NICOSIA. Dec 10 (Interfax) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Western partners against the unilateral recognition of independent Kosovo.
That would be a flagrant violation of international laws and cause a chain reaction in the Balkans, he said in Nicosia on Monday.
“If our partners unilaterally recognize independent Kosovo, they will fragrantly breach international laws. Russia will not breach international laws,” Lavrov said after a meeting with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.
“The unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo and the illegal recognition of that independence will naturally have consequences,” he said.
“I am positive that such steps will trigger a chain reaction in the Balkans and other regions. Everyone who has such plans must be fully aware of their responsibility,” Lavrov said.
Not so coincidentally, the Russian Navy has deployed itself in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since 1999, when NATO forced Serbia to withdraw its troops from Kosovo. Between Kosovo and the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, which extend from the Mediterranean, lies paleo-communist Albania. The Russian Navy’s flagship and sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (pictured above) is leading the exercises in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Russian naval ships complete exercise in Northern Atlantic
MOSCOW, December 10 (Itar-Tass) – Russian naval ships on Sunday held an exercise in Northern Atlantic, Captain 1st Rank Igor Dyglo, the chief press officer of the Navy told Itar-Tass.
The exercise involved a strike group consisting of the aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, the major antisubmarine ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko and auxiliary ships Sergei Ossipov and Nikolai Chiker.
During the sea passage, the group “successfully accomplished the tactical tasks that presupposed coordination with missile-carrying jets of the North Fleet and strategic jets of the Russian Air Force.”
More than ten jets were engaged in the exercise. Antisubmarine helicopters Ka-27 made sorties from aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov cruiser.
This exercise was special for the fact that the group performed the tasks in complicated weather conditions with a rough sea surge and the wind blowing at 13 meters per second to 17 meters per second.
Following completion of the program in North Atlantic, the strike group is moving to the Mediterranean where it will join ships of the Black Sea Fleet.
The North Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet are two of the four major territorial divisions of the Russian Navy. The other two are the Baltic and Pacific Fleets.
Notwithstanding the Kremlin’s saber rattling over Kosovo’s political status and the proposed deployment of Washington’s NMD assets in Poland and the Czech Republic, Moscow is assuring the West that there will be no “immediate” expansion of its forces near adjacent NATO states. However, as we have blogged before, a build-up of ground forces is not ruled out altogether. Russia’s moratorium on compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty expires tomorrow. Novosti, below, takes note of the new US-Soviet “memorandum on bilateral military cooperation and the interoperability of their respective Armed Forces for 2008.” Pravda characterized the defence cooperation protocol as “secret.”
Russia says no immediate military build up after CFE moratorium
21:55 06/ 12/ 2007
WASHINGTON, December 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will not immediately increase the strength of its Armed Forces after its unilateral moratorium on a key arms reductions treaty comes into effect on December 12, the chief of the General Staff said Thursday.
Russia’s law suspending its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty officially came into force on December 3. The moratorium itself will take effect on December 12.
“We are not going to increase the strength of our Armed Forces, let’s say, tomorrow,” Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, who is currently on a visit to the United States, told a news conference in Washington.
Moscow considers the original CFE treaty, signed in December 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members, to be discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.
Baluyevsky said the moratorium would “remove discriminatory flank limitations under the treaty,” and “untie Russia’s hands on its own territory,” as much as the CFE treaty allows NATO to freely re-deploy its forces anywhere in Europe.
Speaking about the U.S. missile shield in Europe, Baluyevsky reiterated that Russia and the United States had made no progress in talks on the subject since the October 12 meeting in a ‘2+2’ format in Moscow.
“As to missile defense, we have not moved a step out of the deadlock [in negotiations],” Baluyevsky said.
The U.S. plans to deploy a radar and a missile base in Central Europe purportedly to counter possible strikes from “rogue” states. Moscow opposes the plans saying they pose a threat to its security. Despite a series of talks on the issue, the countries have failed to reach a compromise.
“Our position is simple – let’s first make a joint assessment of potential threats before deploying a radar in the Czech Republic or missiles in Poland,” Baluyevsky said, adding that Russia could use all available expertise and capabilities to help make this assessment.
Russia has already offered the U.S. use of radar stations at Gabala in Azerbaijan, and Armavir in south Russia, as alternatives to missile shield deployment in Central Europe.
Washington said, though, it could use these radars only as additional components of the European shield.
Despite the disagreements on key European security issues, during Baluyevsky’s current visit to the U.S., Moscow and Washington signed a memorandum on bilateral military cooperation and the interoperability of their respective Armed Forces for 2008.
Russia’s Remilitarization and the Indo-Soviet Strategic Partnership
Meanwhile, Russian remilitarization under the KGB dictatorship of Vladimir Putin continues apace. “Production of armaments and military equipment in Russia has grown almost 25% in 2007,” First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov informed Russia’s military-industrial commission, founded in the old Soviet era and never scrapped. State-run Interfax reports:
“This year, production of arms and military equipment grew 23.1% compared with last year, which is almost a quarter. We will continue to increase [military production], and we have the financial resources to do this,” Ivanov said at a meeting with members of the Soviet-era military-industrial commission on Friday. The military sector has increased production by 15.6% in 2007 in compared with 2006, he said. “This is larger than the economic growth rate,” Ivanov said. The military sector increased production of aircraft by 39% and of conventional arms by 73%, he said.
The upgrading of its Strategic Missile Forces is a key component in Russia’s remilitarization. State-run Novosti reports:
“The launch of the ICBM RS-12M Topol was successfully conducted at 5:43 p.m. Moscow time [2:43 p.m. GMT] on December 8 from the Kapustin Yar testing site in the Arkhangelsk Region,” Colonel Alexander Vovk said. Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces regularly launch missiles to test their performance characteristics and decide whether they can remain in service. The ICBM Topol was last tested on October 19. The missile’s service life has been extended to 21 years, much longer than the 10 years originally intended.
At the same meeting of the military-industrial commission mentioned above, Ivanov outlined Russia’s plan for missile production: “We count on the fact that we can afford six-seven [missiles, with complexes], if we speak about RVSN [the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces] and ground strategic nuclear forces. We count on the fact that this is acceptable given real possibilities.”
Another important component in Russia’s military muscle-flexing is the development of compliant strategic partners, like India. To that end, state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport is negotiating with New Delhi over delivery of Mi-17 multirole military helicopters to the “subcontinent.” The Kremlin also intends to sells its Mi-24 helicopter gunship, which is currently in service with the Indian military, to clients in the Middle East, Latin America, and North Africa. At the same time, the Indo-Soviet joint venture BrahMos will establish a manufacturing plant in southwestern India to produce supersonic cruise missiles for the Indian army and navy. An airborne version of the BrahMos cruise missile will be installed on the Russian-built Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters operated by the Indian Air Force. Finally, Sukhoi disclosed last week, flight tests of a fifth-generation Indo-Soviet fighter will begin in 2009 and mass production of the aircraft could start by 2015. “India and Russia have a long history of military cooperation, going back almost half a century,” Novosti observes. This is a fact that does not bode well for any attempt by Washington to develop friendly relations with New Delhi, such as the USA’s commitment to support India’s nuclear energy program.