Voices from Russia

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Young Russians Mourn Together With the People of Ossetia

A sombre event, A Candle by the Temple, took place in Moscow last night. The event was organised by the leaders of various youth organisations and was the final act of the day of mourning in Russia for those killed in South Ossetia. It was 15 minutes past midnight Moscow time. A small square in front of the largest church in Russia, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, was crowded with young people, all holding lit candles in their hands. There is a reason that the time and the place were selected, it was not random. You may remember that it was a quarter past midnight on the 8th of this month that Georgian troops attacked the republic of South Ossetia. Over 2,000 people died in the first two days of fighting, mostly old people, women, and children…

Quite a few young Ossetians came to attend the event, their eyes full of tears and their hand trembling. Those around them tried to console them the best they could. But, few were able to control their emotions. Diana was born and grew up in Tskhinvali, and she said, “We are all people, whether good or bad. We all want to live and speak our native tongue. We have long been denied the opportunity. This is the reason why my family and I have lived in Moscow for several years now. This is the reason why all of us have Russian names. We realise that it is a lot safer to be with Russia and in Russia”.

Maksim Mishchenko, the leader of the youth movement Young Russia, said, “We gathered in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour because it symbolises Russian Orthodox Christianity. Moreover, Christianity unites people and helps them survive in the most difficult times. We mourn together with the people of Ossetia and we’ve come to this event both to support the people of Ossetia and make it clear to the rest of the world that cynicism and double standards in politics are not acceptable. Russian young people will prevent this from happening.

Today, Russians are faced with a very real danger, and young Russians are well aware where the threat comes from. Everyone has long since realised that there are only 140 million people living in Russia, whilst this country has two-thirds of the world’s mineral resources. Everyone is envious of Russia, and efforts are made both from within and without to destabilise the situation. But, I am positive that nothing whatsoever will come out of this. Any aggression only helps us to pull ourselves together. The tragedy of the people of Ossetia has united all the peoples of Russia. All of us have again experienced, and stronger than ever before, the feeling that we are a family, with a common history, a common past, future, and present. Now, let the world see that the young people of Russia stand for peace and justice. But, let the world also realise that we’ll tolerate no aggression, wherever it may come from”.

14 August 2008

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

After the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese navy, Admiral Yamamoto reputedly said, “I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”. Russia needed a shock to awaken it, to bring it to its senses. Many zapadniki are not aware that Russians are at their best when their backs are to the wall. Many times in history, invaders have come to Russia in many guises, not only in the garb of soldiers. Yet, the Russian people have always arisen. Just as Dmitri Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin led the people in the time of the Smuta, just as St Aleksandr Nevsky arose to face the Swedes and the Teutonic Knights, just as St Dmitri Donskoi vanquished the Tatars on the Kulikovo Field, just as Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn faced down the Marxist secularists with the power of his character, today, Russia has been challenged and leaders have arisen, Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev.

They are not angels; they are not saints. However, they are the men called forth in this emergency. The USA threatened Russia. Russia said, “Do your worst, we are ready. We shall not allow the blood of our people in Ossetia to be mocked. We shall do what we must”. So far, this response has cowed the Americans. Russia was supposed to be weak, Russia was supposed to be incompetent, and Russia was supposed to be friendless. None of that was true. One of our strengths was shown by the young people gathered on the square in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.


We wish to live in peace with all. We covet nothing that is not traditionally ours. We wish to live in our house in peace, and wish the same for the West. However, it is clear, all who march on Russia, all who intend to weaken her, shall be defeated. George Bush is simply the last in a long line of those who thought that they could destroy us as an independent and free Orthodox people. We wish to live in our way, and we extend the same to you. This is not only true of Russians in the rodina; it is also true of us in the Russian diaspora. If you wish to live according to your lights, do so, and may you prosper. Leave us be to live in the traditional Orthodox manner of our Russian ancestors. It is what we choose to do. Is that truly too much to ask?



Western Experts Say Saakashvili Has No Political Future

A ruined street in Tskhinvali caused by the direct orders of Mikhail Saakashvili


Many politicians and experts in the West tend to think that after Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Mikhail Saakashvili has no political future. “Georgia started the war. Then, Russia reacted to it”, Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia believes. Unlike many of his colleagues in Eastern Europe, he has an unbiased attitude to the events in the Caucasus. Russian-born American political analyst Dmitri Simes said the US administration had no right to accuse Russia of “a disproportionate reaction to Georgia’s aggression”. Mr Simes took part in a talk show on the PBS non-commercial TV network, where he emphasised that Washington had sent “mixed signals” to President Saakashvili. The latter took them as signs of support; therefore, he launched a minor blitzkrieg against South Ossetia. Mr Saakashvili’s ill-conceived steps caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians, a split within Georgia, and huge economic losses, wrote Mansur Akgun, an observer for the Turkish newspaper Referans. The Georgian leadership expected the outcome of the war would allow them to annex South Ossetia, but, it turned out the exact opposite. Having attacked South Ossetia, Mr Saakashvili made a double mistake in his forecasting, concerning Russia’s reaction to it and the support he would receive from the West, believes Arnaud Dubien, a French expert. He thinks the crisis in the Caucasus illustrated a change in the balance of power in the world and also proved that the West can no longer ignore Russian security interests. Alexander Rahr, a prominent European political analyst and a member of the German Council for Foreign Policy, thinks Mr Saakashvili may very well soon face serious domestic political problems. The USA and its allies will do their best to save his ruined image, as they’re very interested in Georgia, not for its own sake, but, as a bridgehead for transporting oil and gas from Central Asia to Europe, and also to restrain Russia. However, this policy has proven ineffective, and Mr Saakashvili will certainly face difficulty, Mr Rar said on a broadcast on the Russian News Service. Sandro Viola, a well-known Italian international journalist, published an article in the Roman newspaper Reppublica, where he commented on the recent events in South Ossetia and Georgia’s attempt to join NATO. “It’s a big success of the European allies, as they managed to hold the American president from going over the brink. Just think of the messy and explosive situation that we’d be facing today if the European allies hadn’t managed to prevent the entry of Georgia into NATO at the last summit, a bid that had the very active and persistent support of President Bush”.

14 August 2008

Yevgeni Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service


The Los Angeles Times said Bush Shares Blame for South Ossetia Bloodshed

US President George W Bush Messed Up Again… Couldn’t Tell Georgia and Russia Apart

Sergei Yolkin



One of America’s leading newspapers said that President George W Bush must answer for the disastrous consequences of Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia. The Los Angeles Times says the Georgian leadership was so stupid that they believed that the USA would give them aid if they got involved in a war with Russia in South Ossetia. First of all, America’s busy handling crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, secondly, the US cannot engage in conflict with Russia, as it’s the world’s second-largest nuclear power. The newspaper puts part of the blame also on Republican presidential candidate John McCain, as he’s been actively lobbying for Georgian interests in Washington. However, the main blame is on President Bush, whose anti-Russian record includes support for the so-called “colour revolutions” in the Russian backyard, condemnation of so-called anti-democratic crackdowns in Russia, whilst ignoring crimes committed by America’s authoritarian friends, and also Washington’s support for Georgia’s bid to join NATO and its planned deployment of missile defence elements in Poland and Czechia, right on the doorstep of Russia. Click here for a link to the full text of the article by Paul Craig Roberts, President Bush, Would You Please Shut Up?  (the Los Angeles Times carried an abridged version) (the author was a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and formerly of The Wall Street Journal and National Review).

14 August 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


Russian Air Force Recovering

Filed under: military,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber of the Dalnaya Aviatsiya (Long-range Aviation)

Editor’s Foreword:

I have noticed much loose talk that Russian material is nothing but cheerleading and derisive in nature. I beg to differ. Look at the article below. Deficiencies are noted openly, much more openly than in the West. It is refreshing honesty in comparison to the “happy-talk” “positive mental attitude” rubbish spewed by Western PR staffs. In short, we need a free honest Rooskies in the West! In fact, in the reporting on the Ossetia crisis, the Russian reporting is sober and straightforward, whereas the Western reporting is yellow journalism that would make William Randolph Hearst proud. Caveat auditor.



On 12 August, Russia traditionally celebrates Air Force Day. Although one Russian pilot was killed and three were taken prisoner during the recent conflict in South Ossetia, the national holiday cannot be crossed out of the calendar. On the eve of the holiday, Air Force Commander Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin held a press conference where he told journalists about today’s Russian Air Force and prospects for its development.

For the time being, the Russian Air Force comprises long-range strategic bombers armed with nuclear missile weapons, a tactical force, army aviation including interceptor fighters, a military airlift force for troop transport, manoeuvres and airdrops, and early warning aircraft. Besides that, the Air Force includes air defence and radio-radar troops, who are detailed with protecting key government facilities, industrial areas, and military command and control centres from air attacks. The Air Force’s main duties are to provide air data to all levels of the command structure, radar data for combat support of aviation, anti-aircraft missile troops, and radio-electronic warfare systems, electronic surveillance of Russia’s air space and to guarantee secure flights for both military and civilian aircrafts.

The composition of the Russian Air Force is estimated by a number of sources to be as follows: 90 strategic bombers, including 16 Tu-160 and 74 Tu-95MS; 124 long-range Tu-22M3 bombers; 20 A-50 early warning aircraft; Su-25M close support aircraft, Su-24 tactical bombers and Su-34 fighter-bombers totalling 800 planes; 725 MiG-31, MiG-29, MiG-25, and Su-27 (including Su-27SMK) interceptor fighters; around 300 An-12, An-22, An-124, and Il-76 airlifters and Il-78 tanker planes; 650 Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-24, Mi-26, Ka-50, and Mi-28N helicopters. In addition, it has 1,900 anti-aircraft missile launchers, including S-300V, S-300P Favorit, S-400 Triumf, and other systems.

General Zelin says by 2011, Russia’s Mi-26 heavy airlift helicopters and Mi-24PN choppers will be upgraded. There are also long-term plans to acquire over 60 Mi-8MTV5, Mi-28N, and Ka-52 helicopters. Between 2011 and 2015, over 100 units of new Mi-28N, Ka-52, and Mi-8 variants are expected to be purchased. New multi-role fighters by Sukhoi and MiG will enter service, and tests of the fifth-generation fighter will be completed. The priority of Air Force’s development, however, will be the improvement of the technology intensiveness of its units, which implies re-equipping with new and upgraded hardware, as well as maintaining and development of the infrastructure for daily life, combat training, and combat duty.

It’s no secret that until recently, Russian military pilots had just 20 hours of flying time a year, while the standard was 150 hours. A rapid growth in oil prices had limited the availability of fuel and lubricants. Young graduates of flying schools could not gain the necessary experience as they were not allowed to conduct solo flights because of the potential risk of losing expensive hardware. Meanwhile, it was necessary to keep the older, more experienced pilots fit for combat duty. Simulators, no matter how perfect, cannot substitute for real flying experience. These problems led to strange incidents. A few years ago Major Troyanov lost orientation in the Baltic sky and instead of Kaliningrad oblast flew over Lithuania and had to eject from the aircraft when his plane ran out of fuel. It was later established that Major Troyanov had had just seven hours of flight experience in the year preceding the incident. Lack of combat experience was among the reasons for the loss of two planes during the peacekeeping operation in South Ossetia.

Currently, the Air Force has enough fuel, General Zeilin said. By now, the average flying time among tactical and army aviation pilots has risen to around 90 hours a year. Special attention is paid to young pilots. The flying time for the crews of strategic bombers has also increased considerably. Starting from 17 August 2007, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS warplanes resumed flights over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. Since then, the crews have conducted over 150 patrols amid “counteraction by aviation of neighbouring countries”, General Zelin said. NATO fighters approached very close to our planes, sometimes beyond safety regulations, aiming their weapons, and our crews responded, although they have no combat missiles on board, by simulated firing at the “potential adversaries”, practicing repelling “hostile” attacks. In fact, it was joint combat training. During the 2007-2008 joint drills with the Northern and Black Sea fleets in the Atlantic, long-range aircraft for the first time in many years saw intensive action far away from their bases. They rehearsed the destruction of naval targets together with ships, naval aviation, air defence, and shipboard missile systems.

This year, army aviation crews conducted a few dozen tactical training exercises with live firing of missiles at aerial, ground, and naval targets. The exercises were usually part of joint drills with motorised infantry, coastal units, and Navy vessels. This proves that the Armed Forces command is focused on simultaneous multi-role combat employment of troops on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Joint drills of long-range aviation and Navy ships are scheduled to be held in the Indian Ocean this year. Last year’s cruise will be repeated, but, with new objectives and in new conditions. Another priority is the further development of the joint air defence system of the CIS countries, which is the only operational defensive system within the CIS, says General Zelin. Besides Russia, this system comprises the air defence troops of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and the Ukraine. The CIS is now facing the task of improving the control system of the joint air defence and securing mutual information exchanges concerning the situation at the frontiers of the Commonwealth. Currently a universal automation equipment complex for command and control centres is under development on request by the CIS Air Defence Coordination Committee. Air defence troops from the member countries are engaged in joint combat duty. Around 100 warplanes at a time take part in drills within this system. The Russian Air Force still has a lot of problems to be solved, General Zelin said. Nevertheless, it is clear that it is recovering, he added.

14 August 2008

Nikita Petrov



Editor’s Afterword:

All those tut-tutting about the supposed subjectivity and unreliability of Russian reporting are hereby invited to a luncheon of crow supreme, on the house! General Zeilin notes the deficiencies in his forces, he is implementing a plan to rectify them, and, most of all, he is honest enough to own up to them in public. This is because President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are not going to can him for telling the truth. Admiral Mullen, no doubt, would wish the same of George Bush, but, alas, he is not going to get it, I am afraid.


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