© AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSO
No Arms to Russia
By Dmitry Sidorov
Sep. 23 2010 - 12:32 pm
The times when the West was surprised and overwhelmed with the Russian oligarchs’ hunger for luxury are almost history now. There are smiling faces of European and the U.S. company heads here and there but in general we got accustomed to a nouveau riche pattern of their behavior.
The arms-starved Kremlin stepped in instead recently,announcing its $619 billion ten-year shopping-spree plans to purchase weapons and military technologies abroad. This news was unveiled by Anatoly Serdukov, the Russian Minister of Defense during his trip to Washington last week.
The Kremlin’s idea of the arms purchase from the West goes much further and is much more frightening then a simple import of high-precision weaponry. So it happens, according to Serdukov, that the Russians are seeking a license to assemble the Western arms at their plants and factories in Russia. If successful, the Kremlin will be able to kill more then two birds with one stone:
First of all the Russians will deny leverage to the West in the event that relations go south, instructors and engineers are called off, and Moscow is denied spare parts shipments for the supplied weaponry.
Second, arms assembly in Russia will ensure the Kremlin a continuous supply of advanced military technology to its armed forces. Given the totally unacceptable behavior of Moscow leading to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, and the Kremlin’s aggressive posture towards the former Soviet countries, this is by far one of the worst decisions the West has come up with since the 1960s.
Third, no stipulation in weapons and technology transfer contracts prohibiting the Kremlin to sell assembled weapons to questionable states will be obeyed by Moscow. The Russian arms supplies to Syria that ended in the hands of Hizballah during the Second Lebanese War in 2006 should serve as a clear confirmation of total absence of boundaries. As well as Moscow’s recent weapons shipments to Iran and Venezuela, that only added insult to Washington’s injury.
Hats off to the Kremlin that produced a brilliant idea marking a new approach to previously awkward and sometimes scandalous lobbying attempts in Washington!
By offering to pay a very serious amount of money for advanced U.S. arms and military technology, the Russians are not only providing jobs for thousands of workers at home, but also pressuring American arms producers to lobby the Congress and the White House on behalf of the Kremlin. Given the professionalism and the contacts on the part of the lobbying firms serving the U.S. military industrial complex, we can be almost assured that the Russian arms deal will be seriously considered. If that were not enough, the history of U.S. military interactions with the Soviet Union, and the USSR’s record of faulty compliance to signed international agreements, should sober up Obama administration officials, as well as Congressional and Pentagon leaders who might be inclined to embrace the Kremlin’s offer.
In 1955 the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary produced the following conclusion after looking into the Soviet historical record: “… in 38 short years since the Soviet Union came into existence, its Government had broken its word to virtually any country to which it ever gave a signed promise. It signed treaties of nonaggression with neighboring states and then absorbed those states. … [We] seriously doubt whether during the whole history of civilization any great nation has ever made as perfidious a record as this in so short time.”
During the Korea and Vietnam wars, Soviet tanks, planes, artillery tractors and the ships that delivered it to the North Korean and North Vietnamese Armies were either built by Russian plants and put together by the U.S. companies, or were constructed thanks to technology transfers from Washington to Moscow. The list of betrayals is long, and the record — either past or modern — is not very promising, to say the least. The U.S. should be extremely careful when dealing with the Kremlin no matter how lucrative their offer can be, especially when it comes to arms and sensitive technologies. This is not exactly the deal on frozen chicken we fought so long to renew for export to Russia. It is not even a purchase of Boeing civilian planes by Moscow, where we convinced them to go for in exchange for new computer technologies. The late George Carlin once said “… we are Americans, we are for sale…” What if he wasn’t kidding?
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