Putin puts private pursuit packing

Cross posted from Right Truth

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree making Russia’s main state-run weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, “the only enterprise in Russia with the right to conduct foreign trade activity in relation to all products of military purpose.” Putin did this with one swipe of his ink pen. Done. Beginning and end of discussion. Sounds like the old Russia is baaaack!

Just who is Russia selling these arms to? China, India, Venezuela, Algeria and Iran.

Previously, the aircraft maker MiG and several other arms manufacturers had the right to directly export their products.

Russia’s arms exports exceeded $6 billion in 2005, setting a new post-Soviet record.

Last year, a report released by the U.S. Congressional Research Service said that Russia was ahead of France and the United States in arms deals with developing nations in 2005. It said Russia had developed good financing and payment arrangements, as well as extensive licensed production agreements to increase its market share. (source)

Putin will be traveling to India next week, but prior to that visit Russia plans to conduct the “inaugural flight” of the aircraft carrier-borne MiG-29 fighter jets being produced specifically for India. India plans to spend $30 billion on weapon imports during (2007-2012) and is the ‘the largest arms importer in the developing world’.

Through the sonic boom generated by the MiG-29, Russia intends to send a strong message that it’s keen to retain the edge over other countries in supplying military hardware and software to India despite deep inroads being made by Israel, France and now increasingly, the US. [snip]

As part of the $1.6 billion (Rs 6,900 crore) deal signed with Russia in January 2004, the Indian Navy will get 16 MiG-29s along with the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, now rechristened INS Vikramaditya. While 12 of these fighters will be the single-seat ‘K’ variants, the other four will be twin-seater ‘KUB’ trainer versions. (source)


So what is really going on in Russia? Viktor Erofeyev in the Herald Tribune asks, “Who’s using gas to twist the arms of its neighbors — Georgia, Ukraine and now Belarus? Who’s conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign against those same Georgians? Who killed the independent journalist Anna Politkovskaya and poisoned Alexandre Litvinenko before the eyes of the world? Who’s playing a double game in Iran?”

Our answer would be ‘Russia’. But Mr. Erofeyev points out that the Kremlin rejects all these accusations:

It did not abuse its neighbors — these were purely commercial issues, and moreover on territory that lies within Russia’s sphere of interest. The assassinations were obviously useful to the Kremlin’s enemies, and were apparently ordered by political émigrés. And so on. [snip]

Russia had never been as rich as it was now — this may have been largely luck, but it is a fact and the population supports Putin in overwhelming numbers. (source)

Sunday, January 21, 2007, ‘a Japanese fishing boat with six on board was captured by the Russian border guard near disputed waters off Hokkaido’ and ‘in August 2006, a Japanese fisherman was shot dead by gunfire from a Russian patrol vessel while operating on a fishing boat sailing in waters around one of the disputed islands known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. (source)

Putin said today that ‘Russia is ready for a constructive dialog with the European Union (EU) over energy supplies that is based on mutual respect for interests.’

Words are cheap Mr. Putin. The world has moved on from the day when President George W. Bush looked deep into Putin’s eyes and perceived there a worthy soul. What businesses will Putin take over next? Is this democracy? I think not.