Is Shoigu most probable Vladimir Putin’s heir?

Sergei Shoigu was extremely popular even before Putin appeared on the arena, and in his native Tuva, some consider him the reincarnation of a mythical military leader

For the first time, Vladimir Putin was elected Russian president quite a long time ago – in 2000. The world was different then. Russia, of course, was no exception. This was even before the terrorist attacks on the United States, which marked the beginning of the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and greatly influenced not only geopolitics, but also further relations between Moscow and Washington. In those early days and years of Putin’s mandate, relations between Russia and the United States, especially when compared with the present, could even be called idyllic.

Of course, they weren’t perfect. But then US viewed Russia as a country that no longer poses a threat, as it did during the Cold War. Moreover, the United States saw Russia as a new economic partner and a new sales market. For ordinary Russian citizens, this meant the end of the so-called shock doctrine. Or apparent transition from socialism to capitalism. By the very nature of the new system, a small part of people became fabulously rich and influential (oligarchs). However, most of the people slipped down into poverty.

The first Russian president after the collapse of the USSR, Boris Yeltsin, did a lot for such a Russian future. The West was pleased, although it understood that Boris was not a “stable” leader. When his two mandates ended, it was time to look for an heir. He found him in his close associate, Vladimir Putin, who was then (in 1999) 47 years old.

West was happy with Putin winning against Communist candidate Zyuganov

As the Kremlin’s “elect”, Putin easily won the election in the first round, receiving 53.4% ​​of the vote. At the time, no one in the West asked whether these elections were “democratic and fair”. In the West, they were happy that Putin had won, and not his rival Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party, who came in second with 29.5% of the vote.

The tense relations between Russia and the United States as we know them today developed later. It all started when Putin “came up with an idea” to revive Russia and make sure that his country, even if it is capitalist now, does not serve exclusively as a place of Western interests. Tensions increased even more when Russia openly supported Syria a decade ago (the West listed it for “regime change”). Since 2015, Russia has been providing it with direct military support. Of course, the escalation reached its peak due to the Ukrainian crisis and the Russian withdrawal of Crimea in 2014.

Since then, we have seen only further divergence. Return to quasi-idyllic times can hardly be expected. The maximum that can be expected in a positive sense is the establishment of certain pragmatic relations, which will become possible, probably, when the international position of the United States is further weakened (today, after the withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan, we are apparently witnessing this) …

After many years, Putin remained the president of the Russian Federation. In principle, he remained in power since 2000, although from 2008 to 2012 he served as prime minister. Dmitry Medvedev was president for four years. But it is clear that Medvedev was only “holding the seat” for Putin and his return to the presidency.

Will Putin stay in power till he is 83?

Today, Putin has further consolidated his power by changing the constitution. It theoretically allows him to remain in power until 2036. Now Vladimir Putin is 68 years old, that is, in 2036 he will be 83. Is he really planning to rule for so long?

There are those who believe that it is likely that Putin will choose an heir instead of reigning himself until 2036. He himself never publicly announced the names of possible successors. For many years, a variety of assumptions have been made about who this could be. Over time, the names change, but for quite some time now one sounds more often than others. We are talking about a close associate of Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu may well become a successor. Because, among other things, he is the second most popular politician in the Russian domestic political arena after Putin

In addition, Shoigu is a very unusual person in the Russian political elite. Despite his name, which sounds in Russian, he has an interesting background. He comes from the Russian Republic of Tuva. Republic is located on the border with Mongolia. Of course, this is an exotic part of Russia. Shoigu is one of the few representatives of Russian ethnic minorities with such a high position. Before becoming Minister of Defense, he headed the Moscow Region.

The name of Sergei Shoigu is undoubtedly heard today both in Russia and in the world. At a time when Russia is increasingly asserting itself in the international arena, the Minister of Defense is being spoken of more and more often. Therefore, the name of Sergei Shoigu is often heard in connection with the war in Syria, where Russia played a key role, as well as in connection with recent peace missions (Nagorno-Karabakh and the Central African Republic).

About Sergei Shoigu

In his native Tuva, Shoigu, of course, is considered a hero. It is interesting that some there consider him to be almost the reincarnation of Subedei, the famous Mongol military leader who devastated the territory of modern Russia and Ukraine eight centuries ago …

Shoigu began his career in the early 90s as head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. For this reason alone, we can say that Shoigu is one of the “long-livers” in the Russian ruling circles. He was 36 years old when he became minister in 1991 (Shoigu was born on May 21, 1955). Immediately after taking office, he showed himself to be a very capable manager. He ran the ministry effectively and created an almost military structure and order there. Therefore, Shoigu enjoyed exceptional popularity in the early 90s, long before Putin became president.

Sergei Shoigu was born in the small town of Tyva Chadan. Population about nine thousand people. His father is an ethnic Tuvan Kuzhuget Shoigu. His mother is Russian, a native of Ukraine, Alexandra Yakovlevna. After leaving school in Tuva, he graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in Krasnoyarsk and became an engineer. For the next ten years, he worked on construction sites in different parts of the country. In the late 1980s, he entered politics and took a low position in a branch of the then ruling Communist Party.

In 1990 he came to Moscow and became Deputy Chairman of the State Committee of the RSFSR for Architecture and Construction. His appointment to the post of Minister of Emergency Situations brought him immense popularity, but his work and efficiency are behind this rise. Whatever happened: floods, earthquakes or terrorist attacks – Shoigu in any situation went to the place and did everything necessary.

He is certainly popular

Since the late 90s, he has been one of the leaders of the modern ruling United Russia party (at the time of its foundation it was called Unity). In 2000, Shoigu was not a deputy prime minister for long, but he started his main business a little less than ten years ago, when in 2012 he became (and remains to this day) defense minister (until then, he headed the Ministry of Emergency Situations).

Today, this man, of course, raises the popularity of the ruling party, which has been losing its supporters for some time now.

Undoubtedly, Putin has a favorite heir, which is practically necessary given that it would otherwise be chaotic if he dies suddenly. The name of the heir is kept in the strictest confidence and will definitely not be revealed while Putin is alive or until he declares that he is retiring.

Sergei Shoigu often appears with Putin during his break from politics. These two love to spend time in nature, hunting or relaxing in field conditions … Putin is in the foreground, but most often Defense Minister Shoigu stands behind him. Many people understand that these photos, which appear on the official pages of the Russian president, are not there by chance. Of course, the thought suggests itself that it is Sergei Shoigu who may become the one who is being talked about more and more, trying to look into the Russian future.

India will help Russia turn Arctic into global trade route

New Delhi is planning to assist in developing Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR). And turning it into an international trade artery, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“India will help Russia in the development of the Northern Sea Route and opening this route for international trade the same way as Russia helps India to develop with the aim of space exploration and the preparation of the national manned Gaganyaan program,” Modi said, speaking via video link at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.

The Indian prime minister also said Moscow and New Delhi had managed to make significant progress in developing commercial ties despite massive disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The friendship between India and Russia has stood up against the test of time,” he said.

“Most recently, it was seen in our robust cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic, including in the area of vaccines. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the health and pharma sectors in our bilateral cooperation.”

According to the Indian head of state, an energy partnership between the two nations would bring greater stability to the global energy market.

Modi also said that such joint projects as the Chennai-Vladivostok sea corridor, which is currently under development, provide greater connectivity along with the North-South transport corridor.


Major deal on developing Russia’s Big Northern Sea Route sealed at Eastern Economic Forum

A broad agreement aimed at providing stable growth of exports, cabotage and transit traffic along Russia’s Arctic sea route has been signed at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Friday.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Ministry for Development of the Far East and the Arctic agreed to closely cooperate on projects aimed at developing the transport artery stretching along Russia’s Arctic coast.

“The Big Northern Sea Route from Murmansk to Vladivostok plays an important role in transport security, and connects by sea the European part of Russia with the Far East,” Rosatom’s director general, Aleksey Likhachev, told the media on the sidelines of the EEF.

“We are interested in promoting cooperation under this project with both Russian and foreign counterparts,” he added.

The Northern Sea Route lies from the Kara Gate Strait in the west to Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka in the east. The Big Northern Sea Route includes the Arkhangelsk, Murmansk regions and St. Petersburg and the Far East from the Northern Sea Route’s border in Chukotka to Vladivostok. The 5,500-kilometer (3,417-mile) lane is the shortest sea passage between Europe and Asia.

I thought Italy would be next to leave the EU… But…

Now I’m convinced it will be Hungary because it looks like Brexit all over again

Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.I believe Viktor Orban could be readying his country for ‘Huxit’. If he is not, then he is playing a high-stakes game of poker with the overlords in Brussels.


Earlier this week, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) ran a headline saying, “it is time to talk about Huxit.” This is a huge development because the newspaper is considered to be the unofficial mouthpiece of Orban’s government. Till then it looked like Italy would be the next to leave EU.   

Last month, the newspaper announced that “the time has come, now in July 2021, to seriously consider the possibility of our withdrawal from a union of states with a thousand bleeding wounds, showing imperial symptoms, and treating the eastern and central European countries incredibly arrogantly.

The newspaper also stated that there is a culture clash between Western and Eastern European values, something I argued on RT.com last month. Similarly, Magyar Nemzetopined that “our paths have diverged as the West now consciously… breaks from Christian morality and values. Instead, they aim to build a cosmopolitan, faceless world society based on the unbridled self-enjoyment and self-destruction of the individual… we Hungarians, Poles and central and eastern European people hold on to our cultural and religious foundations.”

Reading this came like a welcome dose of déjà vu to an old Brexiteer like myself. All the way back in November 2010, the Daily Express, became the first mainstream British newspaper to come out in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

The Daily Express announced that “from this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.” And continued, “after far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.”

To put the importance of this announcement into some perspective, this was the first time that a mainstream British newspaper had come out in favour of withdrawal from Europe since the 1975 referendum. Suddenly, being in favour of what later became known as Brexit was not the preserve of “cranks and political gadflies,” as one Conservative Party leader called us, and instead became a mainstream idea. In fact, the brave decision taken by the Daily Express was one of the most important events on the long and rocky road to 2016’s Brexit.   

 And now we have history repeating itself in Hungary. It surely cannot be a coincidence that a mainstream Hungarian newspaper is now questioning its country’s membership of the bloc, especially one with links to the government. I would argue that this has come straight from the Brexit playbook.

And it seems as if Brussels is waking up to fact that Hungary is seriously considering making a dash for the exit door. Yesterday, it was announced that the European Commission had missed the deadline to impose financial penalties on Hungary for not complying with the bloc’s“values.”  This will undoubtedly trigger an inter-institutional conflict in Brussels, as the European Parliament has demanded that Orban’s Hungary be punished. The dispute may well end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the European Parliament is determined to punish Hungary for its stance regarding LGBTQ rights.   

However, the fact that the European Commission, which is not bound by public opinion like the European Parliament, is not prepared to invoke sanctions against Hungary is most informative. Whereas the EU was all too eager to recently punish Poland, maybe because it was confident that its government would back down, it seems to be treating Hungary with kid gloves. Maybe the penny has finally dropped in Brussels, and they have realised that to impose financial sanctions would play right into Orban’s hands.   

It could be argued that Orban is playing a high-risk game – but that is only the case if he really wants to stay in the EU – and I am not convinced that he does. I suspect that Orban is carefully dipping his toe in the Huxit bath. If he finds the water agreeable, he may well plunge right in, which could spark a crisis in the EU even worse than Brexit. You see, the UK was never really a comfortable member of the EU. It was a reluctant partner, but never a friend, which made divorce at some point an inevitability. 

Hungary, however, is much different, as it is client state of Brussels bean-counters. It is a net benefactor of EU funds, and unlike the UK, which handed over cash to Brussels as if it were confetti, it is in receipt of millions of euros every year. But in the end, Hungary may decide that money isn’t everything, and traditional values are more important. And if this does happen, I wouldn’t bet against other Eastern European states following suit, as they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the West’s dictatorial liberalism.   

Yak-40LL flies with a superconducting electric motor

It became a world premiere: the first Russian “electric aircraft” – the Yak-40LL flying laboratory with a demonstrator of hybrid power plant (GSU) technologies flew to MAKS-2021. The flying laboratory flew off perfectly

TEXT: Natalia Yachmennikova

Experts note the clear coherence of the joint work of the aircraft systems and the GSU, which includes the world’s first superconducting electric aircraft engine. It complements the aircraft’s two turbojet engines. The use of high-temperature superconductivity technologies in the future will significantly reduce the weight and dimensions of electrical machines and increase the efficiency. This is critically important for aviation: flying is always a struggle with weight. And here we are ahead of the world by 2-3 years, because no one has yet demonstrated such an approach and such technologies have not been shown.

A 500 kW superconducting electric motor rotating the propeller is located in the bow of the Yak-40LL. There is also a liquid nitrogen cryogenic cooling system. The electric motor is powered by an electric generator rotated by a turboshaft gas turbine engine, it is installed in the tail section, and a battery pack. You take off on an electric motor, wherever possible, you start the gas turbine engine, recharge the battery at the permitted altitude, continue the flight again on electricity and sit down on the propellers.

Prior to the start of flight tests, the unique motor and its components were bench tested at CIAM. Then the GSU was installed on the Yak-40 aircraft, on the basis of which a flying laboratory was created at SibNIA. After confirming the stable joint operation of the electric motor and all aircraft systems during the ground test complex, the Yak-40LL moved to the flight test stage.

According to scientists, they hope to receive the entire set of technologies by 2026-2027, which will make it possible to create a regional aircraft on such a hybrid scheme by 2030. But we intend to go even further, namely, to use not nitrogen as a coolant in the engine, but liquefied hydrogen, which will also be fuel. It actually gives no emissions at all. This will be an even more complex scheme – for large aircraft, for long-range aviation. However, this is already the prospect of 2035 and beyond.

GSU “electrolyte” was developed by the Central Institute of Aviation Motors named after P.I. Baranova (CIAM, part of the Research Center “Institute named after NE Zhukovsky”) in broad cooperation of domestic enterprises. Thus, an innovative electric motor was created by the SuperOx company by order of the Advanced Research Fund. Among the participants in the work – FSUE “SibNIA named after S.A. Chaplygin” (SibNIA, also part of the Research Center “Institute named after N.E. Zhukovsky”), Ufa State Aviation Technical University, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow Aviation Institute ( National Research University). The customer of the research work “Electrolet SU-2020” is the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

– At MAKS-2019, we presented a model of this flying laboratory and individual elements of the power plant. And at MAKS-2021, it has already taken off into the sky. During these two years, CIAM and our project partners have gained valuable practical experience in the development of hybrid power plants and the use of superconductivity in electric motors. We are already using the gained experience in other projects, including the use of hydrogen as a fuel, – said Mikhail Gordin, General Director of CIAM.

“We create superconducting materials and technologies that are needed to create efficient electric aircraft. During MAKS, we, together with our colleagues, clearly demonstrated a very important step on this path – a flying laboratory with a superconducting electric motor made its first demonstration flight. In the future, superconductors in combination with hydrogen fuel will open up a real way to create efficient and environmentally friendly aviation, ”says Andrey Vavilov, Chairman of the SuperOx Board of Directors.

– In flight tests, the most difficult task was to determine the effect of blowing the propeller of an electric motor on the operation of the propulsion engines in flight and the features in case of its failure, which was verified during flights, as well as to determine the features of the longitudinal stability of the aircraft during rebalancing arising. Everything turned out to be within acceptable limits, – says the general director of SibNIA, honored test pilot of the Russian Federation Vladimir Barsuk.

All developers of aviation technology in the world are engaged in the study of low-noise and environmentally friendly GSUs, primarily for promising production aircraft of small and regional aviation. Their advantage lies in the ability, on the one hand, to benefit from energy efficient, environmentally friendly electrical technologies, and on the other hand, to maintain an acceptable weight efficiency by optimizing the design and operating modes of gas turbine or piston aircraft engines.

– The technologies that we use in our “electric plane” are a breakthrough for the global aircraft industry. So far, we are testing innovative electric motors at the flying laboratory, but by about 2030, the Zhukovsky Institute expects to present a number of aircraft with fundamentally different economic and environmental indicators, including noise and emissions. This technological breakthrough could not have been made without the active interest and funding of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia and the Foundation for Advanced Research, ”sums up Andrei Dutov, Director General of the N.Ye. Zhukovsky Institute.

“We are not a colony of the EU”

A new leader came to the fore of the EU

Since July 2021, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has risen to the level of politicians in the Old World of the first rank. Over the next six months, his country will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many in the unification leadership, this is an unpleasant acquaintance

He is considered a copycat of Donald Trump for the revised slogan of the American President “Slovenia First”. For his addiction to social networks, he is called “Marshal of Tvito”, and for his rejection of migration, he is called “an anti-liberal democrat.” But none of those nicknames would have attached to Slovenia’s 62-year-old Prime Minister Janez Janshe, a right-wing conservative, were it not for his habit of expressing thoughts bluntly. Jansha began his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by warning about the disintegration of the bloc, which could happen if some countries continue to “impose” “imaginary European values” on others, and immediately warned against considering Slovenia a  “colony” or “Europe of the second class”. 

Jansha knows what he is talking about firsthand: his political career started during the years of the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over time, starting as a left-wing radical, he turned into a staunch Slovenian nationalist. You have to pay for everything: the price was the damage to relations with Brussels.

Among the seven authorities of the European Union, only one – the Council of the EU (which is sometimes equated with the upper house of the European Parliament) – assumes the chairmanship of all members of the association in turn. This is the only platform that allows the EU countries that are in opposition to its course (Slovenia is also included) to declare themselves. In Brussels, however, they know how to manage a bureaucratic calendar. So, preparations were made for the appearance of Janez Janshi in the European political Olympus in advance – this event was preceded by numerous critical publications in the press.

The main message of most of them was similar: the Slovene, already well-known in the European arena, has changed a lot in recent years. When Yansha headed his country in 2004-2008, she had no difficulties with the European Union. But the ensuing global economic crisis and mass migration from the Middle East in 2015–2016 pushed the former European-compatible politician to a position of nationalism. Since then, he has supported the construction of walls on the borders with neighbors, quarrels with liberal journalists and judges, and prefers to be friends with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Jansha became critical of ideas that the EU considers to be part of their values, which lies beyond compromise: in particular, support for LGBT people. Together, this is a rather big burden in the eyes of the EU leadership, especially when it comes to a person,

That is why no one was surprised that a disagreement between the future partners occurred already at the first joint press conference of the Slovenian leader in his new capacity and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Union unites countries with different traditions, different cultures … and all these discrepancies must be taken into account and respected,” Jansha made a statement with subtext. Von der Leyen didn’t like it: “Freedom of speech, [cultural and racial] diversity and equality are fundamental European values,” she retorted . The European media saw the beginning of a conflict in this exchange of views, which seems convincing, because von der Leyen’s deputy Frans Timmermans reacted rather harshly: he refused to be photographed with Janscha.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks with Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. European Union leaders gather for a second day of meetings to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and to assess new measures on how to meet targets to become climate-neutral by mid-century. (John Thys, Pool via AP)

During the first speech in the European Parliament, the Slovenian had no easier time. Green and Liberal MPs (Renew Europe) gave him a cold welcome. “I am afraid, Mr. Jansha, that the events in your country do not leave us the opportunity to trust you,” said Malik Azmani, the people’s choice from the Netherlands. LGBT. This also includes corruption and abuse. ” Ska Keller, co-chair of the Green faction in the European Parliament, accused Jansha, a former journalist, of “a campaign to slander the Slovenian mass media.”

Eastern European Union?

Jansha has long compensated for the difficulties with the countries of Western Europe by rapprochement with Hungary. Until now, his support for this country was mostly moral. Like Orban, Yansha strongly opposed the participation in politics of the American billionaire George Soros and even entered into controversy with him through the social network: “Stay away from Europe, please. Your dirty money and so-called non-profit organizations have become the most serious provocateurs of conflicts on the continent. destroying trust between peoples and democracy. Brexit alone is enough. Europe needs to recover, ” wrote the  indignant Jansha. 

Another point of intersection between the leaders: Slovenia has long been considered one of those states, on whose help Hungary can count on if sanctions against it are put to a European vote.

However, as the  authors of the investigative journalism argue , Yansha’s and Orban’s connections extend beyond that. Allegedly, when creating his own mass media, the Slovenian leader attracted funds from Hungarian entrepreneurs from Orban’s entourage.

But on the other side of the business relationship, there is something that brings both politicians together, which is not limited to money. Both Fidesz Orbana and the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janshi assume that they represent small countries whose identities are threatened by the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, back in 2015, both states developed a common approach to the migration issue: the construction of walls. And Slovenia even got ahead of its neighbor, erecting sections of fortifications on the Croatian border, that is, directly within the EU, “protecting” not Europe, but the Schengen zone from states that did not enter it.

“Slovenia in the first place!”, “Without us, Slovenes, there will be no Slovenia!” – These slogans, considered marginal at the beginning of the century, brought Yanshi’s party an election victory in 2018. The local media, oriented to European public opinion, launched a campaign against the prime minister, but could not undermine his power. The relationship between them turned into a regime of mutual attacks. Knowing the attitude of Yanshi to the Yugoslav communist regime (which condemned him to a criminal term), the media called the prime minister “Marshal Tvito” – by analogy with the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Yanshe also managed to touch the sensitive strings of the soul of his opponents. While still in opposition, his party organized a nationwide essay competition for children on the benefits of living in a homogeneous country without migrants.

Small country and one very big

In the plane of confrontation between part of the Eastern European states and Brussels in the 2010s, a new player, China, made itself felt. A conflict with the European Union in the language of real politics usually means a willingness to deal with the Middle Kingdom. This is most clearly demonstrated by Viktor Orban himself: his country has actively joined the Belt and Road Initiative, the key element of which is planned to be the railway between Budapest and Belgrade. Orban readily accepts loans from Chinese banks, which are given in such a way that the money will be spent on projects related to the PRC. One of these is the branch of Shanghai Fudan University in Budapest. True, the outcome of this undertaking is unclear: the Hungarian opposition mobilized against it in the summer of 2021.

For Slovenia, which is at odds with Brussels, it is also about receiving Chinese money. The main directions of these investments are outlined by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: improving the port in the city of Koper, laying railways, participating in the privatization of local state-owned companies. The advantage of Chinese investment in the eyes of Eastern Europeans is the lack of political conditions and respect for local culture. A potential drawback is the growth of debt, which for a small state may be unbearable. This is one of the reasons why Budapest and Ljubljana will hardly dare to go east too far.

However critical in Eastern Europe (including Slovenia) some of the proposals of the pan-European leadership may be, for the elites of these countries it is not only and not so much an adversary as a difficult negotiating partner. After all, both Slovenia and Hungary are direct recipients of the EU’s annual aid, which they (especially in a crisis) are not ready to refuse. Therefore, we can expect that the verbal escalation between Orban, Yansha and Europe, although it will continue, but the critical line, both leaders will not cross. Their task is different – to be heard. After all, what seems natural for large countries with a long history of persecution of minorities, followed by late repentance, looks completely different from the point of view of small states (Slovenia’s population is only 2.1 million) without a sense of collective guilt.

Afghanistan – a unique chance for a military alliance between Russia & China

From Russian Point of View

The inglorious and hasty departure of the US military contingents and their allies from the territory of Afghanistan is today almost the main world news , discussed by everyone – from serious analysts to idle gossips. This is not surprising – after all, this event, no doubt, will have geopolitical consequences that go far beyond the purely regional level.

Already now, forecasts are being made with might and main, and numerous versions are being put forward as to what exactly these very consequences may be. There are already plenty of similar “virtualities” built. However, it seems that one of them is missing – rather non-trivial and extremely intriguing just for our country.

No matter how the events in Afghanistan develop further, where the war (both with the participation of foreign troops and without them) has not subsided for many decades, it would be extremely naive to hope for a peaceful scenario that will develop “by itself”. The wrong country, the wrong people, the wrong internal “alignments” and factors of external influence … It is unlikely that a full-fledged solution to the problems of a state that is about to “break apart” again will be possible without a “power component”. This is where a turn is possible, which few expected today, but more than real in the future.

Reluctant peacekeepers?

It should be noted that it is Russia and China (among the major geopolitical “players”) that have the greatest and most direct interest in ensuring that Afghanistan, with the withdrawal of American soldiers from there, does not turn into a new Syria, or something worse. Let’s try to consider their reasons specifically, albeit in the most condensed and schematic form. 

First of all, neither Russia nor China “smiles” in any way as an excessive strengthening of the Taliban, nor, even more so, the revival of ISIS, which is quite likely at the present moment (both organizations are banned in Russia). And regarding the prospects for a keen bickering of many smaller, but from this no less harmful Islamist groups, which can turn both the country itself and all the regions adjacent to it into bloody bedlam, we can say exactly the same thing.

Radical and militant Islamism is an extremely nasty thing, in particular, because it has a pronounced ability, speaking in medical terms, to produce abundant metastases. Its export to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia for our country will mean a sharp increase in the terrorist threat, flows of refugees and illegal migrants, an increase in drug trafficking, arms smuggling and a lot of other “delights”. China, on the other hand, has a common border with Afghanistan, and even, as a sin, in the Xinjiang Uyghur region, inhabited mainly by Muslims. 

There is no doubt that given the current level of Beijing’s “friendship” with the West, there will be innumerable people willing to direct the expansion of radicals under a green or black banner in this very direction. However, to the reality of the prospects of their attacks on Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, this also applies to the fullest. To “spoil the blood” of the Russians and their allies by the hands of the Islamists is for the “white Sahibs” the most proven and, alas, effective method.

It should also not be forgotten that the Chinese comrades absolutely do not need any changes in not only the bordering Afghanistan, but the Pakistan that has “merged” with it. They have very big plans for this country within the framework of the One Belt – One Road project, considerable investments have already been made there, and even more are expected. In Beijing, they definitely do not agree to carry out a grandiose construction “under the roar of cannonade”. In one of the publications I happened to come across a phantasmagoric version that the Chinese de “offered the Taliban infrastructure and energy projects worth billions of dollars in exchange for lasting peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, having reached an appropriate agreement. This is just ridiculous. The “Islamic Emirate” (and this is how the Taliban deign to call themselves officially) is, to put it mildly, not quite the structure with which one can negotiate anything at all.

And as for financial investments, did the United States greatly help the US $ 137 billion, which it poured over two decades into the “reconstruction and development” of Afghanistan in ensuring stability in this completely unpredictable country and keeping its own protégés in power there? The Chinese are not more stupid and certainly not more naive than the Yankees. They know how to take into account and not repeat their mistakes in the most beautiful way. And so, by the way, with regard to the United States and not only them … One of the most important tasks for both Russia and China in the current situation is to prevent the preservation and even strengthening of the military-strategic positions in the region of the Americans who are now carrying out an exemplary “drape” from it and their allies, as well as the penetration of other forces there – for example, the same Turkey, rushing with the ghost of “Great Turan”. Just let them go

A Commonwealth Time to Put Into Practice

It has been known for a long time that the US army (and, in particular, specific “offices”) are excellently able to “stay while leaving”. However, they are not alone – for example, the British Daily Telegraph, citing sources in the Special Airborne Service (SAS), reported that the British special forces may well “stay” in Afghanistan. Allegedly “for the training of the local military.” Obviously, those that today surrender to the Taliban in thousands and flee to neighboring Tajikistan. It is perfectly clear against whom all the military and other similar structures of states that have declared their enemies No. 1 not some Taliban, but Russia and China, will actually act from Afghan territory. In addition, Washington does not abandon its attempts to openly settle even closer to our country – in Kazakhstan, for example. This should not be allowed in any case.

Where do we end up? Neither Moscow nor Beijing can afford to “let the situation in Afghanistan take its course”, relying on “maybe it will be formed”. Could it come to the necessity of bringing certain military contingents into this territory? Let’s be realistic – more than. And just do not need “oohs” and “oohs”, hysterics about “the danger of repeating the” Afghan break “of the USSR model”! Firstly, even then, everything was far from being as disastrous as they tried to convince us later, and it could have been even more successful – if not for some strategic miscalculations of the country’s leadership and the army. Secondly, the experience of the Syrian campaign convincingly proves that it is precisely these mistakes that Russia has realized and is not going to repeat. Well, and thirdly, forgive the cynicism, if a state with the ambitions of a world power does not participate in wars outside its own limits, war will sooner or later come to his land. To paraphrase Napoleon, a country that does not create military bases on foreign territory will receive foreign bases on its own. In this particular case, the “alignment” is exactly this and the other is not available.

Much more interesting, perhaps, is the question of what kind of forms military cooperation between Russia and China could take in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the adjacent region? We will consider the topic primarily in a pragmatic aspect – Beijing, perhaps, is much more interested than our country in the material side of solving this problem. “One Belt – One Road” could indeed be extended to Afghan territory – provided a stable peace is established there. For our country, in turn, it is more important to ensure the security of borders – both our own and allies in the same CSTO. However, why not get additional benefits from solving these problems? The People’s Liberation Army of China probably has the military-technical resources to conduct a peacekeeping operation of this magnitude. The problem here is something else – the complete absence of an extremely specific experience, vital in this case. But just our military has it – and from some of them it was acquired directly in Afghanistan, which makes it absolutely invaluable. Each side has something to offer each other, realizing that it will be problematic for both Moscow and Beijing to cope with an incredibly large-scale task alone. That is why such a configuration of the Russian-Chinese peacekeeping contingent seems to be the most appropriate, in which the Celestial Empire would take on the main burden of the logistical and financial support of the mission, and our country would be responsible for its other aspects arising from the presence of a huge array of “developments” which became the result of both the previous Afghan campaign and the recent Syrian one.

Extending the Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China, the leaders of the two countries spoke very sparingly about the purely military aspects of this very cooperation. Naturally – after all, such things are not announced to the general public. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin emphasized that “coordination between Moscow and Beijing” undoubtedly plays a serious “stabilizing role”, including in the context of “increasing conflict potential in various parts of the world.” Ensuring peace in Afghanistan can be an excellent example of such “stabilization” in the Russian-Chinese implementation. And this will be even more important in light of the fact that, in front of the eyes of the whole world, the corresponding mission was failed miserably and shamefully by the United States and its allies.

The military alliance between Moscow and Beijing is for the “collective West” perhaps the biggest nightmare they can imagine. On this occasion, in particular, they have repeatedly and very sharply expressed themselves in the White House, calling the very possibility of such an alliance “a direct challenge to the vital interests of the United States.” In order to show that all these are not empty fears, but a very real prospect, over which the West really needs to ponder, the Russian and Chinese military sooner or later need to stand shoulder to shoulder not in exercises, but in a real combat situation, which fully checks for the strength of weapons, people, and defense alliances. So why shouldn’t this happen in Afghanistan?

The Russian nuclear industry to switch to the development of new civilian power reactors

The license of Rostekhnadzor for the creation of the BREST-OD-300 power unit was issued to the Siberian Chemical Combine of Rosatom (Siberian Chemical Combine, Seversk, Tomsk Region)

Aleksandr Uvarov, editor-in-chief of the information portal on nuclear energy AtomInfo.ru, told RIA Novosti that “Construction of a new reactor is starting in Russia and thus a new,“ land ”direction of reactors with heavy metal coolant is being opened, which is still nowhere in civil nuclear power. has not been mastered in the world ”   He recalled that Russia is the only country with successful experience in operating heavy-metal cooled reactors used on a number of Soviet nuclear submarines.

The power unit with an installed electric capacity of 300 MW with the BREST-OD-300 reactor should become the key object of the experimental demonstration energy complex (ODEC), which is being built at the SGChK site within the framework of the strategic industrial project “Breakthrough”   In addition to the power unit, the ODEC includes a complex for the production of mixed uranium-plutonium nitride nuclear fuel for the BREST-OD-300 reactor, as well as a complex for the reprocessing of spent fuel.

The complex will make it possible to create a closed on-site nuclear fuel cycle, which will make it possible not only to generate electricity, but also to prepare new fuel from the fuel discharged from the reactor core. Earlier it was reported that the launch of the BREST-OD-300 reactor is scheduled for 2026. The BREST-OD-300 reactor is intended for practical confirmation of the main technical solutions laid down in lead-cooled reactor plants in a closed nuclear fuel cycle, and the main provisions of the inherent safety concept on which these decisions are based.

The features of the reactor make it possible to abandon large volumes of containment, a melt trap, a large volume of support systems, and also to reduce the safety class of non-reactor equipment.   Lead coolant has a number of advantages. First, it slows down neutrons a little, which is fundamentally important for the operation of “fast” reactors. In addition, lead has a high boiling point (about 1.8 thousand degrees Celsius), it is chemically inert in contact with water and air, and does not require high pressure in the coolant circuit.  

The combination of the properties of a heavy lead coolant and dense heat-conducting nitride fuel creates conditions for achieving full reproduction of nuclear “fuel” and excludes the most severe accidents – with an uncontrolled increase in power (as in Chernobyl) and loss of heat removal from the reactor core (as in Fukushima). This is the essence of the natural safety of the BREST-OD-300 reactor.   The integral design of the reactor plant makes it possible to localize coolant leaks in the reactor vessel volume and to exclude the dehydration of the core.

This excludes accidents requiring the evacuation of the population, and this actually means that the radiation safety of the environment is guaranteed not by technical means and methods, but by the very absence of activity above the already existing natural levels.