Cartoon: By Jerry Holbert
Some time ago Mitt Romney stated that Russia remained the worst strategic threat to US security. Whether it is or not is a matter of conjecture, however Vladimir Putin appears to have a great deal of nostalgia for the good old days of the Soviet empire, a propensity for authoritarianism, and a desire to cultivate like minded regimes hostile to the West. Throw in an extensive nuclear arsenal and it would be a bad mistake to underestimate them.
Obama had a slap at him over it in his acceptance speech, but now old Vlad seems to want a massive build up of the armaments industry:
Russia needs a "leap forward" to rejuvenate its sprawling defense industry, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, harkening back to the ambitious industrialization carried out by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the run-up to World War Two.But don’t worry, he is going green:
"We should carry out the same powerful, all-embracing leap forward in modernization of the defense industry as the one carried out in the 1930s," Putin told his Security Council, without mentioning Stalin by name. Stalin, who ruled the Soviet empire with an iron fist for 27 years, is blamed for the death of about six million people but also is praised by many Russians for winning the war and industrializing the country.
Putin made renewed industrialization a priority during his third term in the Kremlin which started in May amid the largest protests of his 12-year rule. He conceded that the defense industry, once the heart of the Soviet economy, was in tatters. …
Putin's top defense industry official Dmitry Rogozin posted on his Facebook page a copy of a 1940 letter from Stalin to gun factory managers and accompanied it with a sarcastic warning: "Such methods of improving discipline also exist." Stalin's letter to the managers said: "I give you two or three days to launch mass production of machinegun cartridges... If production does not start on time, the government will take over control of the plant and shoot all the rascals there.”
Putin plans to spend $680 billion in the next eight years to modernize the military, with the bulk of the money going to 1,350 defense plants which employ about 2 million Russians. Many defense sector workers backed Putin during the election.
He sees the sector as a new growth driver for the stagnating economy which can help wean Russia off its dependency on energy. He promised to open up the sector to private businesses.Russia has some concerns with China building rapidly on its Eastern border and a growing militancy among some of the Islamic provinces in the South. In order to cover the cost ($680 Billion over four years) it is a fair bet that much of the new production will go into export arms sales.
Still, you have to wonder how all of those tanks, trucks, aircraft, and ballistic missiles are going to reduce energy dependency. None of them has a lot of potential to be driven by solar or wind.