Back in the mid-2000s, in a conversation with a Taiwanese exchange student, the topic somehow turned to international relations (proof that I am not making this up just because it's now a hot topic). I recall asking him what he thought would happen if China was to invade. His response? He thought that a good... Read More
This is a very good summary and syncs with how I view things. *** To be fair, I respect Mr. Martyanov’s views and also read his blog regularly. It’s true as well that China’s SSN fleet remains a relative weakness, so even in my opinion he’s certainly correct there to an extent. However, I do... Read More
It is pretty evident that Chinese naval power is growing by leaps and bounds, with a lot of qualitative literature about it: Chinese military procurement ($70 billion) now half the rate of American ($155 billion). Adjust for purchasing power parity, and it should be virtually equal. If China is ahead deploying Railguns, electromag catapults and... Read More
While I have read quite a few books on WW1, only a couple really "stand out": Niall Ferguson (1998) - The Pity of War: Explaining World War I [download] does justice to its subtitle, boldly reinterpreting most of the standard narrative through vivid statistical argumentation. For instance, the claims that there was widespread enthusiasm for... Read More
Might be reflective of the national cultural Zeitgeist. For instance, China's is rather appealing, stressing duty, honor, courage, national defense: The US video features some random pointless adventure in the Middle East: Here is a classic Russian military recruitment video, released in May 2014: Translation: "This is … the first day of your new life.... Read More
It appears evident that it was the Syrians who took down the Russian Il-20 surveillance plane. Russian MoD claims that Israelis misinformed Russia about the target of their strikes, whose fighters used the hapless Il-20 for cover. This would make it a combination of Arab incompetence and Jewish mendacity. A most stereotypical combination. Now Russia... Read More
Along with the Altai Republic, the city of Sevastopol (5.4/1,000 took the test) is Russia's most patriotic region; Crimea as a whole (2.2/1,000) is also well above the Russian average of 1.6/1,000. This is bearing in mind that they only joined the “experiment” midway through. Adjust for that, and Crimea as a whole becomes one... Read More
Via Alexander Gabuev. Incidentally, Gabuev has long been skeptical about the possibility of a strong Russia-China relationship, especially on account of Russia's weak understanding of China (see my article on The State of Russian Sinology, where I cover his arguments). So it means something when he says that China and Russia are moving closer to... Read More
So we now finally have some limited clarity on the outcome of this year's first Syria crisis. US frigates, B-1 bombers, and French/UK fighters launched around 100 cruise missiles at Syria, incidentally taking care to launch from far away and stay outside the radius of Russia's A2AD bubbles.
What are they? Michael Kofman, who does seem to know what he is talking about and has studied the Russian language literature, has a very comprehensive summary. Emerging Russian Weapons: Welcome to the 2020s (Part 1 – Kinzhal, Sarmat, 4202) Emerging Russian Weapons: Welcome to the 2020s (Part 2 – 9M730?, Status-6, Klavesin-2R) How far... Read More
Some pretty strange things going on at Khmeimim. 1. On Jan 3, 2018, Kommersant reported: The destruction of seven (!) planes at the Russian airbase in Syria, including four Su-24, two Su-35C, and one An-72 transport. More than ten servicemen were injured An ammo dump was destroyed This was supposedly the result of an Islamist... Read More
1. I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan, or the US. As far as I know this is expert consensus. It has had impressive successes in both nuclear weaponry and long-range rocketry in the past year, but there... Read More
This is one possible interpretation of a recent report in Vedomosti, which analyzed a Russian Ministry of Defense tender for military insurance for the years 2018-2019. Included within was detailed Russian military mortality statistics for the 2012-2016 period, lifting the lid on a veil of secrecy on such matters since 2010. 2005 2012 2013 2014... Read More
Although militaries are fond of making grandiose announcements about prospective weapons systems that don't end up amounting to much, this is the real deal. The idea of the railgun is nothing new. The French thought up the concept almost a century ago, the Germans came up with the first viable designs during WW2, and there... Read More
Many recent articles and online discussions have been rife with the idea that the reason for Russia's "withdrawal" from Syria (which we now know is really nothing of the sort) was due to its mounting economic problems. In reality that could not be farther from the truth. Here's why: (1) As of March 2016, half... Read More
This is as hardcore cyberpunk as it gets. In other Syria news: Al Nusra attack in South Aleppo (later repelled). One has to admit this was an impressively well coordinated attack that betrays good training, for this region anyway. Well above ISIS quality or for that matter most of the SAA rank and file. And... Read More
Today a ceasefire has been agreed upon between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which unlike the unilateral ceasefire declared by Azerbaijan three days ago seems to be holding. This allows us to make some more conclusions observations on what happened.
Another (possibly abortive) North Korean nuclear test, another round of hyperbolic headlines about how Kim Jong Un is going off his rockers. Admittedly, this is an impression North Korea's state media - perhaps the closest approximation we have to a Real Life troll - is always happy to feed. But hystrionics aside, the reason for... Read More
It is in some ways remarkable that there is still no commonly agreed method on quantifying and ranking national military power. There is one such for economics, for instance. It is called the GDP. You can make somewhat different arguments on relative economic size or living standards based on various ways of measuring GDP -... Read More
They can, just not for nation-states. (The Arabs are an extreme case, but really, it applies to virtually all Muslims). Latest case in point: Taliban Fighters Capture Kunduz City as Afghan Forces Retreat No matter how many gazillions of dollars the US pours into training them, no matter how many shiny toys they get from... Read More
In recent days, some Armenians have been up in arms over increases in electricity tariffs by the evil Russian-owned electricity monopoly that will bring them up to... well, a level slightly higher than in Russia and about 2-3x lower than in most EU countries (don't you love comparative context?). Discourse in both Russia and the... Read More
It might happen this June or later, reports RT citing Israeli media. Obama and Netanyahu are at least discussing the prospect. In previous years I was sure that it would happen eventually, probably before year end 2012. That is because that was the most convenient window between the fielding of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (early... Read More
I always thought it weird China had the smallest arsenal of the world's five NPT nuclear-weapons states. In broad strategic terms, this would make it very vulnerable to the US, especially given the latter's development of ABM technologies, which would potentially give it the choice of an annihilating first strike. In late 2009, China went... Read More
In the wake of Putin's article on national security for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, there has been renewed interest in Russia's ambitious military modernization plans for the next decade. I am not a specialist in this (unlike Dmitry Gorenberg and Mark Galeotti, whom I highly recommend), but I do think I can bring much-needed facts and good... Read More
Though I originally meant to write my own analysis of what the Wikileaks cables have contributed to our understanding of the 2008 South Ossetia War, I realized that I would essentially be trying to duplicate the excellent efforts of Patrick Armstrong. (See also the New York Times article Embracing Georgia, U.S. Misread Signs of Rifts).... Read More
Another Wikileaks cable - a secret one, not merely confidential - from our Caucasus ethnologist and bestest bud at the State Department, William Burns. Dated October 2007, it describes America's perception of Russia's global arms trade and emphasizes its concerns that many of its partners are "rogue" or "anti-American" states like Syria, Iran and Venezuela.... Read More
This is a reprint of a post from Arctic Progress. This is a TRANSLATION of an article by Jules Dufour published September 7th, 2010 at Mondialisation.ca ("Le Canada: un plan national pour la militarisation de l'Arctique et de ses ressources stratégiques"). In my opinion its a tad too alarmist over the scope of Canada's military... Read More
Every so often there appear claims, not only in the Western press but the Russian one, that (rising but overpopulated) China is destined to fight an (ailing and creaking) Russia for possession of its resources in the Far East*. For reasons that should be obvious, this is almost completely implausible for the next few decades.... Read More
As you may have noticed, posting has slowed down in the past few days, mostly thanks to a combination of (1) Kindle, (2) 中文 and (3) the natural periods of apathy that afflict most non-pro bloggers. I don't really see that changing until the end of the year... 1. Sayonara, Luzhkov. Props to Jesse Heath... Read More
Sorry for not posting on either of my blogs for almost a week now and being slow on responding to the emails. I've been rediscovering the pleasures of old-fashioned book reading after purchasing a Kindle. I'm very happy with it. When faced between the choice of surfing the interwebs or reading a paper book, the... Read More
In this installment of my series on future war, I'll be taking a holistic view of ground combat. Unlike the case for naval warfare, which is going to be revolutionized by new weapons platforms - railguns, battle lasers, and submersible arsenal ships - developments on the ground are slated to be more low-key, albeit no... Read More
I enjoyed the egg-throwing scenes from Ukraine's Rada on the ratification of the gas-for-fleet deal with Russia as much as anyone. It also reflected the polarized commentary on the interwebs. The Ukrainian patriot-bloggers get their knickers in a sweaty twist. The academic beigeocrat Alexander Motyl (he of "Why Russia is Really Weak" fame some four... Read More
A few days ago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired a warning shot across the bow of the US Navy, questioning its "need" to maintain 11 carrier strike groups. He justified this on the basis of 1) "the massive over-match the U.S. already enjoys", 2) "the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries", and 3) the huge... Read More
The recent sinking of a South Korean (ROK) corvette, with the probable deaths of several dozen sailors, brings to focus the fraught situation on the Korean peninsula. Now the cause of this incident - North Korean (DPRK) torpedo or tragic accident - is not yet clear. Moreover, the two sides have a long history of... Read More
This post is about the future of military technology and war strategy in a world of informatization, resource scarcity, and renewed ideological turbulence. Be forewarned: while some of what I write here corresponds to the conventional wisdom, some is well off the beaten tracks, and some will sound like it's straight out of a sci-fi... Read More
I have long noted Russia's resurgence back into the ranks of the leading Great Powers; I predicted that the global economic crisis will not have a long-term retarding impact on the Russian economy; and within the past year I have bought into Stratfor's idea that the defining narrative now in play in Eurasia is Russia's... Read More
This is a summary of opinion polls conducted by the Levada-Center, Russia's Gallup, since February 2009, and continues on from the first post. Along with the original post Lovely Levada, this series constitutes a unique English-language reference for social trends under late Putinism as expressed by the Russian people themselves, rather than the limousine liberals,... Read More
I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.
One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.
Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.