The Blog

The News From Russia

1:24 PM, Feb 22, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Igor Khrestin, a researcher in the Russian Studies program at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in with news and links from the Russian-language media (you can also click here to read his latest piece in THE DAILY STANDARD):

In the wake of Putin's unequivocal rejection of the "one master, one sovereign" world order in Munich last week, the Kremlin is putting its money where its mouth is. Clearly displeased by Washington's decision to build missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated in an interview today with Rossiyskaya Gazeta that "Undoubtedly, we will react. But we will do so without hysterics. We cannot allow [Russia] to be drawn into a new arms race."

Russia's top military commander, General Yuri Baluyevsky, doesn't seem to share the top diplomat's views. In an interview with the RIAN news agency, Baluevsky declared that his country is being forced into a new arms race, while noting that "being aware of the technical characteristics [of US military hardware], we can with complete certainty state that despite declarations that these systems are not aimed against Russia, they can affect our deterrence potential."

In order to counter America's "aggression at Russia's borders," the Kremlin apparently plans a tit-for-tat response. The Rossiyskie Vesti weekly reports that Russia's Air Force chief, Vladimir Mikhailov, has made a visit to Armenia in order to lobby for joint missile defense systems to be installed on the territory of Russia-friendly post-Soviet states. The newspaper notes that a three three-tiered geographical structure is planned: European (in Belarus), Caucasus (Armenia), and Central Asian (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan).

In the meantime, Sergei Ivanov, who was only recently promoted from minister of defense to deputy prime minister, has been lobbying hard for increased funding for the Russian military. Earlier this month, Ivanov stressed the need for wholesale modernization of Russia's armed forces, while on February 2, an article in Moskovskiy Komsomolets noted that during Ivanov's six-year tenure as defense minister, the defense budget increased sixfold. During this Monday's national security briefing, Ivanov even proposed the military-industrial complex model as a means of modernizing Russia's economy. As reported by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Ivanov argued "with unhidden pride" that defense industry growth levels--10 percent in 2006--far exceed those in other industrial areas.