April 29, 2015
Russian Blogosphere Survey for April 29, 2015
Since this is the 25th edition of this “almost-daily” Fort Russ feature, we had the Red Square decorated to celebrate this occasion as you can see on the photo above. To view earlier editions, click on the Daily Brief tab above the title.
“The country’s nominal GDP increased by a factor of 15. Individual incomes grew by many times”
“Our main task is the country’s development and the preservation of its economic sovereignty.”
“Attracting private investment should be a blessing for the economy, not a problem.”
“The May Decrees should be implemented, in spite of difficulties. The crisis is no reason to cancel them.”
Russkiy malchik notes that Putin, in the film President shown on Sunday, referred to Russia’s ability to satisfy all of its (and its major corporations’) debt obligations in 2014 and 2015, which amounted to $190 billion, without access to Western long-term refinancing. This was the whole idea behind the sanctions (and the drop in the oil prices), namely to starve Russia of money and force a change in its domestic and foreign policies. I suspect the answer is a relatively prosaic one–Russia continues to run a trade surplus, it is effectively replacing imports with domestic production (which greatly reduces the need to spend foreign currency), and it’s not nearly as corrupt as the West likes to depict it.
The Baltic states used to be in a pretty good position, kind of like Switzerland in relation to the EU–not part of it and therefore not having to contribute to it, but extracting maximum benefits from its proximity, and in the case of the Baltics it meant that their ports were making good profits off the transit of goods between Russia and the Rest of the World. But they began to take that cozy relationship for granted, and failed to appreciate that any deterioration of relations between Russia and the EU would hurt them first. And it did, since 70% of the cargo flows that used Baltic states’ ports is now going through Russian ports. Which is forcing the Baltic states to reconsider its economic and political strategies and, as in the case of Lithuania, for example, is driving them into a state of panic.
When asked in a recent poll whose armed forces made the greatest contribution to defeating the Axis, the majority of people polled in France and Germany named the US. The British differed on that score, naming…themselves…as having made the most important contribution. Only about 17% Germans, 13% French, and 8% British recognized the importance of the Red Army war effort. Seems to me someone is doomed to repeat a few history lessons.
Though the situation at the front has calmed down considerably, people are continuing to die due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Donbass. Russian aid worker Yevdokiya Sheremetyeva, who blogs as Little Hiroshima, writes of the challenges in providing diabetics with the insulin they need simply to survive. What complicates matters is that, in some cases, once a diabetic starts taking a specific brand of insulin, he/she has to continue taking that brand, as switching may lead to life-threatening complications. Therefore insulin has to be matched to every specific recipient individually.
The journalist, of course, is Graham Phillips of Novorossia reporting fame, and the video is well worth watching (and sharing on the social media). All I can say is “Je suis Graham Phillips!”
Lots of Russian blogs are running stories on the Baltimore riots, and most of them, including bmpd, are making very explicit comparisons to the Maidan and other US “democracy promotion” efforts. Karma…
Feniks to replace Soyuz
That’s not it–it’s the venerable Soyuz that’s still flying after all these decades. However, Roskosmos intends to begin the development of a new medium-class space-launch vehicle starting in 2018, allocating 30 billion rubles for the task.
This might one of those cases where the old saying about trying to shove a square peg into a round (or, in this case, hexagonal) hole is actually a very good description of the problem. Ukraine still operates Soviet-design reactors, such as the VVER-1000, whose nuclear fuel has specific qualities that have to be matched exactly in order to avoid safety problems. Whether Westinghouse and the Ukrainian nuclear industry are capable of dealing with this politically-imposed solution is still an open question.
Severstal was awarded Germany’s DIN 488 certification for reinforcement steel (rebar) rods. Since German certifications are also valid for many Eastern European EU members (including Poland and the Baltics), it is expected Severstal will also increase its exports to those countries. Yet another positive impact from ruble devaluation. In April alone Severstal signed contracts for the delivery of 1700t of rebar to EU countries.
NBU Chair Gontareva demonstrating the actual size of the Ukrainian economy by the time she’s done with it.
NBU Chair Gontareva said the Ukraine’s economy has reached the bottom, though Gontareva’s optimism (!) was due to the EU-Ukraine summit that practically demanded Ukrainian leaders to say something positive about their country and, evidently, that was it. Ukraine’s economy is on the bottom. Still, to say that Ukraine is on the bottom would imply a certain “flatness” of economic situation, which in reality is still in a dive. Quarter-to-quarter, Ukraine’s economy continued to decline at a rapid rate of 15% (according to NBU itself!) with an inflation rate of 45%, which does not suggest the bottom is even in sight. Especially since Yatsenyuk wants to privatize as much as possible as quickly as possible, and continue to increase utility rates to boot. As if that weren’t enough, Ukraine is expected to experience a shortage of a major staple, buckwheat, by the end of the year, due to the drop in the acreage being planted.
Rosaviakonsortsium is beginning the development of a wide-body medium range airliner capable of carrying 350 passengers a distance of up to 3500km. Most airliners capable of carrying such a passenger load are large, long-range aircraft, while medium-range aircraft have far fewer seats on them, so the Fregat Ecojet is intended to service high-volume intra-continental routes.
Rosselmash is making a major effort to reorganize and coordinate all the various research institutes and industrial plants in order to make the production of agricultural equipment in Russia more streamlined and competitive, and with an eye to full import substitution, to take advantage of the ruble devaluation. The blogger, who also happens to the the leader of Russia’s Business Party, Konstantin Babkin, speaks highly of the Ministry of Industry, but faults the Russian Central Bank as pursuing a “tight money” policy which makes credits more difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, Rosselmash has already had some major export successes in recent months.
The Russian Army will receive its first 100 Armatas already in 2016. Interestingly, the report says that the new tank will not be designated T-14, but simply “Armata”.
Are robots growing up? Russian Army’s new equipment
Very impressive-looking vehicles, no doubt incorporating technologies developed for the Armata project. Because if you can figure out how to take the crew out of the turret, it’s not that hard to take it out of the vehicle altogether.
Belarus is the fourth country (other than Russia) to have ordered these aircraft.
There are more photos at the link. One of the so-far mysterious features of this vehicle is the small armored box right in the middle of the glacis, well in front of the crew hatches. Thermal imaging camera for the driver???
The Nikonov rifle was touted as the AK-74 replacement back in the 1990s, but it failed the troop trials due to its extreme level of complexity (lots of small and easy to lose parts…). And now it makes an appearance at the Victory Parade, even though it did not even take part in the AK-12 vs. AEK-971 shoot-off that was won by the AK-12. Enough to make NATO analysts guess for years!
The ship is undergoing a deep reconstruction which will be completed by 2019, and which will result in a practically new ship, armed with the latest in Russia’s naval weaponry.
This post revives the old controversy over who was the most effective Soviet fighter pilot of World War 2, Ivan Kozhedub (officially credited with 62 kills, the most of any Allied fighter pilot) or Aleksandr Pokryshkin (officially credit with 59). Muravei_s argues that Pokryshkin in actuality scored 94 kills, which is entirely possible, since Pokryshkin was renowned as a trainer and mentor to young fighter pilots and who moreover revamped VVS fighter tactics to cope with Luftwaffe tactics. So it’s entirely possible that some of the kills attributed to Pokryshkin’s wingmen, young pilots whom he took under his wing (no pun intended), in actuality were scored by Pokryshkin himself.
Colonel Ilya Grigoryevich
Starinov is a legendary Great Patriotic War figure. The grandfather of
the Russian special operations forces, he carried out numerous
demolitions behind enemy lines, starting with the Spanish Civil War (his exploits are believed to be the inspiration for Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”), and
continuing to make his mark on many of the most important battles of
the Great Patriotic War, including the Kursk battle where his unit laid
anti-tank minefields behind the German frontline, where the Wehrmacht would least expect
them. But his last campaign was the counter-insurgency against the UPA. In his memoirs he describes the UPA as essentially an extension of
the Abwehr, which “outsourced” to it the tasks of counter-partisan
warfare (with the result that, until large Soviet partisan units moved
into Western Ukraine, that region was wholly safe for the German
occupiers) and intelligence gathering. Once the Red Army liberated
Ukraine and moved westward, the UPA continued its relationship with the
Abwehr and was a de-facto “stay behind” force which was supposed to tie
down Red Army units, thus weakening its strength at the front. Starinov
also notes that in 1945 alone UPA killed approximately 30 thousand
The appearance of German heavy tanks, such as the Tiger (in 1942) and Panther (in 1943), forced the Red Army to counter them by developing more effective anti-armor weapons. One of the first products of this efforts were the heavy Soviet assault guns, nicknamed “beast-slayers” for their effectiveness at destroying German heavy tanks during the Battle of Kursk. In August of 1943 Stalin personally inspected one of these vehicles and chatted with its battle-experienced crew, to learn for himself what the frontline soldiers wanted and needed. It’s not clear from the photo which of the “beast slayers” this is, but it’s most likely an SU-152, which carried a 152mm gun-howitzer (a weapon that was particularly effective at destroying fortifications), which used the automotive components and most of the hull of the KV-1 heavy tank, but replacing the turret with a casemate carrying a much heavier weapon.
It’s the blogger Varlamov’s childhood home, after all. But it sure seems to rain a lot there.
Many more at the link.
It’s like that
“To tell the difference between political expression by a peaceful maidan and a riot, you simply need to know how to read English.”
“The Dignity Revolution has spread to yet another country. Glory to Baltimore! Glory to Heroes! Whoever doesn’t jump is a Snowflake!”
“Baltimore Morning Mail: These people were seen on the streets of Baltimore with truck tires and Molotov cocktails.”