Day: September 16, 2007

Business as usual

Brian Moynihan, on the “old-new” Russia:

Relations with the West, particularly Britain, are at their worst in years. Moscow has suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Under CFE, adopted in 1990, Russia moved most of its tanks and other hardware east of the Urals. It no longer has to keep them there. Military spending is running at a post-Soviet record. New nuclear submarines, missiles and aircraft have been commissioned.

Amid talk of a renewed arms race, a £500m all-weather missile-defence system was sold to Iran, £1.5 billion of hardware to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, and missiles to Syria. Bear strategic bombers are back over the North Sea for the first time in 17 years, reviving a traditional photo opportunity for RAF pilots as they see them off. A restored base in Syria will give the Russian navy a presence in the Mediterranean.

Pressure is put on neighbours, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, with threats to natural gas supplies. At home, psychiatric wards are again used to forcibly detain dissidents. Political opponents have been beaten up, journalists have been murdered. The British and Estonian ambassadors have been harassed by Kremlin-approved demonstrators