>– Kremlin Takes the West’s Money and Runs, Feigns Dismantling of Chemical Warfare Agents
– Putin Promotes East-West Convergence (on Communist Terms), Russia’s Accession to Eurozone, World Trade Organization
Pictured above: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of Soviet Soldiers killed during World War II in Warsaw, on December 7, 2010.
A December 7 article from Novosti implies that the Russian Navy’s ballistic missile submarines are armed with nuclear warheads as they prowl under the world’s oceans. The Kremlin-run news source quoted the engineer who designed the new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), Yuri Solomonov, as saying:
Nuclear warheads have been completed for Russia’s new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. The nuclear payload will have been completed by the time the missiles are installed in the carrier [submarine]. Four Bulava test launches will be carried out in the second half of December from the Borei-class nuclear-powered missile submarine Yury Dolgoruky.
Solomonov’s comments were originally published in the December 2010 issue of Russia’s Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defense) journal. This is not a comforting thought, especially in view of the mystery missile launch off the coast of Los Angeles last month, which some have attributed to Red China, but which the Pentagon insists was not its own.
In a late-October test, a Bulava was successfully fired from the nuclear-powered Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea, hitting a target on a test range in Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, some 6,000 kilometers to the east. This was the second successful firing in a month, following several failures.
A Kremlin source explained that the second phase of Bulava tests will start at the end of May 2011, if the remaining launches in 2010 are a success. The Bulava (NATO designation SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The Russian Navy plans to deploy Bulava on modified Project 941 and the new Project 955 Borei-class submarines. The Russian military expects the Bulava, along with the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, to become the core of Russia’s nuclear triad.
Meanwhile, according to classified US intelligence, this past spring Russia deployed tactical nuclear warheads to sites near NATO countries, prompting concern that Moscow may not in fact be committed to a new strategic arms reduction treaty. Unnamed US officials, cited by the Wall Street Journal, “say the movement of warheads to facilities bordering NATO allies appeared to run counter to pledges made by Moscow starting in 1991 to pull tactical nuclear weapons back from frontier posts and to reduce their numbers.” According to the November 30 edition of WSJ:
The U.S. has long voiced concerns about Russia’s lack of transparency when it comes to its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, believed to be many times the number possessed by the U.S.
Russia’s movement of the ground-based tactical weapons appeared to coincide with the deployment of U.S. and NATO missile-defense installations in countries bordering Russia. Moscow has long considered the U.S. missile defense buildup in Europe a challenge to Russian power, underlining deep-seated mistrust between U.S. and Russian armed forces despite improved relations between political leaders.
The Kremlin had no immediate comment.
Republican critics in the US Senate opined that President Barack Hussein Obama was hasty in agreeing to a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia (New Start), without addressing outstanding questions about Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons. “New Start,” explains WSJ, “would cap the Russian and U.S. deployed strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 per side. It doesn’t address tactical weapons, which are smaller and for use on a battlefield.” If you, like Obama, believe that the neo-Soviet leadership is committed to peace, then I have a tropical time-share in Novosibirsk to sell you.
In November, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said he raised concerns about Russian tactical weapons with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior defense officials in Washington. “Being a NATO member, of course, someone could say, ‘Don’t worry,’” fretted Azubalis. “But when you’re living in the neighborhood, you should always be more cautious. American officials expressed worry but they also don’t know too much about where the weapons are and the conditions under which they are kept.”
Senator Christopher Bond (Republican-Missouri), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, refused to comment directly on the tactical nuke issue, but acknowledged that the Russians cannot be trusted to honor arms control promises. “We know from published reports of the State Department that the Russians have cheated on all their other treaties, Start, chemical weapons, [biological weapons], Open Skies,” Bond said. No kidding.
Mistrust, says WSJ, “runs deep” between Washington and Moscow. According to US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, a February 2010 cable quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates as telling a French official that Russia is an “oligarchy run by the security services.” Two senior Obama admin officials did not deny that the tactical nuke issue has arisen in private conversations between the White House and legislators. However, they insisted that the 1991 US-Soviet pledges, known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, are “not legally binding on either side and were difficult to verify.” So what good are they? More fluff for public consumption.
In fall 1991, just before the implosion of the Soviet Union, Western estimates of the number of Moscow’s tactical nukes ranged from 12,000 to nearly 21,700. At a May 2005 conference, the Kremlin insisted that this arsenal “has been reduced by four times as compared to what the Soviet Union possessed in 1991,” and was “concentrated at central storage facilities….”
Even as they prepare for war against NATO, the Soviet strategists are carrying out their latest charm offensive along several fronts. This week, reports Voice of America, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spearheaded that offensive by completing a two-day good will visit to Poland. In 1989 Warsaw was one of the first Eastern European countries to supposedly dump communism, although the Polish United Workers’ Party continues to exercise its baleful influence in Polish politics through the Democratic Left Alliance.
Medvedev, the first Russian president to visit Poland in eight years, signed a package of economic agreements with counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski and also discussed “sensitive issues” with Prime Minister Donald Tusk. One of the issues was the investigation into the April plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, including Poland’s top generals, near the western Russian city of Smolensk.
Medvedev’s entourage was greeted by several dozen protesters holding posters that read “Smolensk: We Want the Truth.” As we have blogged before, some Polish rightists, especially those associated with the Law and Justice Party, believe the plane crash was orchestrated by the Kremlin.
However, Wojciech Borodzicz-Smolinski, who works for the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations, explains that the Smolensk crash actually improved relations between the two countries. He commented: “This significant change took place just after the Smolensk tragedy. We as Poles saw on TV the feelings that were shown by the Russian politicians and the Russians themselves, and that significantly changed the climate between our two countries.” According to Borodzicz-Smolinski, “feelings” trump the fact that the Russian and Belarusian armed forces carried out a mock nuclear attack against Poland in 2009.
Last month, Poland welcomed a declaration by the Russian State Duma, regarding the 1940 massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers in the forest of Katyn, to which President Kaczynski and his colleagues were heading. For the first time, Moscow officially admitted that the killings were carried out under the direct orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. At a press conference on Monday, Polish President Komorowski enthused: “The Duma’s declaration is very important. This is not only a new chapter in Polish-Russian relations, but a good chapter.”
For decades Russia claimed that the Nazis were responsible for the massacre. To this day, Gennady Zyuganov, chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, maintains this stance.
Medvedev’s visit coincided with WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of US diplomatic cables, some of which reveal that NATO recently devised plans to defend Poland and the Baltic states from a possible Russian attack. Aggrieved, Russia responded that “NATO was wrong to think of it as an enemy.”
Another tactic in the Kremlin’s arsenal of lies is its professed commitment to dismantling its chemical weapons. According to state-run Voice of Russia, “The first unit of a new Russian chemical weapons disposal site has just been commissioned in the Bryansk region west of Moscow. The 15 billion ruble facility, built with some help from Germany and Switzerland outside the town of Pochep, is already the sixth such plant in Russia and the biggest in Europe.”
Approximately 19 percent of the chemical warfare agents left over from the Soviet Union, or 7,500 tons, are stored at the Pochep weapons depot. The first four bombs filled with chemical agents were destroyed on November 26. In accord with the Chemical Weapons Convention, enacted in 1997, all signatories must scrap their chemical stockpiles by 2012. The Bryansk facility is the latest of many similar facilities built in Russia in the past decade.
By pretending to be a lamb, when it is in fact a lion (or bear), the neo-Soviet leadership hopes to integrate Russia into both the European Union—a Kremlin-concocted plot from the beginning— and the World Trade Organization.
On November 26, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, while conferring with business leaders and counterpart Angela Merkel in Berlin, stated he was confident that Russia will one day join the Eurozone. Putin praised the measures taken by the European Central Bank to stabilize the euro and predicted that the sovereign debt crisis will be reversed. Lifting a page from the Soviet script for “neutralizing” Europe ahead of a communist-forced East-West merger, Putin trilled: “A rapprochement between Russia and Europe is inevitable, if we want to be successful and competitive. Can we assume that Russia together with Europe will one day be in a single currency zone? I can assume that.”
In the last section of his 1984 predictive work New Lies for Old, “The Final Phase,” KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn describes the above scenario, in which German capitulationism, especially, facilitates the Soviet takeover of Western Europe.
The previous day, local newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Putin called for establishing a free trade zone between Russia and the European Union, a vision (not presently) espoused by the German government. Criticizing the dominance of the US dollar in the world economy, Putin also declared that Russia may join the WTO as early as 2011. “Not even the new single economic area that Russia is building together with Belarus and Kazakhstan will prevent this country form joining the WTO,” insisted Putin. Moscow has been pressing for WTO membership for 17 years.
Aside from a few petty differences, Putin and Merkel have much to talk about. Both spent time in Communist East Germany. In the 1980s, KGB agent Putin was stationed in Dresden, while Merkel was a secretary for “agitprop” in the ruling Socialist Unity Party’s youth section, Free German Youth.
Merkel’s father was a Lutheran clergyman who accepted a pastorate in the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s. One of Merkel’s biographers, a former colleague in the Christian Democratic Union, believes that Pastor Kasner had a “special understanding” with the red regime in East Berlin. In 1989, Angela joined the (communist-controlled) dissident group Democratic Awakening. However, Comrades Vladimir and Angela are good capitalists now.