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From the timesonline.co.uk
Russia flexed its muscles in America’s backyard yesterday as it sent one of its largest warships to join military exercises in the Caribbean. The nuclear-powered flagship Peter the Great set off for Venezuela with the submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels in the first Russian naval mission in Latin America since the end of the Cold War.

The voyage to join the Venezuelan Navy for manoeuvres came only days after Russian strategic nuclear bombers made their first visit to the country. Hugo Chávez, the President, said then that the arrival of the strike force was a warning to the US. The vehemently antiAmerican Venezuelan leader is due to visit Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian President, in Moscow this week as part of a tour that includes visits to Cuba and China.

Pavel Felgengauer, a leading Russian defence expert, told The Times: “It’s to show the flag and the finger to the United States.

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From the cosmosmagazine.com article:
Don’t be mistaken, this is no Space Shuttle. This is the Buran, product of Soviet suspicion, ingenuity and scant funds; and doomed to failure.

IN THE EARLY 1970S, at the height of the Cold War, Soviet space officials cast a concerned eye towards NASA’s new Space Shuttle Program. From all they could tell, it looked like an expensive boondoggle, so why on Earth were the Americans planning to pour so much money into it?

“They figured there were other reasons for doing this,” they just didn’t know what they were, says Asif Siddiqi, a historian of the Soviet space program at Fordham University, in New York City.

Roger Launius agrees. Chair of Space History at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, he thinks the Soviet reasoning probably went like this: the Americans have either lost their minds; or know something we don’t; therefore we’d better find out what it is by building our own one.

The great fear, of course, was that the ‘something’ was military. And so the Soviets embarked on the most ambitious space program they ever attempted. It was a mad, money-sucking plan that included not only the Soviet shuttle, called the Buran (Russian for snowstorm or blizzard), but an expanded military presence in space, including what Siddiqi describes as, “laser battle stations and all kinds of crazy things.”

The program would never succeed in launching a human into space, and today, the abortive shuttles and their prototypes are scattered around the globe. So for all the billions it siphoned from the struggling Soviet economy, the program can only be described as a masterful failure.

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From the timesonline.co.uk article:
The Kremlin ordered a sharp increase in defence spending today but insisted that Russia was not on a path to war with the United States.

Alexander Yakovenko, the Deputy Foreign Minister, ruled out military conflict with Russia’s former Cold War adversary. He also called on the European Union, rather than Nato, to act as guarantors of Georgia’s security after last month’s war.

“Regarding the possibility of war between the United States and Russia, this possibility is ruled out,” Mr Yakovenko told reporters in Moscow.

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From the timesonline.co.uk article:
Russia snubbed its nose at the United States today by announcing plans to sell military equipment to both Iran and Venezuela.

The head of the state arms exporter said that Russia was negotiating to sell new anti-aircraft systems to Iran despite American objections.

“Contacts between our countries are continuing and we do not see any reason to suspend them,” Anatoly Isaikin, general director of Rosoboronexport, told Ria-Novosti at an arms fair in South Africa.

Reports have circulated for some time that Russia is preparing to sell its S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, offering greater protection against a possible US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The missiles have a range of more than 150 kilometres and can intercept jets approaching at low altitudes.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said that it was logical to conclude a lucrative contract with Iran “in the current situation, when the US and the West in general are stubbornly gearing toward a confrontation with Russia”.

Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems under a $700 million deal with Iran in 2005.

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From the telegraph.co.uk article:
“We must finalise and adopt a federal law on the southern border of Russia’s Arctic zone,” Mr Medvedev told a meeting of the Security Council, in remarks carried by Interfax news agency.

“This is our responsibility, and simply our direct duty, to our descendents,” he said. “We must surely, and for the long-term future, secure Russia’s interests in the Arctic.”

Global warming has stepped up the fight for the disputed Arctic, believed to be laden with vast reserves of oil and gas. Russia has pitted itself against Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States to fight for a greater part of the region, arguing that most of it is Russian territory since an underwater ridge links Siberia to the North Pole’s seabed.

Under international law, each of the five countries that lay claim to the Arctic own a 320-kilometre zone that extends north from their shores. That arrangement is up for UN review in May next year.

Medvedev’s statements on the heated Arctic issue came one day after Putin said that Russia’s defence spending would rise 27 per cent next year to nearly $100 billion (£30 million).

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From the ap article:
Pakistan’s military has ordered its forces to open fire if U.S. troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border, an army spokesman said Tuesday.

The orders, which come in response to a highly unusual Sept. 3 ground attack by U.S. commandos, are certain to heighten tensions between Washington and a key ally against terrorism. Although the ground attack was rare, there have been repeated reports of U.S. drone aircraft striking militant targets, most recently on Sept. 12.

Pakistani officials warn that stepped-up cross-border raids will accomplish little while fueling violent religious extremism in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Some complain that the country is a scapegoat for the failure to stabilize Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s civilian leaders, who have taken a hard line against Islamic militants since forcing Pervez Musharraf to resign as president last month, have insisted that Pakistan must resolve the dispute with Washington through diplomatic channels.

However, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press that after U.S. helicopters ferried troops into a militant stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal region, the military told field commanders to prevent any similar raids.

“The orders are clear,” Abbas said in an interview. “In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: open fire.”

U.S. military commanders accuse Islamabad of doing too little to prevent the Taliban and other militant groups from recruiting, training and resupplying in Pakistan’s wild tribal belt.

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From the breitbart.com article:
Two Tu-160 Russian strategic bombers landed Wednesday at an airbase in Venezuela to take part in military exercises, Russian news agencies reported, citing the Russian defence ministry.

Source here.

From the reuters.com article:
Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major maneuvers on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War.

Russian officials denied the mission was linked to a naval standoff with U.S warships in the Black Sea, but it will take place at a time of high tension between Washington and Moscow over the conflict in Georgia.

Washington has played down the significance of the exercise.

Russia has criticized the United States for sending a command ship and two other naval vessels to Georgia, on its southern border, to deliver aid and show support for President Mikheil Saakashvili after Moscow sent troops into Georgia.

Kremlin leader Dmitry Medvedev asked on Saturday how Washington would feel “if we now dispatched humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean … using our navy”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat warships.

Moscow’s most modern destroyer, the “Admiral Chabanenko”, will also steam to the Caribbean, along with other ships, including a fuel tanker, he added.

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Ship specifics here.

From the reuters.com article:
Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported on Saturday.

Quoting Venezuela’s naval intelligence director, Salbarore Cammarata, the newspaper Vea said four Russian boats would visit Venezuelan waters from November 10 to 14.

Plans for the naval operations come at a time of heightened diplomatic tension and Cold War-style rhetoric between Moscow and the United States over the recent war in Georgia and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Cammarata said it would be the first time Russia’s navy carried out such exercises in Latin America. He said the Venezuelan air force would also take part.

Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year’s reactivation of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years.The socialist Chavez says he fears the United States will invade oil-rich Venezuela and he supports Russia’s growing geopolitical presence as a counterbalance to U.S. power.

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Additional info:
4th Fleet
US Navy Numbered Fleets

From the itar-tass.com article:

Russia is not interested in bad relations with the United States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an exclusive CNN interview on Friday.

Russia would be ready to work with any U.S. administration on strategic issues like non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said.

“We are not interested in bad relations with the United States,” Lavrov said. “It wouldn’t be our choice, but if the United States does not want to cooperate with us on one or another issue, we cannot impose.”

“We acted [in the Caucasus] because we had no other choice,” Lavrov said. “We had no other choice [than] to ensure not just the security of Abkhazians and South Ossetians, but their very survival. Georgia, too, many times in its history, including very recent history, tried to basically eliminate these people.”

He also rejected claims of certain politicals about the alleged Russian plans to encroach on territorial integrity of Ukraine or the Baltic republics. “We do not intend to raise the question of territorial integrity of either nation,” he said.

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Diplomacide Mothballed

Diplomacide has been mothballed.
September 2008
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