Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /home/public/wp-config.php on line 27
The Good Old Days — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The Good Old Days

flag of the Soviet Union

The BBC reports on Russia’s Victory Day celebration: Tanks rejoin Moscow V-Day parade

Russian tanks and intercontinental missile launchers have been paraded through Moscow for the first time since the collapse of the USSR.

The Russian leadership has decided to revive the Communist-era custom of featuring military hardware in the annual Victory Day parade.

New President Dmitry Medvedev said the army and navy were getting stronger.

Observers say the point of the parade was to demonstrate that Russia is a serious military force.

The Kremlin insists the event, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, is not meant to threaten anyone.

All of the trappings of the Soviet Union on display are just for historical accuracy not an indication of any policy shift by the government of Russia [nudge, nudge, wink, wink].

Actually, the military display is a bit tired. Topol-Ms [1994] and T-90s [1995] are not exactly “cutting edge”, and the military hasn’t really benefited from all of the oil revenues, but Vlad [come on, you didn’t really think that he gave up any power] wants to remind people of the military options.


1 Badtux { 05.09.08 at 1:00 pm }

Russia’s military has definitely benefited from the oil revenues, but not because they’ve gotten lots of new goodies. Rather, now they have fuel and spare parts for their gear and can actually operate some of it. There’s still a ton of deferred maintenance (i.e. tanks and jets practically rusted in place) that needs to be handled before they can start getting the high-tech goodies they’re selling to the Chinese and Indians for their own military, but at least now they’re not a laughingstock like they were when Yeltsin sent the Army into Chechnya and starving soldiers with threadbare uniforms actually sold their weapons to the Chechnyans in order to buy crusts of food and warm clothing to keep from dying.

So yeah, Russia’s going to rattle its sword a little. Their military is still no threat to any first-world military, but the various Trashcanistans that have been thumbing their nose at the Ruskies for the past decade or so have to be sort of feeling nervous right now…

2 Bryan { 05.09.08 at 1:44 pm }

Most of the Central Asian republics have cut deals with the Chinese, so Georgia and the Ukraine are the real targets.

The major problem is that a lot of the heavy equipment was built in what are now separate countries, especially Belarus, and Russia needs to build its own factories.

The conscription system is not working, and they need to raise pay and benefits to attract people capable of using the new equipment before it is introduced. They waste too money on training new people, and tend to retain the worst, rather than the best of their military recruits – people who have no other skills.

The security forces are good and professional, but they need to rethink the real army and navy to be effective.

3 Steve Bates { 05.09.08 at 6:31 pm }

Tanks… for the memories…

(With apologies to Bob Hope.)

4 Frederick { 05.09.08 at 8:27 pm }

Good times. I wonder if the missiles are still made of Styrofoam…

5 Bryan { 05.09.08 at 10:05 pm }

You should be ashamed, Steve, but I know you’re not.

Actually, Frederick, it is easier for Russia to build them and leave out the internals for display, than to make styrofoam. Their plastics and polymers are not good, which is odd given that their chemists are. They still use wood fiber based packing materials that would be called paper if it were of better quality, but paper is another thing they don’t make very well. [Most of my books that were actually printed in the Soviet Union have turned to dust. and wood fiber was visible on the pages.]

They are excellent in some areas, and totally worthless in others.

6 Badtux { 05.11.08 at 2:24 am }

True enough on the army, Bryan, but in fairness any potential regional foe isn’t any better off and while NATO’s armies are much better trained and their weapons much more up-to-date, they’re very, very, VERY small and aren’t going to be involved in invading Russia anytime soon (not to mention that they remember just how well the *last* couple of times invading Russia worked — i.e., not well at all).

Most of the money seems to be going into the air force and the navy. The army isn’t even getting the latest anti-tank weapons that they’re selling to Syria and Iran. But as you mention, Russia doesn’t have the industrial infrastructure to mass-produce anything anymore, the days when they could churn out 500 fighter jets and 500 tanks per year are long gone. At the moment they’re hard-pressed to deliver the twenty Su-30’s per year that China and India are demanding. Their tanks and jets are no longer rusting in cow pastures due to lack of spare parts now that they’ve either reconstituted those industries or found alternative sources outside of the former Soviet Union, but any new technology being painfully dribbled out is going into the export market.

That said, they’re putting a lot of money into upgrading the weapons systems and avionics on their 80’s-era MiG-29’s and Su-27’s to turn them into machines that are quite competitive with most modern fighters, even if they aren’t buying new fighter jets at the moment. But they have to be nervous about the F-22 and F-35. Let’s face facts, there’s only one reason for the existence of the F-22 and F-35, and it ain’t because al Qaeda is going to suddenly acquire advanced technology and an air force. There’s only one nation on the planet that they can be aimed at, and you can’t blame the Russians for being paranoid about that big fuckin’ target on their ass. It’s not sabre-rattling that has them suddenly sending Tu-95’s to poke around our borders and Tu-160’s to rattle windows in England. It’s more along the lines of, “okay, so you have all this fancy new shit, but, uhm, we still have nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and ICBM’s so don’t get the urge to use that shit against us, okay?”. In other words, it’s fear underneath that bluster. Or you might say it’s the Russian national character, for which the word “paranoia” is too mild.

The solution to that is diplomacy. But given that the U.S. and Russia appear to be engaged in a tit-for-tat of expelling each other’s diplomats at the moment, that doesn’t seem to be too likely, especially with Mad King George still on the throne in the White House…

7 Bryan { 05.11.08 at 4:33 pm }

China has always been the prime threat in a land war, as they are the only nation with a land army capable of actually occupying Russia and Russians still remember the last time that happened.

They are xenophobic at a very core level with very good reason, as no one has ever showed up with friendly intent. They remember the American occupation of some areas of Russia following World War I, while most Americans have never been aware of those expeditions.

They are getting much better with technology as they lose some of their heavy industry. The new plants being built are using modern tooling and processing to replace the ancient factories that had existed in the Soviet Union.

They definitely have confidence problems and a chip on their shoulder. The Hedgemony keeps feeding into their worst fears about US intentions, and the former Soviet bloc nations aren’t helping things.