Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Russian Agenda?

I find it interesting how much talk there is as of late about Russian arms control and investments. Things that seem rather contradictory in nature, yet existent none the less. What kind of message does this send about the willingness of the the Russian government to really come to an agreement on arms reduction treaties, and how long will those agreements be upheld? Does the dwindling population and heating political world climate give her need to bolster defenses?

The ongoing START (strategic offensive arms reduction) treaties have reached an argumentative halting point in the recent weeks. Particularly, the US desire to monitor Russian Topols and reduction requirements have anything but pleased the Russian counterparts in the negotiations. The Topols of course being the Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles. These were developed in the 90's after the termination of the "Pioneer" missiles under the Treaty of Elimination of Intermediate and Short Range Missiles, and have further been developed into the improved Topol-M mobile missile. Russian negotiators argue that there is not as much of a need for such strict regulations of these missiles as there are for say nuclear submarine controls. Furthering their point by saying that since the US does not have as an extensive supply of similar arms that the restriction is unilateral, obvious in July when the negotiations concluded with the Russian anticipated reduction under half of that which the US had proposed. Negotiations are still under way and a new version of the START treaty is planned on being signed by Decemebr 5th.

Ultimately the point is that with such proposed purchases as the French warship, during this time of arms negotiations, is there a relative message that Russia is sending. Maybe not to the US directly but to its surrounding adversaries? The sale, for one, would mark the supposed first sale of arms to the Russians, by a NATO member (a founding one for that matter) since the fall of the Soviet Union. Furthermore there is great concern from countries such as Georgia and the Ukraine. They are concerned with the underlying reasons for such a purchase, curious about the ammunition capabilities and so forth. The US has voiced its lack of concern for the pending purchase, but do we have indeed have a need to be concerned? It would mark the largest Russian expenditure on an arms purchase. An expenditure that could be invested in the Russian economy directly, employing the local ship builders and modernizing the building market. Is this not a venue that would yield greater results for the country as a whole? Whats the rush for control of such ships?

The arms agreements with Russia and her consistent negotiations for more missiles and less oversight partnered with the search abroad for enabling the modernization of her Navy does not seem to give much concern to Washington. At least none that has yet to be expressed. But is it a sign for the future of Russia's intentions? The fact that she voiced earlier in the year that if provoked would be willing to use nuclear arms as an initial means of defense only adds to the concern. Many voice that there is no need to fret, this all may be an unrelated series of endeavors, I put the question out there: What if they are not?

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