This blogger is traveling on assignment. Vladimir Karnozov,
Flight's Moscow-based correspondent, presents an after action report from the
Russian perspective on the Georgia
air war in a five-part series. Here's Part 3.
War could tweak Kremlin's export objectives
Until recently the main direction for Russian arms sales has
been to enable the local industry to earn some hard currency in order to
survive in the condition of small domestic orders.
Now, a new age of relations with the West is dawning,
following NATO statements that its business with Russia shall not be "as usual".
growing wealth may prompt the Kremlin to make a change. Certain countries could
be offered weapon deals through which the Kremlin would seek political and
military, rather than pure economic, gains.
This change is already shining through in the case of Syria,
a poor country but a long-standing ally with interesting geographic location.
There are a few things that made Kremlin angry with Israel. First
is a bombing raid deep inside of the Syrian territory, targeting an object near
Second is the humiliating way with which the Israel air
force overflew the Syrian President's Palace on the Mediterranean coast months
after Vladimir Putin promised Bashaar Assad to supply Strelets short-range SAMs
exactly for the purpose of protecting his Palace. Third and most recent cause
is new facts of Israeli military aid for Tbilisi,
including supply of 8 Hermes 450 and 4 Sky Lark reconnaissance UAVs, and
modernization of over 40 T-72M tanks.
The Kremlin has already given go-ahead for deliveries of
MiG-29 and MiG-31 fighters to Syria,
as well as air defense systems such as the Pantsyr. It may add Iskander
tactical ballistic missiles and long-range SAMs in exchange for naval bases.
Another important client is Iran. Agreement on license
production of up to 100 Tu-204 airliners is planned for signing by the end of
this year. Talks continue on license production of Kamov helicopters.
is seeking purchase of Sukhoi jetfighters with possible extension to their
Besides, Tehran is
considering purchase of the Chinese FC-1 fighters powered by Russia's Klimov
RD-93 engines and using the same powerplant on indigenously developed fighters.
Close to sending its first indigenous satellite into orbit, Iran is interested in Russian
expertise and technologies in the rocketry and spacecraft area.
one of few countries that did not blame Moscow
for "disproportioned use of force" in Georgia;
instead, Tehran warned Washington
not to poke its nose into Caucasus. It's a
sign of warming Moscow - Tehran relations.
Cooperation in the military area is at a good level, with Iran
continuing license production of T-72 tanks, BMP-2 IFVs, Kalashnikov assault
rifles and lots of other equipment.
Besides, sensitive technology leaks might have taken place -
with Kremlin turning a blind eye, just to mention the Iranian-made
"rocket-propelled torpedo" bearing close resemblance to Russia's Shkval.
Russian media suggested that the US-led project "democratic Georgia" may target creation of a suitable base
for invasion in Iran.
A Christian country located within a jetfighter range of north-east Iran may prove
convenient. Besides, placing anti-ballistic-missile defenses in Georgia is a lot more reasonable than in Poland. Moscow may oblige its neighbor by expanding cooperation in
the fields of civil aviation, space and defense should the US seek to "punish" Russia
for "disproportionate use of force" in Georgia.
Same reason can help develop cooperation between Moscow, Caracas and Havana. The Kremlin has
already provided loans under Cuba's
sovereign guarantees for supply of Il-96 and Tu-204 jetliners to Cubana de
Similar deal is being negotiated with Venezuela.
is seeking to purchase a total of 80 Russian military aircraft and helicopters.
In return Moscow may seek bases for its navy and
strategic aviation, since it is not far from the US homeland.