What the Papers Say. Part B (Russia)
March 26, 2004, Friday
SERGEI IVANOV’S RECIPROCITY
SOURCE: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 26, 2004, p. 6
by Vladimir Mukhin
The “Rossia v Globalnoi Politike” (Russia in Global Politics) journal
quoted Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying that NATO expansion
might cause Russia to revise its military strategy – specifically,
its plans for nuclear forces development. This sharply-worded
statement was made in response to NATO intentions to deploy four
F-16S in Lithuania for protection of Baltic aircraft (the Baltic
states are to become NATO members on April 2).
Inspecting the 32nd Air Defense Corps in Tver this Wednesday, Ivanov
announced that Russia is waiting for explanations of the potential
appearance of NATO facilities and forces near its state borders,
especially in the Baltic states. “If deployment of the NATO military
infrastructure in the Baltic states is interpreted as posing a
threat, Russia will take adequate countermeasures,” Ivanov said.
The minister did not explain what kind of measures these would be. At
the same time, it is hard to lend much credit to promises to
reorganize the Russian nuclear forces after the recent statements of
Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov that the Pyotr Veliky
(Peter the Great) cruiser could blow up at any moment, and that ICBMs
carries by strategic nuclear submarines are technically obsolete
(only one launch out of five tried last month was successful).
An active phase of military exercises has taken place in some Russian
regions and CIS countries. It involved several Air Force regiments,
air defense units, flotillas, almost 20,000 troops, and units from
the national armies of CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization
In fact, military activity was noticed across all post-Soviet
territory where the Russian military is stationed: off the Crimean
coast, in Akhalkalaki (Georgia), Gyumri (Armenia), and Tajikistan.
Estonia has already complained that a Russian aircraft had had the
temerity to trespass. Ukraine also responded to activeness of the
Russian Air Force above the Black Sea. It ran an exercise in the
Crimea, right near the area where aircraft of the Russian Black Sea
Fleet and its own aircraft were based. Ukrainian commandos practiced
dealing with illegal armed formations at airfields. Russian units
were not invited to participate in the exercise.
Estonia made its airspace open for NATO aircraft yesterday. A week
earlier, Ukraine made its territory available to NATO contingents for
Tension between Russia and NATO is mounting with each passing day.
Well-informed and reliable sources say that US Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld’s visit to Uzbekistan last month resulted in an
agreement with official Tashkent on the use of military facilites in
Uzbekistan by American mobile forces. Russia promised to bolster its
Air Force unit in Kant, Kyrgyzstan, in response.
The Russian 92nd Military Base in Georgia is active these days.
Georgian special forces responded to this activeness with an exercise
of their own in Vaziani. Abkhazia is mobilizing its troops. The
situation is anything but tranquil. Neither is the situation any more
tranquil in South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester, the latter vehemently
objecting to withdrawal of Russian military hardware from the region.
All post-Soviet territory is a zone of conflicts, exercises, and
maneuvers. All this could even lead to a shooting war.