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Outside View: BMD deal lessons -- Part 2
by Pyotr Romanov
Moscow (UPI) Jul 29, 2008

Russians are rightfully proud of the S-400 air defense system, but there are too few of them on combat duty.

The hopes of the Russian people for close association and even partnership with the West during the eras of the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, have long since given way to embarrassment and then to disillusion. I hope the Russian people have now come to their senses.

I have said this before, but I have to say it again: The Soviet period in Russia's history and relations with its neighbors was very short historically. Relations between Russia and the nations of the West have never been easy or simple, so the Russian people were bound to return to the old path after the euphoria of getting out of the Bolshevik gutter.

Russia has done this, but it does not mean confrontation is inevitable. It only means that the Russian people are back on the same old seesaw, with short warm spells in relations with the West replaced by cool periods, and so on, like seasons.

In conclusion, it must be said that the current situation in Russia following the eight-year presidency of Vladimir Putin is unquestionably much better than during the rule of Putin's predecessor, Yeltsin, from 1991 through the end of 1999, when aircraft rusted on the ground, equipment was never improved but widely pilfered, and the money-starved defense sector produced pots and pans.

The Russian government and people now led by President Dmitry Medvedev can and must do more, both to improve the lot of men and officers, and upgrade the quality of weapons and military equipment, especially those that will have to vie with the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe.

It is good news for Russia that the Irkut Corp.'s Sukhoi Su-35 super-fighter, an interim model between the fourth- and fifth-generation warplanes, has made its maiden flight. But the United States is already mass-producing its Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor with stealth technology.

Russians are rightfully proud of the S-400 air defense system, but there are too few of them on combat duty.

The Russian government and Russian companies are exporting weapons en masse, forgetting that our own armed forces need them.

The U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system will become a threat to Russia, not immediately but in the not too distant future, especially in view of the funds that the United States intends to invest in the system's development. However, the Russian government still has some time left to work on its response, which must include strengthening the defense industry and reviewing Russia's foreign and domestic policies.

Russia needs strong partners, and the Russian government must do its best to win them. Russia must also complement cutting-edge military equipment with citizens who are willing and capable of protecting their homeland. Only people who are proud of their country can do that, and instilling such sentiments is one more, final challenge.

(Pyotr Romanov is a political commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


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Outside View: BMD deal lessons -- Part 1
Moscow (UPI) Jul 28, 2008
The United States and the Czech Republic have signed an agreement on the deployment of a missile tracking radar. Theoretically the Czech Parliament could refuse to ratify the document, or the new U.S. administration could change its worldview, or the U.S. Congress could refuse to approve allocations. But the likelihood of any of these things happening is almost zero. The deal is ... read more

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