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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

British Shadow Government Calls Russia "Threat to Security" of U.K.

The Beeb reports that British conservatives are beginning to rally against Russian militarism. How long before we hear from today's Churchill about the Iron Curtain, Part II, that is descending across the continent, starting in Georgia?

The UK underestimates the threat to its future security posed by Russia, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox has warned.

Addressing a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, Dr Fox claimed Russia was increasing its defence spending this year by 25%.

It was also testing more long range missiles and pouring money into two naval bases in Syria, he added.

That, together with Iran's military build-up, justified replacing Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system.

Dr Fox said the Tories were committed to replacing Trident nuclear weapons and, with so much uncertainty in the world, he warned against embarking on a "potentially lethal experiment in unilateral disarmament".

He said Iran and Russia pose the most serious "potential threats to our interests".


He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken recently "of having armed forces capable of fighting a global, regional and, if necessary, a few local conflicts".

The shadow minister said he had been "amazed" by how little coverage Russia's new military build-up has received in the Western media.

He said the country was spending 25% more on defence this year than last year and is testing new inter-continental ballistic missiles, and ordering new frigates for its navy, equipped with cruise missiles.

The Russians have also reportedly invested in two Syrian ports, he added.

If they switch their Black Sea fleet there it would be their first Mediterranean base since the 1950s, said Dr Fox, who repeated his warning in a speech in the main conference hall at the Bournemouth conference centre.


He also said that, along with North Korea and China, Russia had helped Iran to develop ballistic missiles with a range up to 4,000 kilometres which "could attack US and British forces in the region".

And he warned of the economic power being wielded by Russian gas giant Gazprom, which he said was controlled by "extremely questionable oligarchs and politicians".

If President Putin went on to be the head of Gazprom after stepping down as Russian president, he would be able to wield a "great deal of influence" over neighbouring states, Dr Fox told the meeting.

"It might turn out President Putin is a cuddly bunny. It might turn out that he is not. We should be in the risk business," he added.


La Russophobe said...

GUZHY: I think that's quite a brilliant proposal! America has already benefited greatly from the infusion of Russian talent through immigation and could continue to do so. What's more, some of those folks would undoubtedly have plenty of pointers for dealing more effectively with those who remain in Russia.

But you raise a very interesting question and I'd be interested to know how you answer it. Let's say the U.S. takes you up on this (it's quite possible, especially if a new U.S. administration with a more cynical view of Putin takes power, which is almost certain). And let's say Russians reciprocate, and start forming the lines you envision.

Do you think Putin will allow them to go? Would Russia allow huge numbers of its best and brightest to leave, or would the Iron Curtain come down at that point?

La Russophobe said...

GUZHY: Well, if there's no way Russian can allow it, then how far do you think the Kremlin would be prepared to go to stop it? The darkest days?

Is there any step the Kremlin could take as part of such a crackdown that you think would provoke serious opposition from the population?

You know, an offer from America isn't the only way this could happen. Russia's economy is in serious jeapardy because it's dependent on the price of oil (the Kremlin won't develop other sectors because they could create centers of opposition). So if the price drops, people's standard of living could drop precipitously (that is, the relatively small group that is benefiting from oil prices) and they might then seek to flee. Whether they'd go to the US or elsewhere is almost academic (Canada would love to have them), the main point is that they'd start leaving.