Russia has something to counter USA’s global strike

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The Pentagon has started working on prospective systems of the prompt non-nuclear global strike. The new complexes will be created to supplement nuclear forces, representative of the Russian Defence Ministry Alexander Yemelyanov said at the Russian-Chinese briefing on missile defence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Does Russia have the capacity to neutralise this threat?

According to Yemelyanov, implementing the concept of the joint use of offensive and defensive weapons, the Pentagon started working on prospective attack complexes of the prompt global strike. “Those non-nuclear systems will be designed to address the objectives that are now entrusted to strategic nuclear forces,” he added.

At the same time, Russia is more concerned about the plans of the United States for the deployment to the global missile defence system. As many as 60 American anti-missiles have already been deployed in Europe, and 150 – in Asia. In the near future, their number may already near the  amount of combat blocs on Russian intercontinental missiles.

In addition, according to Yemelyanov, the US plans to start deploying new anti-missiles that will be able to intercept strategic ballistic missiles during the ascending part of their flight trajectory. The new weapon will thus make it possible to intercept ballistic missiles before their combat blocks get dispensed.

All this, according to the Russian official, confirms Washington’s aspiration to destroy the existing balance of power and ensure global strategic domination.”

Does Russia have an opportunity to preserve balance? Ivan Konovalov, Director of the Canter for Strategic Studies believes that Russia has even more than that.

“It goes about hypersonic weapons, and Russia has been working a lot in this direction as well lately. The USA has been working not only on hypersonic missiles, but also on hypersonic drones and airplanes, but the Americans are on the stage of development. Russia already has the Zircon missile – the anti-ship hypersonic missile that can destroy any carrier group or even fleet,” Konovalov said.

“Hypersonic weapons exceed Mach 4.5 speed, and Mach 1 is 1,224 km/h. The maximum speed that both Russian and American engineers hope to achieve is about Mach 20. Hypersound starts from March 4.5. Hypersonic weapons include missiles, airplanes and drones, but it is easiest to make a hypersonic missile,” the expert said.

The USA considers the concept of the prompt global strike as one of the most promising directions in the defence industry. The goal of the program is to build radically new non-nuclear means of air and space attack, allowing the US military to destroy strategically important and hard-to-reach targets anywhere in the world within one hour.

It is worth noting that then-Secretary of Defence Robert Gates claimed in 2010 that the United States already had the potential for an instantaneous global strike. Given the ever-growing unpredictability of the actions of the US authorities, the need to neutralise this threat remains extremely important not only for Russia, but for other countries in the world – at least for those countries that have such an opportunity.

Anton Kulikov

Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru


Pravda Report

Russia introduces new money for the first time in eight years

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Russia has introduced new banknotes  – 200 and 2000 rubles – on October 12, 2017. Chairwoman of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina and Goznak CEO Arkady Trachuk unveiled the new notes at a special press conference in Moscow.

Moscow will be the first city of Russia, where the new notes are going to be introduced. The regions depicted on the new notes will also receive the new money first. The 200-ruble note shows a monument to sunken ships in Sevastopol, the Crimea, as well as “Chersonese of Tauris” museum-reserve. The 2000-ruble note shows images from the Far East region: the Russian Bridge in Vladivostok and the Vostochny spaceport. Noteworthy, the presentation of banknotes was held via satellite TV link-up between Moscow, Vladivostok and Sevastopol.

According to Elvira Nabiullina, the introduction of banknotes will be carried out in stages, as they are developed in strict secrecy. One can already use the new money in stores, but ATM machines will be able to work with them only by December.

“This is an international practice, this is how the Bank of Russia traditionally operates, and this is necessary to counter counterfeiters,” explained Nabiullina. “We expect that the mass entry of the new banknotes will start in December, when both banks and enterprises complete preparations,” she added.

One of the main differences between the new banknotes, except for the colour, is the appearance of the coat of arms of the Russian Federationinstead of the emblem of the Bank of Russia on the obverse side. Since last year, Russia already produces coins with the coat of arms, whereas all the future modifications of banknotes will also depict the coat of arms of the Russian Federation, rather than the emblem of the Bank of Russia.

The introduction of the image of the coat of arms entailed changes of the entire design of the banknotes. The new bills are made from 100% cotton, like other currently circulating notes. However, the paper cloth for 200-ruble banknotes undergoes additional processing – it receives  polymer treatment to strengthen the structure.

The introduction of the 200-ruble banknote is conditioned by the trend according to which the lower denomination of banknotes wears out more quickly. For comparison, the largest banknote in Russia – 5,000 rubles – lasts for ten years and longer, whereas the 50-ruble note lasts for only 15 months.



Pravda Report

Profit of Russian Banking Sector Tanks Following Summer Bailouts

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Oct 12, 2017 — 12:00— Update: Oct. 12 2017 — 15:21


The cost of bailing out a string of failed banks in the last quarter means Russia’s aggregate banking sector profits fell heavily in September, going negative for the first time in years.

The total net profit of the Russian banking sector from January to September declined to 675 billion rubles ($11.7 billion) from 997 billion rubles seen from January to August, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said on Oct. 11. That is a fall of minus 322 billion rubles month-on-month, a big aberration from a two-year run of steadily improving month-on-month profits.

The drop in banking profit was attributed to a one-off recognition of “negative financial results of banking groups” that are undergoing a bailout with the help of the newly established Fund for Consolidation of Banking Sector (FKBS), the regulator commented.

In August and September, the CBR had to take over Financial Corporation Otkrytiye and Binbank (aka B&N Bank), the largest private banks in the ongoing sector clean-up yet, since the problems with Vnesheconombank (VEB) in 2016 and Bank of Moscow in 2011 that needed $16 billion and $14 billion bailouts respectively.

If this summer’s losses had not been booked then the net profit of the banking sector in nine months of 2017 would have been 1.1 trillion rubles. The reserves for possible losses went up by 6.5 percent in September and 13.6 percent year-to-date to 6.2 trillion rubles.

In the recent outlook upgrade on Russia’s sovereign rating Fitch dismissed the idea of banking risks, but days later issued a report cautiously critical of the Central Bank of Russia managing and spending on the sector clean-up.

Fitch estimates that the state has invested over 2 trillion rubles in the biggest state banks, or about 1.5 percent of GDP, through various refinancing and support mechanisms, which de facto represent indirect bail-outs. This spending came in addition to 2.7 trillion rubles cost of compensating depositors of failed privately owned lenders.

Part of the blame for the situation lies on the CBR, Fitch believes, as asset problems “are typically the result of aggressive growth through mergers” that included bank rescues under the old bail-out mechanism approved by the CBR.

Out of the 30 bail-outs, 10 ended up with the banks entrusted by the CBR to take over failed peers got in trouble themselves, including the controversial cases of Financial Corporation Otrkitye, B&N Bank, Probiznes Bank, and Tatfondbank.

However, the new bail-out regime, by which the CBR consolidation fund FKBS acquires and recapitalizes failed banks so that they immediately meet all regulatory requirements, is welcomed by Fitch as it should deter weaker buyers and attract stronger ones.

Previously in the old bail-out regime, the rescued banks did not have to comply with regulatory ratios while they rebuilt capital from income supported by cheap CBR funding, which attracted weak buyers to acquire rescued banks and transfer toxic assets into them.

Read more at bne.


Source :  The Moscow Times

25 Russian Words For 25 Years: Part Two

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Oct 13, 2017 — 13:00— Update: 13:11

Dmitry Medvedev with a cup of “Rusiano” (Vladimir Rodionov / ITAR-TASS)

This week I begin my trek through time in a traffic jam. The place: Moscow. The year: 2005. From there I make my way through the glamorous early ‘oughts toward the fraught teen years of this century, when politics began to shape everything, including the way we talk. Better fasten your seat belts — it’s a bumpy ride that no urban improvement program can fix.

2005 Пробка: cork, traffic jam; in Moscow the kind of traffic jam where you turn off the engine, do your taxes, give yourself a manicure, and finish an audio book to the accompaniment of 659 drivers hysterically honking their horns; пробки are worse in summer and when it rains or snows — that is, they are almost always worse than yesterday but not as bad as tomorrow

2006 Гламурный: any vulgar display of high fashion and wealth, often with sexual innuendo; also used to describe anything expensive and “in” among the rich and anonymous crowd; improbably used to describe anything attractive or fun, from kitchen tile to pre-Lenten Fast parties

2007 Олбанский: Olbanian, aka Albanian, but actually an incredibly annoying form of writing in online forums that uses exaggerated phonetic spelling so that автор (author) is the barely recognizable аффтар and гыгыгыгыгыгыгыгы means LOL which is sometimes also ЛОЛ; not practiced or understood by most people over the age of puberty (physical or emotional)

2008 Пиндос: an American in derogatory slang of obscure origins; originally a hearty Greek pony, пиндос was once used to describe the Greek settlers in the Black Sea region, but the sound of the word — half comical and half obscene — made it an insult looking for a subject; one story has it that the Russian soldiers in Kosovo started using пиндос to describe the American soldiers bristling with equipment, packs, and weaponry because they looked like overburdened trail ponies; in any case, now  пиндосы live in Пиндостан (Pindostan, aka U.S.A.)

2009 Перегрузка: Not reset; what someone poor soul with poor Russian skills stuck on a button so that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov could push it, smile, and welcome in new era of cordial cooperation; unfortunately, the button should have been labeled перезагрузка (reboot) and перегрузка means an overload of the system; very unfortunately, Clinton and Lavrov pushed the перегрузка button anyway, causing relations to completely short-circuit and giving the alt-right another thing to blame Hillary for

2010  Полиция: police, the new name of the vast law enforcement agency once called Полиция in pre-Revolutionary Russia, then called Милиция (militia) in Soviet Russia to distinguish it from the Полиция, and now once again called Полиция to distinguish it from the Милиция — a process, perhaps endless, that entails changing every station name, every stamp, every bit of stationary, every badge, every uniform, every vehicle marking and so on in 89 regions across 11 time zones; that is, a very profitable endeavor

2011 Рокировка: castling, job swap at the top, in particular, the decision announced at the United Russia party convention in September 2011 for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to run for president and President Dmitry Medvedev to revert to the role of prime minister; if instituted as part of the system, the Medvedev-Putin and Putin-Medvedev tandem may rule Russia until the end of time

2012: Оккупай: Occupy! what a few hundred protesters did in Moscow after a series of demonstrations against electoral falsification and for President Putin’s resignation, first near the monument to the Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbayev — giving the world the melodious slogan Occupy Abai! — and then in various spots around the city; after a few arrests and the unlikelihood of any demands being met — as well as the oncoming cold weather — the movement activists quietly went home to occupy their warm apartments

2013 Чмо: schmuck, weirdo, bum, jerk; of highly debated origins, this word is an all-purpose insult that can refer to stupidly gullible neighbors, smelly drunk people by the metro station, dorky science majors at institutes and, apparently, every American president in history, but especially Barack Obama, who has been declared a чмо on thousands of Russian cars, fences and toilet walls

2014: Крымнаш: Crimea is Ours, turned into one word and a meme that means: We took back our land from the fascist junta and NATO and in the process showed the whole world that we’re back in prime fighting form, up off our knees, and happy to push anyone out of the way of our national interests

2015 Ватник: a good ole boy, Russian style — the kind of fellow who gets all his news from Russian television and believes it, thinks Ukrainians are fascists and Americans are the devil incarnate, and generally thinks that everything Russian is the best — except for his car, sneakers, jeans, cell phone, contact lenses, computer, computer programs and apps, which were all Made in the U.S.A. but don’t count because the Americans stole them from someone anyway

2016 Русиано: Rusiano — what Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev thinks Americano coffee should be called in Russia and anywhere in the world except the U.S. Down with American-style coffee! Er, no, that should be: Up with American-style coffee, down with calling it American-style coffee

2017 Благоустройство: beautification, as in urban beautification — the process of ripping up all the outdoor urban beautification done the previous year and spending the entire three summer months — i.e., the only time Muscovites can enjoy the beautified outdoor urban environment — on replacing it, typically with badly installed tile blocks (all the better to catch your high heel on); 40-meter wide sidewalks (for strolling in bad weather); and specially imported trees that cost their weight in gold and die before ever sprouting a leaf; an urban project that has eliminated virtually all parking in the city center, caused  daily 10-on-a-scale-of-10 traffic jams; and has the distinction of being the only urban project that has made Muscovites long for snow, slush, and freezing weather in which no благоустройство can be carried out

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, author of “The Russian Word’s Worth,” a collection of her columns. Follow her on Twitter @MicheleBerdy.


Source  :  The Moscow Times

Russian Man Fined for Taking Car on a Hot Air Balloon Ride

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Oct 12, 2017 — 17:42— Update: 17:42

Garazh 54 Youtube

A Novosibirsk man has been fined for taking his automobile for a ride on a hot air balloon.

Garage 54, a group of automotive video bloggers, published a video in August of the stunt, which they dubbed “the world’s first flying car.”

The footage shows a lime-green Soviet-era Oka compact vehicle, strapped to a hot air balloon where the passenger basket would traditionally be, being lifted into the air with the driver inside.

On Thursday, Novosibirsk transport prosecutors announced that they had found the flying vehicle’s “pilot” in administrative violation of airspace use and aircraft handling laws. He was fined 6,700 rubles ($116), according to the transport prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutors requested that a Novosibirsk court ban the balloon owner from operating it until he acquired a medical note, a pilot’s license, and aircraft documentation.


Source :  The Moscow Times

Embattled Russian Cyber Firm Kaspersky Teams Up With Interpol

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Oct 13, 2017 — 09:09— Update: 09:08

Sergey Savostyanov / TASS

Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has expanded its relationship with global law enforcement agency Interpol, signing an agreement to share data to help fight cyber crime.

“The legal framework is designed to facilitate and develop cooperation between Kaspersky Lab and Interpol by sharing threat intelligence data on the latest cybercriminal activities, wherever they appear,” Kaspersky said Thursday in a press release.

The announcement comes as Kaspersky faces intense scrutiny after the U.S. federal government banned the use of its products in September amid concerns of Russian hacking.

On Oct. 10, Israeli intelligence said Russian government hackers were using Kaspersky’s anti-virus program for espionage.

The cybersecurity firm issued an immediate rebuttal to the allegations: “Kaspersky Lab was not involved in and does not possess any knowledge of the situation in question, and the company reiterates its willingness to work alongside U.S. authorities to address any concerns they may have about its products as well as its systems.”

News agency Reuters reported that it has been unable to validate the Israeli intelligence claims, citing Kaspersky’s repeated statements that it has not helped Russia or any other country snoop on computers.

The Kremlin also dismissed the allegations, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it “absurd.”


Source  :  The Moscow Times

Russian Military Strategy, Stuck in the Past

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Russian generals’ real enemy is not Washington, but those in Moscow who want to trim defense spending

Oct 11, 2017 — 16:53— Update: 17:35

T-72B3 / Wikicommons

It’s amazing how little has changed in the strategic outlook of the Russian military in the past few decades.

On Sept.7, General Alexander Shevchenko announced a major change in plans to scrap 10,000 old Soviet-made tanks still on the Defense Ministry’s inventory.

By 2020 only 4,000 tanks will be scrapped, while the rest will be modernized and put back into service or exported. “The changing international situation, the increased patriotism of Russian citizenry and the introduction of new modernization technologies have induced a change of plans,” Shevchenko explained.

Up to a thousand new and modernized tanks are being delivered annually to army units. The military maintains that the modernized T-72B3 — with reinforced armor, a better gun, French-designed night-vision equipment and a computerized command and control system (all installed at the UralVagonZavod in Nizhny Tagil) — is as good as a new T-90A, but costs only a fraction of its price.

This year T-72B3s have been supplied to front-line tank units in Crimea and in the Rostov region bordering Ukraine, as well as to units of the elite 1st Guards Tank Army in the Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod regions facing West.

These hordes of modernized Soviet tanks are backing up a Cold War-era defense strategy based on a threat assessment that seems to be deliberately doctored to justify a massive rearmament. By 2020 it may cost the nation around $1 trillion.

Today France and Germany have about 250 tanks each. Britain has a couple of main battle tank hussar regiments but has completely ceased tank production. The U.S.’ heavy armored and mechanized divisions that during the Cold War were facing the Soviets in the Fulda Gap in central Germany left at the end of 1990 to attack Saddam Hussein and never came back, reducing U.S. armor in Europe to one permanently based heavy brigade (that is, before Crimea and Donbass).

The massive tank fist that Russia is building up today seems to be a wasteful investment — but the same thing happened during the Cold War as the Soviet Union secretly amassed 100,000 tanks to face NATO’s 30,000. Most of that armor never saw any real action like the grand battleship “dreadnaught” fleets, built before World War I and scrapped after.

During the 1990s, as the great Red Army disintegrated, the strategic focus of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff never wandered away from its Cold War objective of presenting the Kremlin with the absolute worst case scenario of external threat assessment.

In June 1999, before Vladimir Putin was appointed President Boris Yeltsin’s successor, the Russian military held joint Russia-Belarus strategic military exercises called Zapad-99 with a scenario not much different from this year’s Zapad-2017: Western forces invade Russia and Belarus, but are eventually repelled and defeated.

Both Zapad-99 and Zapad-2017 featured a local confrontation that escalates into a large regional — all-European — war. Russia comes out the victor by delivering a limited nuclear strike, assumed to have destroyed a couple of cities in Europe and North America, scaring the West into withdrawal and submission.

After Zapad-99 such a “preventive” strike has been known as “nuclear de-escalation.” In 1999 this “de-escalation” was imitated by bombers flying over the Atlantic and the Arctic to designated points were they could fire long-range cruise missiles at the U.S. In 2017 an RC-24 “Yars” ICBM was testfired on Sept. 20, and bombers flew over the Atlantic, Baltic and Norwegian Seas.

Competing with other power groups in Putin’s entourage for increasingly scant national resources, the Russian military is peddling a mounting threat of war with the West, while at the same time investing in a defense perimeter in the Arctic and the Pacific.

Of course the true main opponent of our generals isn’t in Washington, but in Moscow — the Finance Ministry and the so-called economic liberal block in government — aka the “party of peace” — that wants to trim defense spending.

Real bloody wars are being fought on Russia’s strategic periphery, and the threat of them escalating is just as real, while national resources are being squandered and threaten to send Russia into an economic nosedive, just like 25 years ago.


Dr. Pavel Felgenhauer is a defense analyst and columnist in Novaya Gazeta, and a Jamestown Foundation Senior Fellow.

*This article is part of The Moscow Times’ 25th anniversary special print edition. To view the entire issue click here.

Source  :  The Moscow Times