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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 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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From the timesonline.co.uk article:
Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the cold war, senior military sources warned last night.

The move, in response to American plans for a missile defence shield in Europe, would heighten tensions raised by the advance of Russian forces to within 20 miles of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, yesterday.

Under the Russian plans, nuclear warheads could be supplied to submarines, cruisers and fighter bombers of the Baltic fleet based in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between the European Union countries of Poland and Lithuania. A senior military source in Moscow said the fleet had suffered from underfunding since the collapse of communism. “That will change now,” said the source.

“In view of America’s determination to set up a missile defence shield in Europe, the military is reviewing all its plans to give Washington an adequate response.”

The Russians have already indicated that they may point nuclear missiles at western Europe from bases in Kaliningrad and Belarus. They are also said to be thinking of reviving a military presence in Cuba.

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A top Russian general said Friday that Poland’s agreement to accept a U.S. missile interceptor base exposes the ex-communist nation to attack, possibly by nuclear weapons, the Interfax news agency reported.

The statement by Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn is the strongest threat that Russia has issued against the plans to put missile defense elements in former Soviet satellite nations.

Poland and the United States on Thursday signed a deal for Poland to accept a missile interceptor base as part of a system the United States says is aimed at blocking attacks by rogue nations. Moscow, however, feels it is aimed at Russia’s missile force.

“Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent,” Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, was quoted as saying.

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From the breitbart.com article:
Russia would cross “a red line for the United States of America” if it were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba, a top US air force officer warned on Tuesday.

“If they did I think we should stand strong and indicate that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America,” said General Norton Schwartz, nominated to be the air force’s chief of staff.

He was referring to a Russian news report that said the military is thinking of flying long-range bombers to Cuba on a regular basis.

It was unclear from the report whether that would involve permanent basing of nuclear bombers in Cuba, or just use of the island as a refueling stop.

The newspaper Iszvestia on Monday cited an unnamed senior Russian air force official in Moscow as saying that Russia may start regular flights by long-range bombers to Cuba in response to US plans to install a missile defense system in eastern Europe.

Russia would cross “a red line for the United States of America” if it were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba, a top US air force officer warned on Tuesday.

“If they did I think we should stand strong and indicate that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America,” said General Norton Schwartz, nominated to be the air force’s chief of staff.

He was referring to a Russian news report that said the military is thinking of flying long-range bombers to Cuba on a regular basis.

It was unclear from the report whether that would involve permanent basing of nuclear bombers in Cuba, or just use of the island as a refueling stop.

In his confirmation hearing to become the air force’s chief of staff, Schwartz was asked what he would recommend if Russia were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba.

“I would certainly offer the best military advice that we engage the Russians not to pursue that approach,” he said.

The newspaper Iszvestia on Monday cited an unnamed senior Russian air force official in Moscow as saying that Russia may start regular flights by long-range bombers to Cuba in response to US plans to install a missile defense system in eastern Europe.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the Russian report because there had been no “official response from the Russian government.”

Conducting long-range bomber patrol to Cuba would signal a reawakening of military cooperation by former Cold War allies Moscow and Havana, and recall the 1962 missile crisis that brought Washington and Moscow to the brink of war.

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From the khaleejtimes.com article:

China and Russia on Friday signed a one-billion-dollar deal to expand a nuclear energy facility in the Asian nation, a Russian official said.

“We have completed negotiations on construction of a uranium enrichment factory,” Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, told reporters in Beijing.

He was speaking during a visit to Beijing by new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on his first foreign trip since taking office this month.

The deal will include construction of a fourth block of a nuclear facility that enriches uranium in China as well as the delivery of partially enriched Russian uranium, Kiriyenko said.

“The contract is worth more than one billion dollars, about 500 million dollars for construction and another 500 million for delivery of uranium,” Kiriyenko said.

China has been seeking to expand its use of nuclear power, which accounts for less than two percent of its total energy production.

The fast-growing economic power is highly dependent on coal, which is blamed for worsening pollution and proved risky when supplies were cut off by severe snowstorms during the winter.

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From the washingtonpost.com article:
China announced Tuesday that it will again sharply increase its military spending this year, budgeting a 17.6 percent rise that is roughly equal to last year’s increase.

Disclosure of plans for a $59 billion outlay in 2008 followed a Pentagon report Monday that raised questions about China’s rapidly increasing military budget, and came less than three weeks before a presidential election in Taiwan, the self-governed island over which China claims sovereignty.

A Chinese government spokesman said the country’s decade-long military buildup does “not pose a threat to any country,” but he warned that relations with Taiwan were at a “crucial stage” and that the island would “surely pay a dear price” if it were to take steps that China viewed as a declaration of independence.

At the same time Taiwanese choose a president, they also will vote on a referendum issue asking whether the island should apply for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan.

China’s reported $59 billion budget is still a fraction of what the United States spends each year on its armed forces. President Bush last month requested $515 billion to fund the Pentagon in fiscal 2009, a 7.5 percent increase, plus $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States has pressed China to be more open about its intentions as the scope of its military capabilities and pace of spending increase. At a Pentagon briefing Monday, David Sedney, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, reiterated the U.S. view that China’s defense establishment still severely underreports total spending and has not been clear about its intentions.

“China’s military buildup has been characterized by opacity,” Sedney told reporters, and “by the inability of people in the region and around the world to really know what ties together the capabilities that China’s acquiring with the intentions it has.”

The Pentagon report said China’s near-term focus remains on preparations for potential problems in the Taiwan Strait. But China’s nuclear force modernization, its growing arsenal of advanced missiles and its development of space and cyberspace technologies are changing military balances in Asia and beyond, the report concluded.

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From the article:
As the international price of gold touches record highs, the rush is on to find and exploit deposits around the world. Old mines are being revived: new ones are opening up.

In the town of Ararat – about an hour’s drive south of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital – investors from Russia have moved in to take control of what is believed to be one of the biggest gold-mining operations in the country.

The move has prompted concerns within Armenia over increasing Russian control of vital national economic interests.

In the South Caucasus, one of the world’s most volatile areas, it is also raising the spectre of renewed regional conflict.

In a series of deft investment moves in recent years, Russia has used financial resources generated from sales of its vast oil and gas reserves to regain control of a number of enterprises in what were, before the early 1990s, territories of the Soviet Union.

Nowhere is this investment drive more evident than in Armenia. As a result of often secretive deals linked to the Armenian government’s privatisation programme, Russian companies now control about 80% of the country’s power generating facilities.

These even include a nuclear power plant at Metsamor, near Yerevan.

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has a majority stake in Armenia’s gas network. It is also believed to have taken a controlling interest recently in a gas pipeline, now under construction, that will link Armenia with Iran.

Russian companies own most of Armenia’s telecommunications network, while the country’s railway system is about to be sold to Russia.

“The Russians own what is the economic backbone of Armenia,” says an opposition newspaper.

“Moscow is in control of virtually all our strategic resources.”

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From the article:
The White House expressed concern Wednesday over Iran’s announcement that Russia would supply S-300 air missile defense systems to the Islamic republic.

“We have ongoing concerns about the prospective sale of such weapons to Iran and other countries of concern,” Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, said from Crawford, Texas, where President George W. Bush was spending the year end holiday on his ranch.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced Wednesday that Russia would deliver the system, but said the date for the delivery would be unveiled later. Moscow has not confirmed the sale.

The announcement came as Washington is seeking to impose new United Nations sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program, which the United States fears could be used to build an atomic bomb.

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From the article:
The planned deployment of US interceptor missiles in Poland could trigger a missile strike by Russia if those missiles are ever used, the Russian army’s chief of staff has warned.

“We are talking about the possibility of a retaliatory strike being triggered by the mistaken classification of an interceptor missile,” Yury Baluyevsky said at a press conference broadcast on state television.

Baluyevsky explained that an interceptor missile launched by the United States could be mistaken by Russia’s automatic defence system for a ballistic missile aimed against Russia.

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Diplomacide Mothballed

Diplomacide has been mothballed.
June 2017
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