Streetwise Professor

November 15, 2007

As If

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:15 am

Via JRL, an article from RIA Novosti:

MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of Russia’s general staff, said in an interview with the Russia Today TV channel on Tuesday that the Russian Armed Forces were under no obligation to protect the world from the U.S.

Answering a question as to whether or not the world could count on Russia to defend it from “insidious American plans,” Baluyevsky replied, “Today, there is no need to be afraid of the Russian Armed Forces. However, I do not believe that the Russian military is obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans”.

Here is a translation of what Yury really meant: “I do not believe that the Russian military is remotely capable of defending the world from the evil Americans.” (I presume his use of the phrase “evil Americans” was tongue-in-cheek; if he said it in all seriousness, his statement would be the epitome of self-parody.)

Ignoring for a moment the paranoia underlying the question, it is a simple fact that the Russian military has virtually no capability to project power beyond the near abroad, and even a large military effort in any region contiguous to the Russian Federation would be problematic given the decrepit state of the Russian military. It has virtually no strategic mobility. Its Navy has some capabilities, most notably its submarines, but even these are much atrophied. Saber rattling Bear flights don’t demonstrate the might of the Russian’s strategic air power; quite to the contrary, they reveal its pathetic weakness. In a nutshell, Russia could undertake no militarily meaningful response to a (hypothetical) American military attack on Iran, or Pakistan, or N. Korea, or wherever.

And I think that may be the real message here. Specifically, Baluyevsky is telling Iran or Syria or North Korea or whoever else is sweating about the possibility of waking to the sweet music of exploding JDAMs: “You’re on your own, dudes. Don’t look to us for help.” Which, in the scheme of things is a very constructive message that makes a peaceful resolution of the stalemates with Iran or North Korea much more likely.

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