Cold War Part II (Cont)

Russia Tests ‘World’s Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb’
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
MOSCOW — The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world’s most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia’s state television reported Tuesday, the latest show of the nation’s military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.Channel One television said the new ordnance, nicknamed the “dad of all bombs” is four times more powerful than the U.S. “mother of all bombs.”

“The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability,” Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukhsin, a deputy chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in televised remarks. Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb does not pose an environmental threat from the release of radiation, he added.

The statement reflected the Kremlin’s efforts to restore Russia’s global clout and rebuild the nation’s military might. At the same time, ties with Washington have become strained over U.S. criticism of Russia’s backsliding on democracy, Moscow’s vociferous protests against U.S. missile defense plans and rifts over global crises.

….Rukhsin said the new bomb would allow the military to “protect the nation’s security and confront international terrorism in any situation and any region.”

Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to steadily increase military spending in recent years, and the Kremlin has taken an increasingly assertive posture in global affairs.

Last month, Putin said he ordered a resumption of regular patrol flights of strategic bombers that had been suspended after the 1991 Soviet breakup.,2933,296441,00.html

The “Dad” of all bombs? This harkens back to the old Soviet ‘keeping up with the American Jones’. Quite frankly, at this point I’m unimpressed. This is a feel-good ‘look at us, we still have bombs’! The fracture of the post-Berlin Wall empire has removed the threat of the Warsaw Pact, leaving Russia on its own as far as regaining status as a world power. Not that they don’t have support, though. They’ve been getting help from the government of the United States and other Western countries. Billions of dollars have been provided to Russia for the purpose of evolving into a free-market democratic entity, but has gone to waste.  I’m more concerned about their increasing ties to China, another longtime menace.  Capitalist money has only served to prop up the totalitairian regime in Bejiing, and has yet to result in a real opening of Chinese society.  Nothing like investing in enemies.  If Russia continues on this ominous course and succeeds in re-attaining world power status, it’ll be back to Cold War square one.

Putin Names Surprise Nominee for PM
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Associated Press

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin dismissed his long-serving prime minister Wednesday and nominated little-known Cabinet official Victor Zubkov to replace him in a surprise move that could put Zubkov in the running to replace Putin next year.

The nomination of Zubkov, who currently oversees the government’s fight against money-laundering, appeared to have caught much of the Russian political elite off-guard.

Putin had been expected to announce in December whom he would back to run for president next year and Russia’s two first deputy prime ministers–former Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and gas giant Gazprom board chairman Dmitry Medvedev–were widely considered to be the leading contenders.

After dismissing Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov triggering the government’s automatic dissolution Putin explained the shakeup was required to “prepare the country” for forthcoming elections. Legislative elections are to be held Dec. 2, and presidential elections are expected three months later.

….Zubkov also served under Putin when the two worked in the city administration of St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. Putin has regularly tapped former colleagues from St. Petersburg to head top posts in the government.

Putin is wildly popular among Russians, having brought stability and relative prosperity after the often chaotic presidency of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. As a result, whoever is nominated for the presidency by Putin is expected to win easily.,4670,RussiaGovernment,00.html

The Russian’s idea of ‘stability’ is troubling and perverse. Putin is a former KGB hack with a brutal reputation. He has had free speech proponents and members of the press intimidated and murdered. Media outlets in Russia are starting to resemble the old Pravda. And thanks to widespread corruption and Kremlin interference, the economy is sputtering. Unbelievably, there is a large segment in Russia who pine for the days of Stalin. Putin’s latest move is a consolidation of power. He wants to remain a major force behind Russian government even if he’s not in office. If elected, Victor Zubkov will likely be his sock puppet. As chief of the Financial Monitoring Committee, Zubkov is responsible for the responsible for the distribution of money. That, along with his connections to Putin as an underling, should set off alarm bells.

More on Zubkov:

Putin’s Surprise Power Play
Wed Sep 12, 5:10 PM ET

A few hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin fired his cabinet on Wednesday, a savvy Russian official was sitting over lunch, predicting that just such a move was imminent. But like almost everyone else, he expected that the new Prime Minister – and thus heir apparent to Putin, who is barred by Russia’s constitution from running for a third term when presidential elections are held next year – would be one of his two deputy prime ministers. “Putin won’t be altering the succession pattern, because the people are used to this,” the official said. “He’ll nominate Sergei Ivanov as Prime Minister.”

….A former Communist Party and Soviet state official, Zubkov, who turns 66 this Saturday, has never left Putin’s side since January 1992, when he became deputy to the former KGB man who was then head of the Foreign Relations Department of St. Petersburg’s city government. Putin promoted Zubkov to head St. Petersburg’s Tax Collecting Service. Zubkov then followed Putin to Moscow, becoming deputy tax minister, then deputy finance minister, and, since March 2004, heading the financial police.

In his fiscal capacity, Zubkov has played a crucial role in dismantling the Yukos oil giant, now taken over by the state. He has also groomed another top fiscal cop – his son-in-law Anatoli Serdyukov, once a furniture dealer and now Russia’s Defense Minister. Serving under Zubkov, Serdyukov proved himself a ruthless and efficient fiscal sleuth. Putin installed him at Znamenka (Russia’s Pentagon) to make up for what his other protégé, Defense Minister and later First Deputy Premier Sergei Ivanov, had failed to accomplish – to make sure that the Kremlin, rather than the military brass, controls the cash.

….Zubkov not only controls cash, but he also enjoys support of the most radical faction of the Kremlin Siloviki (the hard-line and hard-nosed conservative law enforcers and military brass who call the shots under Putin). This faction is led by another Putin confidant, Deputy Chief of the Presidential Staff Igor Sechin; former KGB Lieutenant-General Victor Ivanov, another Deputy Chief of Staff (in charge of cadres); and former Prosecutor General, now Minister of Justice Vladimir Ustinov.

But while Zubkov has been installed in the job that makes him Putin’s heir apparent, the question remains whether he’s actually being tapped for the succession. That’s a question to which even Putin himself, increasingly anxious to find a way to maintain his power despite the requirements of the constitution, may not yet have the answer.

Since Putin’s rise to power, he has re-instituted the old Soviet method of state controlled media and business, and installing a succession of cronies.
If the Proletariat isn’t careful, Stalin’s return may be closer than they think.

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