is not?  Hague claims that the referendum makes a “mockery of democracy” but that is an intellectually bankrupt statement. He might as well call for all of the UK to vote in Scotland’s referendum for that referendum not also to be a mockery of Democracy. David Cameron is struggling to balance between offering a referendum on EU membership and yet making it a vote which has no possibility of the UK leaving the EU. Democracy will not apply if the vote is “No” to membership. The electorate wants a referendum, so he offers them one. But the UK Parliament – which has surrendered many of its powers to Europe – is loth to allow the unwashed electorate any such power.

The reality today is that almost all “democratic” countries use voting systems which are nowhere near as direct or as represntative of an electorate’s wishes as a refrendum. The US Presidential elections with its electoral college is a case in point. Party democracies in Europe are extremely indirect reflections of the wishes of the electorate. It is political parties which control the names on the party lists. The broad electorate only chooses a Party, and the Party hierarchy and membership usually choose the representatives. The manner in which names enter the Party lists is hardly democratic. European countries which practice proportional representation have a quite “undemocratic” representation in their Parliaments. Extreme minorities have a disproportionately large presence in Parliaments.

There is a lot of noise and bluster from Obama and Kerry and all the EU politicians. But it is the imprudent wooing of Ukraine by the EU and US meddling which has created the current crisis in Ukraine. It is their indiscriminate support of any opposition (just as in Syria) which has allowed the advance of the violent far-right neo Nazis.

I also note that while Obama’s popularity is at an all-time low of 41%, Vladimir Putin’s popularity is at an all-time high of over 70%. And democracy, after all, is just a popularity contest. But the simple fact is that most of the Crimea would prefer to be with Russia than with Ukraine. Obama and his friends may call it illegal and unconstitutional but the Crimean vote yesterday was totally democratic.

Muddled EU and an indecisive US help Russia emerge from the Cold War doldrums

March 9, 2014

The Soviet Union was dissolved 23 years ago. The experiment of exporting and imposing the Russian vision of socialism on 14 other countries had collapsed in spectacular fashion. It was a resounding victory for Ronald Reagan, Rambo, Capitalism, Democracy and “Western” values – in that order. The 15 post Soviet countries were then Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Countries within their influence but not part of the Soviet Union broke free and looked to find a new place in the growing and expansionist European Union. Czechoslavakia split. Yugoslavia fractured into many pieces. And Europe picked up the pieces. On the back of their economic problems and the dissolution of their Empire, Russia had no diplomatic clout left to speak of. They did inherit the Soviet seat on the Security Council along with its veto and that kept them at the big table if rather ineffective.

But all that is beginning to change. There is a long way to go but with its wealth of resources the Russian economy is beginning to recover. There is a resurgence of Russian diplomacy. Russian diplomats are beginning to have opinions on all matters of substance. They are aided and abeted by a muddled and meddlesome EU together with an indecisive and risk-averse President in the US.

In foreign as with economic policy the EU is a place of very many voices. Some members are looking to create a successor to the Holy Roman Empire with a Holy European Empire. Others are looking to create the United States of Europe. Some want in for the benefits but want out of the costs. But rather than being a place for the dissemination of best practices it has become a hodge-podge where the lowest common denominator applies. They claim to share the same “values” of equality and freedom but none of them like dirty gypsies from Romania. The European Parliament and the European commission add layers of fairly useless politicians and bureaucrats. If only there had been a rule that every sinecure created at the European level would have been accompanied by a reduction at a country level! Radicalised youth in the EU now provide cannon fodder for many conflicts around the world. On all possible sides. The UK and France provide psychopathic young muslims to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. French and German and Swedish skinheads travel to the Ukraine to support the neo-nazi Right Sector.

With so many countries in the EU it is not too surprising that they get confused. A referendum in the Crimea is illegal but a referendum in Scotland is OK. They have been fooled into supporting miltant islamists in Syria and have handed the opposition into the control of Al Qaida. They have tried to meddle in the Ukraine and only succeeded in building up the neo-nazi Right Sector and in provoking Russia to enter the Crimea ostensibly to support the Russian origin population. One Swedish politician today suggested implementing a fast track entry for the Ukraine into the EU “as a signal to the Russians”. Little people trying to be politicians on the world stage. With 28 member states and 8 more in the wings, with a full range of political opinions in each country, it is hardly surprising that what emerges as policy, from the attempt to be balanced, borders on idiocy. Meanwhile the US is tired of its expensive adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan which have achieved very little. President Obama is looking to disengage wherever he can. To take on new risk is anathema. In Syria, Obama kept re-drawing red lines, and kept retreating behind them. That proxy war is being won by the Assad regime supported by Russia. The US and the EU no longer know who they support – or should support –  in Syria.

Syria and the Ukraine are just examples. A confused EU together with an indecisive US are providing the Russians with opportunities to test their diplomatic skills and to test the resolve of the EU and the US.

And judging by the results so far, neither the US nor the EU has a sticking point. There is not a leader in sight.

Obama’s “promotion of democracy” leads to de facto support for Al Qaida in Syria and Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

March 1, 2014

Obama will go down in history as a follower rather than a leader, let alone the “leader of the free world”.

I have a theory that Obama’s indecision, his dithering and his aversion to risk of any kind has led to his actually supporting Al Qaida in Syria and is now leading him to help Neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. All in the name of promoting “democracy”. A quick strike in Syria was never on the cards in spite of all Obama’s bluster. He is incapable of taking any actions with such associated risk. Instead he supported the arming of rebel groups which are now being dominated by Al Qaida. His best option now – paradoxically – is that Assad manages to keep Al Qaida at bay. Remarkably the best chances for a real  “democracy” – eventually –  is now with Assad in power such that Al Qaida does not prevail. (And the example of “democracy promotion” leading to the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt should not be so soon forgotten. The Egypt with Sissi is not so different from Mubarak’s Egypt).

After Helping Arm Al Qaeda In Syria, US Government Says Al Qaeda In Syria A Threat To US

….. The Syrian Civil War is the epitome of a conflict that has no US national interest involved – neither side is allied with the United States nor is likely to ever be nor is there any vital security or even economic interest at stake.

But despite this total lack of relevance to the American people and country, the Obama Administration tried to enter the war. First there was an attempt to pretend the Assad government was a threat to the United States because it had chemical weapons, but then Assad agreed to remove the weapons. So then President Obama bypassed an American law to prevent arming terrorists to arm the “moderate” rebels within Syria.

Not long after Obama dodged the anti-terrorist law, the Al Qaeda faction of the Syrian rebels was in possession of the weapons Obama sent to Syria. So yes, after refusing to follow a law that was supposed to prevent arming terrorists, Obama ended up arming terrorists. Abysmally stupid does not even begin to describe this policy.

Now the supposedly “democratic” movement in Ukraine is being taken over by the Neo-Nazis. Obama is blustering again against Russia and the inevitable Russian intervention in the Crimea. He threatens that any Russian intervention will have “costs” – whatever that means. It is in part the US meddling in the Ukraine – ostensibly to promote “democracy” which has advantaged the Neo-Nazis and brought the Ukraine to where it is.

The Neo-Nazis of Ukraine

Reality on the ground in Ukraine contradicts the incompetent and immoral Obama regime’s portrait of Ukrainian democracy on the march.

To the extent that government exists in post-coup Ukraine, it is laws dictated by gun and threat wielding thugs of the neo-Nazi, Russophobic, ultra-nationalist, right-wing parties. Watch the video of the armed thug, Aleksandr Muzychko, who boosts of killing Russian soldiers in  Chechnya, dictating to the Rovno regional parliament a grant of apartments to families of protesters.

Read about the neo-nazis intimidating the Central Election Commission in order to secure rule and personnel changes in order to favor the ultra-right in the forthcoming elections.  Thug Aleksandr Shevchenko informed the CEC that armed activists will remain in CEC offices in order to make certain that the election is not rigged against the neo-nazis.  What he means, of course, is the armed thugs will make sure the neo-nazis win.  If the neo-nazis don’t win, the chances are high that they will take power regardless.

The Russians are already talking about another battle against the Nazis. It seems inevitable that Russia will now ensure its own influence in the Crimea with troops on the ground (even if they bear no Russian insignia). With 60% of the Crimean population being Russian (with 24% being Ukrainian and 12% being Tartars) there is little doubt that Russia will “respond” to calls for help from the Russian population and are already doing so. And once again – paradoxically – it could be Russian intervention in the Crimea which turns out to be the best defense against Neo-nazis exploting the US and Obama’s “promotion of democracy”.

NewsInfo: The newly-chosen prime minister of the Ukrainian southern region of Crimea on Saturday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to help restore “peace and calm” to the Black Sea peninsula, amid a standoff with the new authorities in Kiev.

Crimea (Google Maps)

Crimea (Google Maps)

Nuland rant indicates heavy US advice to (or direction of) Ukraine opposition

February 7, 2014

For once it was not the NSA bugging some European leader. Presumably it was the Russians bugging US diplomats. Victoria Nuland the US diplomat for European and Eurasian affairs reportedly said ‘Fuck the EU’ while speaking of the Ukraine crisis with the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. 

Марионетки Майдана

I will not be surprised if this recording disappears from You Tube if the US applies pressure – through the horse has bolted.

The US like many others may be frustrated with the EU but what is fairly clear is that the US is very actively advising – if not directing – the Ukraine opposition.The modern version of the Great Game being played out in Syria and Ukraine.

BBC: A voice resembling that of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland refers to the EU using a graphic swear word, in a conversation apparently with to the US ambassador to Ukraine. The US said Ms Nuland had “apologised for these reported comments”.

The EU and US are involved in talks to end months of unrest in Ukraine. …. 

Russia has been widely accused of intervening in Ukraine, using its economic clout to persuade Mr Yanukovych to abandon closer ties with Brussels. Russia has itself accused Washington and the EU of meddling in Ukraine. 

The 4min 10sec video was entitled “Maidan’s puppets” in Russian – a reference to the square in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where pro-EU protests have been held for months. A transcription of the whole conversation was also posted in Russian.

At one point, the female speaker mentions the UN and its possible role in trying to find a solution to the Ukraine stand-off.

She says: “So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the UN help glue it and you know…” she then uses the graphic swear word about the EU.

The male replies: “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.”

The two officials also discuss frankly the merits of the three main Ukrainian opposition leaders – Vitaly Klitschko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Oleh Tyahnybok.

Putin’s Sochi is “ready” but journalists are missing their basic luxuries!

February 5, 2014

Putin’s winter games open in Sochi on Friday and journalists have started arriving. But Putin is probably a little indignant that they are nowhere near as hardy as he is and expect all manner of luxuries ranging from

View image on Twitter

Twitter image Harry Reekie @CNN

  • one room per person (Putinities can manage with 11/room)
  • curtains
  • toilet paper
  • heating
  • internet
  • elevators that work
  • running water
  • hotel lobbies
  • reception desk
  • water safe to wash in
  • water safe to drink
  • flooring
View image on Twitter

Twitter image @wyshynski

ReutersRussian officials have declared Sochi ready for the Games, on which President Vladimir Putin has staked his and his country’s reputation. But days before they open on Friday, the organizers acknowledge that not all the new hotels are ready, despite the Games’ $50-billion price tag. ……. 

macho putin

Although no athletes are affected, officials from two countries said they were turned away when they arrived at night in Krasnaya Polyana because their hotels were not ready. They too have been temporarily moved elsewhere.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged the Russian organizers to sort out the problems quickly and says only about three percent of the newly built accommodation – around 700 rooms – are not ready for guests.

Macho Putin is not impressed by these namby-pamby types. 

Related posts:

Sochi Winter Olympics: Champions of Corruption

Economic model predicts Olympic medals at 2014 Sochi winter games

Sochi Winter Olympics: Champions of Corruption

January 28, 2014

A new site defines the Champions of Corruption at the Sochi Winter Games.

The site asserts:

sochi champions of corruption

Athletes are not the only people who compete in Sochi. Officials and businessmen also took part in the Games and turned them into a source of income. The Anti-Corruption Foundation honored the most distinguished money siphoners in five different sports

Classic Embezzlement, Arkady Rotenberg  

Verbal Freestyle, Vladimir Putin 

Ecological Multi-Sport, Vladimir Yakunin 

Pair Contract, Alexander Tkachyov and Roman Batalov 

Figure Lending, Vladimir Potanin

The site is ostensibly anti-corruption but the objectives are clearly political:

The AustralianAlexei Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who ran for mayor of Moscow last September, has used the site to combine data gathered during his own investigations with media accounts and other activists’ reports. According to Mr Navalny’s Encyclopaedia of Spending, the athletes are not the only people who compete: “Officials and businessmen also took part in the Games and turned them into a source of income.”

His site honours five “champions of corruption”, including President Vladimir Putin, who is accused of lying about the cost of the project when he claimed it was $US6.5 billion. Mr Putin has rejected the claims.

Shale gas potential delays new natural gas pieline under the Baltic

November 19, 2013

It will be slower than in the US, but shale gas will also be a game changer in Europe. Even though Russia has huge reserves of shale gas and shale oil, they would also prefer that the transition to shale gas should not go too fast. They have so much invested in the Natural Gas infrastructure that they need to keep the sales of natural gas going to ensure a return. Gazprom has the enviable dilemma of protecting an existing revenue stream by preventing the too rapid establishment of another revenue stream. One problem for Gazprom of course is that shale gas is much more widespread across Europe and their virtual monopoly with Siberian natural gas will be threatened.

In any case the energy scene is changing fast and the planned investment in additional gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany have been delayed by Nord Stream.

Swedish Radio News: The gas pipeline consortium Nord Stream are delaying their plans for one or two more pipelines under the Baltic Sea. According to Nord Stream’s adviser, Lars Grönstedt, the shareholders want further analyses of the rapidly changing energy market. 

The USA has quickly become almost self-sufficient in energy because of its own shale gas , and it has led to Europe buying more cheap coal than before. “I can not comment directly on the shareholders’ deliberations. But I can guess that since gas has changed to such an extent just the last twelve months , it needs some deeper analysis” says Lars Grönstedt. 

Nord Stream pipeline image

Nord Stream’s current pipeline has two channels extending from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany under the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe.  

Nord Stream had planned to add one or two further gas pipes and held public information meetings last spring –  including on Gotland. It is a project that is expected to cost about $9 billion, and in Sweden alone could create some two hundred jobs during construction. 

Nord Stream’s shareholders, five European energy companies , including Russia’s Gazprom , have postponed these plans. The changes in the energy market as Lars Grönstedt mention, are due in part to America’s increased shale gas . 

I suspect that Gazprom’s best way of maximising revenues is by holding up current natural gas prices but not so high that the development of shale gas is accelerated and not so high that gas users shift to coal (as the large utilities are doing in Germany). A delicate calculation and which would require a slow development of their gas distribution pipelines.

But for the private consumers, the lowest cost would be if shale gas development was speeded up.


Assad’s gambit but is it Putin’s end-game being played out in Syria?

November 10, 2013

The Hindu carries an interesting editorial on Assad’s Gambit:

In extending his cooperation to the OPCW – which has until June 2014 to oversee the elimination of Syria’s chemical stockpile – President Bashar al-Assad has signalled his indispensability to a diplomatic settlement. Mr. Assad has underlined that not only is he in control but he is also willing to make tactical concessions. The odds are now stacked heavily against the Syrian rebels. After the United States shelved its plan to intervene militarily, opposition groups have had to reconcile themselves to the option of sharing power with Damascus. That al-Qaeda and other terror outfits have infiltrated the rebels’ ranks has also substantially diminished the support they initially received from the West. Not surprisingly, many of the rebel factions have expressed their reluctance to participate in the “Geneva 2” diplomatic conference scheduled for later this year. Mr. Assad, on the other hand, has made the Syrian government’s participation contingent on his being allowed to complete a full term in office.

Paradoxically it is the destruction of his chemical weapons which has made Assad an indispensable part of the solution. If it was one of the rebel groups (Al Qaida or a group supported by Turkey or by Iran or by Saudi Arabia or by the Kurds or by the Muslim Brotherhood) which actually did use the chemical weapons (Sarin gas) in September, then their ploy has misfired spectacularly. If it was Assad’s forces which released the gas (whether with or without his knowledge), it has certainly brought matters to a head and – also spectacularly –  shifted the course of this civil war. Syrian Opposition became “armed rebels” and are now equated with “terrorists”. From being about Assad’s repression and justified opposition the conflict is being transformed to Assad versus the terrorists.

Keeping score in the Great Syria Chess Game is not easy and when the chemical inspectors were called in I wrote

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov are winning. The diplomatic path is now their creation. Suddenly Russia is the peace-maker in the face of US war-mongering! Not only was the US strike on their ally delayed indefinitely, it is now Assad’s Syria – and not the various opposition groups – which is required to engage with the international community. Any opposition forces who seem to be coming in the way of inspecting or securing control of the chemical weapons can now be attacked by Assad with the full support of the international community. Russia can continue supplying Syria with conventional weapons. ….

Bashar al-Assad is winning. He does not really need chemical weapons which cannot effectively be used anyway. Any US strike on his forces is postponed indefinitely. With no prospect of any no-fly zone being declared his air-force could be decisive in the civil war. The supply of conventional weapons from Russia is assured. His claim that rebels and terrorists were responsible for the use of Sarin is backed up by Russia and the UN weapons inspectors have no option but to investigate this (and they are on their way back to Syria).

But I think the Hindu is wrong to think that it is merely the infiltration of rebel groups by Al Qaida which has damaged their support from the West. The point is that the rebel groups supported and supplied by so many surrounding countries are not a home-grown opposition but are essentially a collection of mercenary groups fighting proxy wars for many players. Saudi Arabia and Turkey in particular were and are heavily involved – and may even have been instrumental in starting the armed conflict. Now of course Iran and the Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood are providing succour and support for their pet groups. Al Qaida has its fighters from all over the region (and from radicalised youth in the West) trying to attain eternal salvation through martyrdom. The EU and the US supply arms through third parties to a variety of the rebel groups – and it often seems they have no idea who the arms are going to. Russia supplies Assad. Israel no doubt stirs the pot whenever it can and using whichever faction is available to maintain the turmoil.

As Aron Lund writes in his report,Divided they Stand” An Overview of Syria’s Political Opposition Factions

The opposition landscape is so fragmented and disconnected, that there is little clarity even among activists themselves about what groups and coalitions are truly effective or enjoy popular support. ….

While it is unlikely that any of today’s political opposition groups will control the future Syria, they are likely to play a significant role in a future transition phase or reconciliation process. Regardless of who rules Syria in the future – the current regime, breakaway elite factions, a government installed with foreign backing, or armed rebels – they will need to connect with the political opposition to legitimize their own position.

Assad’s Gambit may be paying off but it is just a few moves within the Putin initiated defence. Whether the Putin defence also has an end-game in mind is as yet difficult to discern. It may just lead to a stalemate and a long drawn-out conflict. It may lead – in the best scenario – to a gradual political transition where Assad has an “honourable” discharge and exile waiting for him sometime late next year.

There are no longer any outright victories in sight in this multi-dimensional chess game where the rules keep changing. But if there is any overall direction to this end-game it is probably coming from Putin and Lavrov. Whether Obama and Kerry are playing the game, or are just bystanders providing infrastructure for the playing of the game remains to be seen. The EU is almost as divided as the Syrian opposition and are very good at mouthing platitudes. The dilemma that the US and the EU face is that support for secular forces in Syria is inevitably support for Assad. Support for any armed rebel group is also support for Islamist jihadists.

India conducts joint military exercises with Russia and with China

November 5, 2013

I suppose there is no better way to follow Sun Tzu’s advice to “know your enemy” than to conduct joint military exercise with potential enemies.

  • “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” 
  • “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 
  • “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” 
     Sun Tzu

There are many potential scenarios which could involve armed conflict between India and China but fewer which would involve conflict between India and Russia. Scenarios in which India cooperates with Russia or China in some military adventures are also not impossible. “Terrorists” make for good common enemies. China would love to label the Dalai Lama as a “terrorist” but this would be unthinkable in India. India labels some “rebel” groups in the North east as “terrorists” but the Chinese prefer to stay on the fence. Both India and Russia dislike “terrorists” in Afghanistan but may not see entirely eye-to-eye on who is a “terrorist” and who is a “freedom fighter”.

Of course Russia is a major equipment supplier to the Indian military and exercises with the Russian military using similar equipment could be of great benefit for India. I suspect the military exercises with China have far greater political and intelligence objectives – for both participants – than the development of any protocols for military cooperation.

The Russian exercise was carried out at the end of last month as part of the Indra series (Indra 13). This was the sixth exercise since 2005.

Desert Storm: Tanks, helicopters and troops practice the art of war in Bikaner during ‘live fire’ Indian-Russian military exercise

25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 00:12 GMT, 26 October 2013
Elite detachments of the Russian and Indian armies concluded combat activities of ‘Indra-13’ exercise on Friday.

The exercises were conducted in the midst of references about raids of the type ‘which got Osama’ in a terrain ‘not dissimilar to that in Afghanistan’.  Held in the semi-desert conditions in Rajasthan’s Mahajan Field Firing Range, the combat exercise witnessed the participation of an array of armoured and mechanised forces. 

Storming the sand: The Indra-13 exercise in Rajasthan saw live firing by T-72 tanks

Storming the sand: The Indra-13 exercise in Rajasthan saw live firing by T-72 tanks – Daily Mail

Operating for the last seven days, both the armies jointly plotted taking control of rebel-held territories, neutralising leaders and destruction of camps in a ‘newly born nation torn apart by strife’.

Towards this, live firing was carried out by T-72 tanks, BMP infantry combat vehicles, attack helicopters and other small arms. 

Both sides pitched a complement of 250 officers and men each in which the Russians were represented by their 11 Airborne Battalion and Indians by 6 Independent Armoured Brigade. 

Despite the exercise focussing on armoured and mechanised warfare, the Russians came without any such assets, under a pre-decided arrangement. 

They were then provided Indian equipment to use for the exercise. …….

The military equipment supplied by Russia to India is, I expect, a shade less advanced than their own equipment in performance and in specifications. Which could explain why the Russians did not bring their own – more advanced – equipment to India for the exercise. Or perhaps I am being too cynical?

There was serious border tension between India and China  earlier this year with incursions by both into the other’s claimed territory. And so the 10 day military exercise just starting in China is the first in 5 years and has more significance (real and symbolic) than usual.

With focus on terrorism, India-China begin joint military drills

November 6, 2013

India and China on Tuesday began a 10-day joint military drill on counterterrorism — the first such exercise between the neighbours in five years — in southwestern China, with around 300 soldiers from both countries taking part in exercises aimed at boosting trust between the militaries.

The drills began on Tuesday morning in Miaoergang, a town southwest of Chengdu — the provincial capital of the western Sichuan province — with displays of Kungfu by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contingent and the Gatka martial art, from Punjab, by Indian soldiers. Soldiers also conducted weapons displays with the objective of allowing the other side to become more familiar with the characteristics of weaponry used across the border.

Over the next 10 days, the two contingents — comprising around 160 soldiers each, according to Indian officials, from the 16 Sikh Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion Infantry division of the PLA — will conduct counter-terrorism drills involving tactical hand signals, arrest and escort, hostage rescue, joint attacks and “a comprehensive anti-terror combat drill”, the Chinese State-run Xinhua news agency said.

The drills — the first held in five years — take place only a week after both countries signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to expand confidence-building measures.

Chengdu is the headquarters of one of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) seven Military Area Commands (MACs). The Chengdu MAC holds responsibility for the entire Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the middle and eastern sections of the border with India.

The drills, analysts say, are more symbolic than substantial: the counterterrorism drills are nowhere near as comprehensive as a full-fledged exercise between two armies. The larger objective is to expand confidence and trust between two militaries, which are often grappling with tensions along the border.

At the same time, the 10-day counterterrorism drill has been seen as being particularly significant in China for two reasons. For one, the exercise follows the recent signing of the BDCA during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in late October.

Also, the issue of terrorism has come under renewed attention in China in recent days, after last week’s incident in Tiananmen Square where a jeep carrying three Uighurs from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region drove into a crowd, killing two tourists and injuring 40 others. ….. 

Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, leader of the Indian Army observer group, speaks at the inauguration of the India-China joint military drill on counterterrorism at Miaoergang, near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: PIB

Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, leader of the Indian Army observer group, speaks at the inauguration of the India-China joint military drill on counterterrorism at Miaoergang, near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: PIB


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