|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin Hits NATO, U.S. Stonewalling on Missile-Defense Cooperation
Nov. 21 (EIRNS)Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday took the occasion of his annual meeting with the top officers of the Russian Armed Forces, to criticize current NATO behavior in the vicinity of Russia's borders. He also expressed regret at the absence of an adequate response from the United States to his ground-breaking proposal for cooperation between the two biggest nuclear powers on anti-missile defense.
Putin said that the unstable situation in many regions of the world and the simmering of "hot spots near Russia's borders" leave no choice, but to build up all areas of defense. "We see that, in violation of agreements reached earlier, members of NATO are building up their military assets. At the same time, Russia's proposals, such as for creation of a unified anti-missile defense system with equalI want to stress thatequal access for all participants to manage it, remain, unfortunately, without an answer. Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to be indifferent to obvious muscle-pumping."
In October, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reportedly made verbal proposals to further the missile defense cooperation agenda, but Russian Foreign Ministry officials have stressed that no formal, written response followed.
Putin said that Russia's formal halt to its adherence to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which NATO-member signers have not ratified, was "a forced and necessary measure" in this situation, since "we are not going to adhere to anything unilaterally."
The Russian President went on to say that "one of the most important tasks" is the ongoing program to upgrade Russia's strategic nuclear forces. "They should be able," said Putin, "to inflict a rapid and adequate response to any aggressor."
In a parliamentary election campaign speech today in Moscow, Putin struck a similar tone. He accused foreign interests of attempting to destabilize Russia during the run-up to the State Duma elections, which will take place Dec. 2, by backing opposition parties. Putin is heading the candidates slate of the United Russia party.
U.S. Sends Written Missile Policy to Russia
Nov. 22 (EIRNS)Reports from Moscow today indicate that the United States did submit a formal proposal to Russia for cooperation on ballistic missile defense. This followed public complaints by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Putin, that no written proposal had been received, weeks after the 2+2 meeting of foreign and defense ministers from both sides in October.
On the table, has been the proposal made by Putin personally to President Bush at Kennebunkport last June, where the Russian President called for Russian-American cooperation on missile defense, as a move toward a strategic partnership. The proposal was hailed by SDI author Lyndon LaRouche as a potentially major breakthrough. According to AP, the now submitted proposal will be discussed when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Lavrov meet ahead of the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md. on Nov. 26. The documents deal with U.S. plans to install a radar in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland, and Russian plans to suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, or CFE.
Russia Plans for 50 Years of Nuclear Energy Development
Nov. 17 (EIRNS)"Economic growth in Russia has been accelerating since 2000. There has been a sharp increase in electricity growth, exceeding projections by twice. By 2030, we will be short of oil, and such plants in Russia are very old. Russia will create an energy 'kernel,' which will be nuclear-based." Thus Dr. Alexander Chebeskov, from the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering in Obininsk, laid out for members of the American Nuclear Society, Russia's plans for nuclear development for the next 50 years, at a Nov. 14 meeting.
Russia's nuclear "kernel" will be based on the accelerated deployment of its upgraded VVER boiling water reactor designs, large-scale deployment of fast breeder reactors, the closing of the nuclear fuel cycle through the reprocessing of spent fuel, and the development of innovative technologies. The goal is to move from today's 23.3 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity, to about 60 GW by 2030, constituting about 25% of Russia's electricity requirement. By mid-century, the goal is to have 100 GW of nuclear capacity, with fast breeder reactors constituting at least 60% of the total.
Dr. Chebeskov showed photos of the construction of the liquid-sodium cooled BN-800 breeder, which is scheduled to come on line by 2012. The breeders used mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, produced through the reprocessing of light water reactor spent fuel, which has been taboo in the U.S. for the past 30 years, since it uses plutonium. Under development is the larger BN-1800 reactor, which will have a higher breeding ratio, producing 1.23 times the amount of fuel it uses. While the breeders are being deployed, research and development at Russia's nuclear institutes will lead to designs that will enable the use of large reserves of non-fissile, natural uranium-238, and thorium. Dr. Chebeskov explained that even full reprocessing alone will not be adequate to provide the fuel for Russia's ambitious nuclear plan.
Eastern Space Center To Be Built in Development Corridor
Nov. 25 (EIRNS)Russian Space Agency chief Anatoli Perminov, Amur Region Governor Nikolai Kolesov, and the new Presidential Representative to the Far East Federal District Oleg Safonov each stated earlier this month, that the decision has been taken to build a new space launch site in Russia's Far East, utilizing the facilities of the Svobodny military launch site that was mothballed earlier this year. The adjacent military town of Uglegorsk will also be preserved, along with at least some of its skilled manpower. According to Perminov, the new center will be called Cosmodrome Vostochny (meaning "Eastern"). While the Plesetsk launch site in Russia's Far North will continue as a military facility, Cosmodrome Vostochny is destined to function side-by-side with the Baikonur Cosmodrome, currently leased by Russia from Kazakstan, as a second civilian space launch center.
Moscow sources familiar with the project said that President Vladimir Putin has already signed a decree on Cosmodrome Vostochny. Perminov said Nov. 14, that the project will be fleshed out during 2008. Kolesov, who has campaigned heavily for the Svobodny site since taking office last June, was quoted in the Amurskaya Pravda newspaper, as saying that 160 billion rubles (about $6.5 billion) of federal funding will be allocated for the cosmodrome.
Another active campaigner for the project, Development Movement founder Yuri Krupnov, has begun pushing for Cosmodrome Vostochny to serve as an anchor for a new development corridor in the region, extending eastward to the cities of Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and thence across a bridge or tunnel link to Sakhalin Island and Hokkaido, Japan. This Eastern Development Corridor is the subject of a lengthy article by Krupnov, appearing Nov. 23 on the KM.ru website. Krupnov's earlier summary of the Svobodny (Vostochny) Cosmodrome project, including the Eastern Development Corridor, was presented to the September 2007 conference of the Schiller Institute in Kiedrich, Germany, and was published in EIR of Sept. 28, 2007.
The construction of an infrastructure link between Sakhalin and the mainland was also the subject of a Nov. 21 conference held on Sakhalin Island. First Vice-Governor Konstantin Stroganov of the Sakhalin Region opened the eventtitled "Projects as the Basis for a Sakhalin Breakthrough: From Initiatives for Survival, to Programs for Development"and called it a "brainstorming session" for the government officials, local activists, scientists, and businessmen who took part.
Prof. Yuri Gromyko, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies, keynoted the Sakhalin conference. He argued that the future of Sakhalin is linked not only, and not primarily, with the oil and gas industries that are currently the engine of the island's economy, but rather with "demonstration of the necessity of building a transcontinental bridge, which will connect Sakhalin, [Japan's northern island] Hokkaido, and the mainland." His remarks were quoted in a Regnum.ru dispatch about the conference. "If these plans are implemented in the context of bringing in new technologies," Gromyko said, "it will become possible to raise the quality and standard of living to the level of countries in Western Europe."