April 30, 2015
Russian Blogosphere Survey for April 30, 2015
This is the 26th edition of the “almost-daily” Fort Russ feature. To view the earlier editions, please click on the Daily Brief tab above the title.
The participants in the Berdyayev Readings conference in Kaliningrad noted the increase in the pro-Russian sentiments across the European continent, especially in France, where Sarkozy’s team has acquired a number of pro-Russian figures, but also in Germany. Armand Klesse, the director of the Luxembourg Institute for European Studies, noted the moral and intellectual disintegration of European democracies, which are beginning to view Russia as an example to emulate. This state of affairs, however, causes concern among the Anglo-Saxon powers, because a rapprochement between Russia and the continental European powers would mean the end of the Anglo-Saxon global hegemony.
There’s something of a scandal brewing between Montenegro and Russia since the former country’s major newspaper published a leaked transcript of a conversation between its foreign minister with Germany’s foreign minister Steinmeier, in which the Montenegrin minister accuses Russia of attempting to destabilize Montenegro. The means of destabilization? Russia’s retaliation for Montenegro’s joining of EU sanctions against Russia. So now the whole of Montenegro’s foreign policy, which since 2010 has been oriented away from Russia and toward Western institutions (including joining NATO), is under question, because it’s not the EU tourists and EU investors who have been pouring money into Montenegro’s economy, but Russian ones. The pull-back of Russian involvement therefore threatens Montenegro with a severe political crisis, possibly even a change in government, and it’s that concern that was communicated to Steinmeier.
The “good news” is that over 200 officials will be held responsible for violations committed during construction at the Vostochnyy space launch facility. The RF Prosecutor General office has also launched 20 criminal investigations. The Vostochnyy cosmodrome has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, to the point that workers have resorted to placing “Putin! Help!” signs on the roofs of their housing. Well, it must have worked, because Dmitriy Rogozin personally flew there a couple of weeks ago, and how heads have begun to roll.
Somehow “fiasco” and “Ukraine” seem to go together well these days…This particular fiasco concerns Brazil’s rejection of Ukraine as a partner in the construction of the Alcantara space launch facility after wasting about a billion reals on the fruitless cooperative effort. Russia has already offered its not inconsiderable services. The Alcantara project has a great deal of potential. Since it is located practically on the Equator, it would be the world’s most efficient space launch facility, since rockets need less fuel to place payloads into orbit then when launching from higher latitudes.
Russkiy Malchik is concerned that the Kiev government would rather experience a radiological catastrophe than ask Moscow for help. Which is probably an accurate assessment of the situation.
In a t-shirt, no less, and surrounded by cameras. The essential Yatsenyuk encapsulated by a single photo.
The column on which this statue stands is gradually crumbling, exposing the internal reinforcements to corrosion, which means the monument’s inevitable collapse unless something is done to fix it. There is speculation that the current government actually wants to see the statue gone in order to place something different in that spot, something more in keeping with its current political bent. A Bandera statue, perhaps?
but but…they had an agreement, right? Something’s not quite right
about the relationship between the RS and the UAF if stuff like that is
still going on. It may well be that either Yarosh or the MOD backed out
of the deal (Filatov plainly accused Poroshenko of being a worthless liar for allegedly going back on his word) or that, quite possibly, Yarosh betrayed his own RS in
exchange for a cushy job on the General Staff. The third possibility is
that Yarosh actually has little control over his own volunteer
battalions, who have refused to sign onto the deal he reached with
Muzhenko. Other bloggers, for example, nkfedor,
report that the UAF GenStaff said the surrounding of a RS base by
troops from the 25th Airmobile and 79th Mechanized brigades was just an
exercise. An exercise in what? Intimidation?
The Right Sector is calling the government’s actions a provocation, and Yarosh has called on his fighters not to lay down their arms. There are also reports that the SBU has been trying to arrest RS members in the Donbass and Azov units which, however, told the SBU there were no RS members in their ranks, suggesting these forces have made common cause with the RS. Ukrainian commentators note that the RS is still well funded by various oligarchs, most of whom prefer to remain anonymous.
UAF shelling of NAF positions was pretty intense at times, and used
both 120mm mortars and howitzers, but no rocket artillery. Five houses
were destroyed in Gorlovka alone, the NAF returned fire but on a smaller
scale. DPR intelligence is noting movements of UAF rocket artillery
units closer to the front line. Cassad (Boris Rozhin) believes this is
just a preparation for something bigger, and adds that two US cargo
aircraft left Kaiserslautern for Ukraine with an unspecified cargo
(probably more Humvees).
Chief of Staff Basurin is reporting that the UAF is bringing up fresh
troops, weapons, and improving its defensive positions. This is
presumably the fourth wave of mobilization finally reaching the
frontline, although Basurin believes that it’s part of UAF’s preparation
for the resumption of active operations.
Poroshenko’s trip to Brussels for the EU-Ukraine summit was basically a waste of time. Whatever he was asking for (money? peacekeepers? money? weapons? money? oh, did I mention money?), he did not get. What is more, Jean-Claude Juncker in no uncertain terms told Poroshenko that the Association Agreement must enter into full force not later than January 1, 2016. So it looks like the EU has become a veritable factory of Ukrainian disappointments.
Russian transport aircraft flew out more than 100 foreign citizens from Nepal, including 11 Ukrainians. A clear sign, if another one was needed, of Russia’s nefarious designs on Ukraine. Russia’s perfidy was demonstrated earlier when it evacuated Ukrainians from war-torn Yemen.
Yevdokiya Sheremetyeva (Little Hiroshima) delivers yet another humanitarian cargo to the Donbass. She notes that her organization is now receiving financial contributions from citizens all around the world, including the United States, Germany, France, Australia, Israel, Norway, Philippines, though the citizens of Russia still constitute the biggest donor block. Many more photos at the link.
Russia has not been able to become fully food-independent over the course of the last year, but the trends are all in the right direction. Cheese production increased by 31%, for example, fish by 19%, meat by 18%, other categories have also experienced significant growth. A remarkable accomplishment considering that the Russian Central Bank lending rate is still at 15%!
The Urals Metal-Milling Plant makes a wide range of high-quality milling, drilling, and cutting machinery. The imported items that were replaced with domestic ones included the machines’ operating software.
And why not? Since they are desperate for money, they’ll have to sell it off at a significant discount. But it won’t save them, because once everything is privatized, Ukraine will still be where it was before, except now much of its economy will be under foreign control. But even that’s not going to be the end of the story, because if you are a Western investor in an unstable country like Ukraine, which sounds like a better deal, investing in your new acquisition, or selling it for even a small profit to a…Russian corporation?
Defense Minister Shoygu instructed the Kazan Aviation Plant, where the Tu-160 was manufactured, to study the question of resuming the bomber’s production, presumably from the feasibility point of view, since it’s been over a decade since the last bomber was completed there.
More photos at the link.
The Bal system uses Kh-35 and Kh-35U Uran missiles, with the range of 120km and 260km. More photos at the link.
An electrical short-circuit aboard a self-propelled howitzer caused a fire, which led to the explosion of stored ammunition load. The crew evacuated the vehicle in time, though ten soldiers were injured by falling debris.
The improvements include more powerful and efficient engines, a new wing design, and a modified chassis capable of supporting heavier cargo loads. Ten more such aircraft are in various phases of construction, 39 total are on order.
Oleg Bochkarev said the following interesting things about the vehicle. Official state trials will begin in 2016, using about 100 pre-production vehicles (like the ones seen in the parade rehearsals) constructed for that task. Series production is to begin by 2020. Everything suggests this is one of the top priority defense programs, including the sheer number of pre-production vehicles (indicates an effort to get the testing right in the shortest possible amount of time). Andrei-bt comments that one did not see such tight deadlines and level of activity since the Cold War, indicating Russia is not taking anything for granted when it comes to the international politics. Bochkarev also noted that the Kurganets-25 IFV will follow a similar development schedule, and that neither will be immediately available for export, until an inferior export version is developed separately.
The equipment they are using is the R-330Zh automated jammer whose applications include jamming both radio communication links and GPS navigation links of missiles and drones.
Yurasumy discusses the state of the Ukrainian artillery, which by and large is also at the end of its tether. Many weapons were destroyed or captured, others were worn out by heavy use and, frankly, abuse by poorly trained crews, and there’s little left in the storage facilities that can still be brought into line units. Even such “staples” as the BM-21 Grad 122mm MRL are beginning to run low. As a result, Ukrainian artillery batteries are being spontaneously reduced from 6 to 4 guns, and are increasingly using older, less capable systems, with the proportion of self-propelled weapons decreasing.
Yet another major production, a crowd-funded project also partly financed by the Ministry of Culture and the War Thunder electronic game, dealing with an important episode of the Great Patriotic War, namely the self-sacrificial last stand of a Soviet platoon to delay the Wehrmacht’s advance on Moscow. The studio released a teaser which already looks pretty promising. Frankly, one can’t help but notice the similarities between that fight and the footage from the winter battles on the Donbass.
A group of Russian riverine military history fan(atic)s has built a replica of a BK-1125-type armored cutter, a small riverine gunboat equipped with a tank turret (early versions like the one above used a T-28 tank turret, later ones a T-34 turret), and several machine-guns. These ships served well on the Soviet Union’s many rivers and lakes and formed the backbone of its riverine flotillas which were essential to the success of amphibious assault operations across wide rivers like the Volga or Dnepr. Though intended mainly for river use, they also operated in coastal seas and played a major role in the Kerch amphibious operation, among others. The river flotillas also operated the larger BK-1124-type armored cutters, with two tank turrets instead of one. More photos at the link.
A 15-minute documentary on the SU-100 tank destroyer (another of the “beast-killers”), including contemporary efforts to restore one of these vehicles to working order. With English subtitles.
Lots and lots of photos. The place is simply amazing.
“Take us into the EU!!!”
“The first RF humanitarian convoy has left for Baltimore.”
7:30. UN, EU, and China warn the White House regime against using force in Baltimore.
7:40. Angela Merkel: “The National Guard should be ordered out of Baltimore. The Dignity Revolution cannot be suppressed by force.
7:42. Russia’s Ambassador is distributing doughnuts and water among the protesters, asking them to stand until victory.
8:08. Lavrov and Churkin held a telephone conversation on the candidates for the post of US president and secretary of state, who would assume their offices after the victory of Baltimore’s Dignity Revolution.
“Russia has brought back to life the millions of paratroopers who died fighting against the ‘cyborgs’ at the Donetsk Airport.”
Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko, Shkiryak: “There is no danger of radiation from Chernobyl.”
“The Chernobyl fire situation is stable! There is no cause for concern!”
“More than 30% of the inhabitants of Ukraine want to leave the country. People can’t live with such freedom and prosperity, they are literally afraid to die of happiness.”
Nizhniy Tagil is of course the home to Uralvagonzavod, the proud maker of the T-72 series of tanks (which includes the T-90), and now also the Armata.
“Poland chickened out once again. Maybe we should try a different means of transportation?”