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article imageOp-Ed: Russia’s military resurgence rivals the West

By Eliot Elwar     Jan 18, 2013 in World
The USSR has been dead for over 21 years along with the fear it once spread over the Western world. However, despite the death of that superpower, the Russian Federation’s desire to return to its military superpower days endures continually.
Russia has been hyping itself as producing the best military hardware on Earth, according to Pravda news. Despite complaints from the western countries whose enemies Moscow continually arms, this nuclear power continues to provide all kinds of weapon systems to the purchasers throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently that Russia sold over 14 billion dollars in weapons and services during 2012. Russia exports its weapons and hardware to 88 nations. Fifty-seven nations are regular purchasers, and India remains the largest purchaser of Russian military equipment. Putin plans on increasing Russia’s military spending by 770 billion dollars from 2014 to 2020. Russia's booming sales and profits from their natural oil and gas resources have facilitated their military hardware manufacturing for export, according to the Business Insider.
Russia's T-90 battle tanks, T-70 battle tanks, and Su-35M fighter jets equip some of the strongest African militaries, such as Algeria, Uganda, and Chad. The T-90 Russian designed battle tank appears to be as advanced as the United States' M1 battle tank. Russia plans to introduce the T-99 main battle tank in 2014, according to the Business Insider.
The Su-35 Russian designed combat aircraft is a twin-engine multi-role fighter jet. Russia hopes this fighter jet will dominate the global weapons market. Libya was a major Su-35 aircraft purchaser prior to Gadhafi’s death. New discussions between the new Libyan authorities and Russia are expected to resume military cooperation between the two nations. Libya signed a contract for 200 T-72 battle tank modernization, offering Russia another promising buyer as it seeks to build business in the market of restoring, upgrading, and repairing military weapon systems, according to the Business Insider.
Russia has a vigorous contract portfolio with Iraq worth over four billion dollars. Other nations have a long shopping list of weapon items they seek to purchase from Russia's weapons and hardware markets, such as self-propelled artillery, combat aircraft, warships, and air-defense missiles.
Russia's MSTA-S 152mm self-propelled howitzer has been in service since 1989. There are currently 800 in Russia's inventory. The uniqueness of this weapon is the fact that it can run on six different fuel types, among them diesel, gas, aviation fuel, and spirit alcohol. The Sukhoi T-50 is Russia's fifth generation of stealth fighter jets a likely contender with the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet and slightly faster than the F-22 Raptor by 190 km/h. The Russian Defense Ministry plans to purchase 60 of these fighters by 2016 while confining the development cost to 10 billion dollars with a lifespan of 30 years, according to the Business Insider.
The Yasen-class submarine has been called the quietest sub in the ocean by the Office of Naval Intelligence. It carries up to 32 cruise missiles and is scheduled for ocean deployment by 2015 at a cost of 1.2 billion dollars each. Perhaps the development of the Bulava, Sineva, and Layner ballistic missiles best describe why Russia is obsessed with submarines. These three submarine-launched ballistic-missiles (SLBM's) are the forefront of Russia's naval missile defense. The Layner SLBM is scheduled to augment the Bulava and has 12 warheads capable of piercing anti-ballistic missile defenses. The Bulava SLBM nuclear warhead carries six 150 kiloton bombs with an effective range of 6,100 miles. They are expected to be in operation around the 2013 or 2014 timeframe, according to the Business Insider.
Additionally, Russia is expanding its littoral water fleet navy with the Steregushchy-class corvette ships. There are currently three warships in service with three under construction, and two more for export to Algeria. At a cost of 150 million dollars per ship exported, these vessels are far more affordable than the planned U.S. Littoral Combat Ships with their price tag 1.2 billion dollar price tag for each warship, according to the Business Insider.
Russia's main objective is to strengthen its conventional military and strategic nuclear forces, which is the forefront of Vladimir Putin's vision to enact a Eurasian Union, according to Kyiv Post news. Analysts assess that Russia is using the Eurasian Union as a cover to "re-Sovietize" those nations that were part of the former USSR.
Because Syria is Russia's close ally, it has opened its port of Tartus, permitting Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet to base their warships as a strategic demonstration of force against the Mediterranean NATO fleets. Moscow has not publically confirmed that it has exported the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to the Syrian government leadership under President Assad regime, according to the Guardian.
Russia has maintained a strong military presence in Syria, causing a challenge for any future U.S. led intervention in that region. Russia's military advisors are currently manning Syria's advanced air-defense missile systems. Moscow has upgraded Syria's old surface-to-air missile systems and deployed new missiles since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago. The missile defense systems’ strategic deployments make combat operations against Syria a very dangerous and deadly adventure for any future western campaign to support a no-fly zone or air strikes against the current leadership, according to the Guardian.
The Russians sold equipment and they helped man the crews and train the crews because there is little domestic capacity to run their advance weapon systems in Syria where Syrian crews are not capable of using the equipment to its full capacity. Moscow has invested a great deal in Syria, and it doesn't want to lose that investment, according to the Guardian.
Analysis
The Eurasian Union could return Russia to superpower status reflecting the Soviet era. The Eurasian Union is a proposed political and economic union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and other nations that were a part of the USSR. The idea was brought to attention in October 2011 by the then-Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, but was first proposed as a concept by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, during a 1994 speech at a Moscow university. In November 2011, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement, setting a target of establishing the Eurasian Union by 2015. The agreement included the roadmap for the future integration and established the Eurasian Commission and the Eurasian Economic Space, which started work on 1 January 2012.
Western analysts assess that the Eurasian Union is Putin’s plan to re-Sovietize Eurasia, while he modernize and militarize Russia’s national defense and security to rival the Western powers. A show of increased military strength at home and abroad is Moscow's warning to the Western powers that Russia is prepared to defend its Eurasian Union policy with force when necessary. Therefore, a modern Eurasian military force appears to be Moscow’s counter to NATO.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Russia, Moscow, Vladimir putin, Nuclear weapons, eurasian union
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