India does not hide interest in the Arctic

Often, when referring to the Northern Sea Route (NSR), one can hear the definition that this is the “Russian way to India.” Indeed, the NSR is the shortest and safest access to the powerful, developing market of this vast country.

No pipe, even the widest in diameter, can meet India’s oil and gas needs. But shipping by sea is a different matter. It seems that India has been eyeing alternative routes for a long time to ensure its energy security. For Russian gas and oil companies, a partner such as India will help diversify the markets for minerals.

The development of the Arctic for New Delhi is also a matter of constant competition with another global player in the region. With China, which has already laid the foundation for the third icebreaker in the “Snow Dragons” series. India is trying to keep up. It is known that she has been eyeing the Russian project 21180 (M) icebreakers for a long time. These auxiliary diesel-electric icebreakers of a new type with a powerful energy complex and a modern propeller electric installation of Russian production are assessed by the Indians as ships with enhanced functionality. They are able to mill ice up to 1.5 meters.

In terms of displacement, they correspond to the Norwegian patrol icebreaker Svalbard. However, the practice of military-technical cooperation between India and Russia shows that New Delhi trusts more Russian developers and shipbuilders. That is more than once expressed in mutually beneficial and long-term contracts. The project 21180 icebreaker “Ilya Muromets” became the first icebreaker in 45 years, created exclusively for the needs of the Russian Navy. It is part of the Northern Fleet.

Proven partnership over the years

The reincarnation of the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov took place in Severodvinsk. With the active participation of the Nevsky Design Bureau, thanks to India. Russian shipbuilders have gained unique experience in the implementation of such global tasks. The Indian order made it possible to actually upgrade the Russian MiG-29K carrier-based fighter to the 4 ++ level.

Today MIG-29K meets all modern requirements for carrier-based aircraft. It is unobtrusive – 20% of the aircraft are assembled from non-metallic composite materials. To reduce visibility in the infrared range, the “cooled wing” technology has been implemented.

The fighter is equipped with the latest avionics, infrared target finder, guidance of close air-to-air missiles by turning the pilot’s head. The new radar “Zhuk-ME”, installed on board, finds targets at a distance of 200 km. With its help, guidance is carried out with corrected bombs and medium-range missiles.

Although the MiG-29K has a shorter range and payload than the Su-33, it is more compact. Thanks to the money of the Indians, is deeply modernized relative to the original Soviet projects MiG-29K and Su-33.

MiG-29KUB. 
Photo: Rulexip / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Military cooperation is being transformed into the Arctic Cooperation between Moscow and New Delhi. It continues not only in the military, but also in the oil and gas sector. This may allow India to become the first non-Arctic state to extract resources in the Arctic. 

Russian-Indian cooperation in geological exploration and joint development of oil and gas fields, including offshore projects, is rapidly developing. Indian companies are involved in the development of oil and gas fields within the Sakhalin-1 project and the Vankor oil and gas condensate field. It is worth noting that Rosneft is a shareholder in the large Indian oil refinery Vadinar.

Is China jealous?

Improving the delivery of Russian energy resources to Indian partners is also a priority. China is very jealous of India’s admission to the region. At the same time, the economic potentials of India and China differ.

China, in addition to having ice-class ships, has long been active in investing in infrastructure energy projects in the Arctic. India in this sense lags far behind. And it’s not just New Delhi’s caution. There are players who constantly distract India from projects that are profitable for it.

India has a clearly positive image in the Arctic G8. In addition, India has lobbying opportunities for a representative diaspora in the Arctic countries. Especially in the United States and Canada. Weak investment activity of Indian business structures is a profitable business.

Chasing two hares

India has long surpassed Japan and has become the third largest economy in the world, calculated in purchasing power parity terms. The consumption of hydrocarbons is growing every year.

According to the forecasts of the International Energy Agency, India will become the third country in the world in terms of energy consumption by 2030. Due to the lack of its own sources of primary energy, the country will increase their imports. And she is going to do this, taking the most active part in the development of polar resources. In any case, there is such a desire.

In this sense, Russia for India is a guarantee of colossal investments. The only problem is the inconsistency of the concepts of the development of the civil and military navy. It’s like chasing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, India does not want to lag behind China in the Arctic. But on the other hand, it is implementing an ambitious maritime strategy. The goal of which is to turn the country into the main power in the Indian Ocean.

Does India have enough finance, especially considering that the United States is increasingly engaging India in a clash with China through a four-sided military bloc, the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), which also includes Japan and Australia. Will India have time for the Arctic if it is drawn into the war?

The US is indeed purposefully luring India into a trap from which the Asian giant simply cannot emerge victorious. Indeed, Pakistan will take the side of China in the event of an escalation of the regional conflict. And a conflict between nuclear-weapon states can easily escalate into a nuclear catastrophe. This is already fraught with stability on the planet, but do such little things worry the hawks in Washington …

Divide and conquer

The development of the Arctic by India is postponed every time the word “Aksaychin” appears on the world agenda. A region of confrontation between India and China. Two powers that more than others can influence the radical redistribution of world resources. Can the United States allow such “gluttonous” countries, in the opinion of the Yankees, to approach the division of Arctic resources? The question is rhetorical.

The United States can say whatever it wants in the Congress, but the Americans will not allow the strengthening of the influence of China and the supposedly allied India in the Arctic. Their true desire is for India and China to moderate their ambitions. For this, Washington is making every effort to play off Beijing and New Delhi in a senseless duel. That is obviously disadvantageous for both countries.

China and Europe open competition for Russian gas

The infrastructure for the delivery of energy resources from the Russian Federation to the EU is much larger than in the case of export to the “Celestial Empire”, but Beijing’s prospects are more serious

The period of construction of new gas pipelines from Russia to Europe is almost over. However, in the eastern direction this process will continue further. Does this mean that the EU should worry about the presence of Russian gas in the near future, which may “migrate” to Asia?

China, Mongolia and Russia are developing a new Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline. It will stretch from the Russian Federation to Asian countries. According to Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Sainbuyangiin Amarsaykhan, the construction of such a highway can begin in three years.

In essence, we are talking about the creation of Power of Siberia-2. It will even more open the doors of the Chinese energy market for Russian pipeline gas. Talks about a new additional highway to the PRC through Mongolia were conducted back in 2019. It was not entirely clear then whether such a project would be implemented or not.

Now it became clear that the highway will be built for sure. The only question is when and under what conditions. This automatically makes it impossible to increase energy supplies to the EU countries.

It would be a great exaggeration and dilettantism to say that all Russian gas intended for the Old World may eventually migrate to the “Celestial Empire” and other Asian countries. Alas, the infrastructure for delivering energy from Russia to Europe is much more serious than for exporting to China. However, this does not mean at all that the European Union has nothing to worry about. The EU countries will still have problems with the purchase of gas from the Russian Federation. Power of Siberia-2, as an unpleasant bonus, will make them even more serious.

Will China take everything for itself or is it a myth?

Even before the construction of Power of Siberia, however, as well as after its launch in December 2019, many European politicians and experts, even from Asia, said that this project would be a failure.

Power of Siberia will not immediately reach its design capacity in terms of deliveries of 38 billion cubic meters per year. Last year, the contract provided for pumping only 5 billion cubic meters to China. Compared to the volume of gas exports from Russia to Europe, these are crumbs.

Recall that even in 2020, when due to COVID-19 energy consumption in the Old World was minimal, the supply of “blue fuel” from Russia to Europe, including Turkey, amounted to 135.75 billion cubic meters ( data from Gazprom Export).

The past months of 2021 also showed that the volumes of pipeline gas supplies to China are incomparable with those to Europe. The volumes of Russian gas pumped to Gazprom’s main customers in the first quarter of 2021 set a 3-year record. The company supplied 52.7 billion cubic meters to Europe.

Gazprom needs to agree on guaranteed export volumes with China. This is a topic for bargaining for several years. Then you need to sign a transit agreement with Mongolia. If everything goes well, construction will start only in 2024. That means that gas will not flow through this pipeline soon.

It will eventually pump even more than the first gas pipeline to China. In November of this year, the management of PJSC Gazprom even announced that the export capacity of Power of Siberia-2 could exceed the capacity of the first Russian gas pipeline to China by more than 1.3 times.

The dragon from the east cannot be underestimated

The volume of Russian gas supplies clearly speaks in favor of Europe – the current 135.75 billion cubic meters to the EU versus the potential 88 billion to China, and these figures will not appear in a year or two, or even in 5 years.

It would seem, why should the European Union worry? Alas, there really is a reason. The problem is that there are growth prospects for Russian gas exports to China, but in the case of supplies to the EU, they no longer.

Even in the coronavirus-crisis year 2020, when the world first faced the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced energy consumption, the average price of Russian gas in China was $ 150.2 per 1,000 cubic meters. For comparison: in the same year, the average export price of Gazprom to non-CIS countries, including Europe, was $ 143 per 1,000 cubic meters.

China loves to bargain with Russia no less than Europe. Sometimes it is even more difficult to agree on the volume of supplies and the price. The question remains open whether Russia will be able to attract Chinese capital to finance the construction of the Soyuz Vostok.

In the long term, the government and business of the PRC will be glad to increase purchases of gas from the Russian Federation. This became clear especially now, when, during the global energy crisis, it became clear that solar panels and wind energy cannot normally supply the “Celestial Empire” with electricity in adverse weather, which means that a safety net is needed – gas.

The prospects for increasing Russian energy supplies to the EU are very vague. It seems that there have been more gas pipelines in recent years. Nord Stream, Turkish Stream, Nord Stream-2. For some reason there is not enough gas in the Old World, especially now during the energy crisis.

Which one is more attractive?

Russia uses new lines, but at the same time reduces the volume of pumping on old lines. For example, if in 2019 92.3 billion cubic meters were sent to Ukraine (for the transit of part of this volume to the EU), then in 2020 only 55.7 billion cubic meters. The decrease in the volume of pumping through the Ukrainian pipe, in fact, turned out to be surprisingly equal to the size of the throughput of the Turkish Stream.

“At first glance, the European direction of gas exports does not seem as attractive to Russia as the eastern one (China). The reason for this is the active decarbonization process in the EU, coupled with cross-border carbon regulation, which will come into force as early as 2023. The value of the cross-border carbon tax for Russian companies are estimated at approximately $ 3-4.8 billion a year.

LNG from Russia is a lifeline for the EU, however expensive

It should be admitted that despite future difficulties with the supply of pipeline “blue fuel” from the Russian Federation, Europe can safely hope for the import of liquefied gas.

The specifics of LNG trade in the world economy today is such that this product, in contrast to gas pipelines, is more mobile. It is from the mains that the energy carrier gets from point “A” to point “B” and nothing else. But a liquefied gas tanker can always be rerouted from one port to another, where they will pay more for LNG at the moment.

This is clearly seen in the example of the supply of liquefied gas from the United States, which Europe was counting on in 2021, but most of these volumes eventually went to Asia – to a region where LNG was offered at a higher price than in the Old World.

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.

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.

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.