Posts Tagged ‘Defence’
Even Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO apologized for the poor timing of the announcement. While Rogozin’s Twitter comment may have been a joke, Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement yesterday was not. Looking nervously at the camera, the President of Russia stated that he was instructing the military to ramp up, and prepare for a missile defense shield in Europe. Speaking slowly and clearly, Medvedev also threatened to place Iskanders in Kaliningrad.
This was the second time in as many days that Medvedev had come out with a big defense announcement. On Monday, at a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the President had claimed that the 2008 war in Georgia had been carried out in an attempt to prevent Georgian ascension to NATO. While the threats and posturing are nothing new, the timing did seem a bit suspicious. The elections for the State Duma are in 10 days, and the Russian President is leading the party lists for United Russia, the majority party.
For the leading party, United Russia, the numbers do not look promising. In the last few weeks there have been several leaks about how badly United Russia is doing in the polls. Levada Center, the leading polling organization in Russia, revealed the results of its most recent poll. Levada takes this poll on a monthly basis, and always asks the same question: “If the election for the Russian State Duma was held next Sunday, would you vote in them, and which party would you vote for?”
Levada’s most recent results revealed that United Russia’s numbers are falling, with just 51% of their respondents answering that they would vote for United Russia. In the same poll, the Communists would get 20% of the vote. Sergei Mironov’s party would get only 7%, and LDPR (Zhirinovsky’s party) would receive 14%.
Compare this to the other polling organizations in Russia, VTsIOM, and FOM. VTsIOM’s most recent poll only gives United Russia 40%, and FOM gives United Russia 39%. Both organizations give the Communists 13%.
To give you an idea of how bad this is, United Russia currently holds 64.3% of the seats in the State Duma. The authorities are patently worried. In early November the President’s office leaked their own internal poll numbers. These numbers were closer to VTsIOM’s numbers. The leak appeared to be deliberate. A portrayal of weakness from people who do not normally like to appear weak.
So the numbers are bad, and different regions have sought to make up those numbers using “administrative resources”. This has, so far, included pressuring the clergy to urge their congregants to vote for United Russia, publishing posters with the same background as the Election Commission’s posters, and hanging up posters in public schools.
Stories have also leaked that governors’ jobs are on the line, if they fail to produce a certain result. In Novgorod, recent poll numbers placed United Russia at 40%, but fail to take into account regions like Chechnya where Ramzan Kadyrov has promised to deliver “110% of the vote”. While most people have treated Kadyrov’s oath as a joke, in the 2007 election, Chechnya did deliver over 90% of the vote to United Russia.
Utilizing so-called “administrative resources”, and with help from Governors anxious to keep their jobs, United Russia could still potentially receive 60% of the seats in the next parliamentary session. While this is not a Constitutional majority, it would enable the ruling party, and Vladimir Putin to claim a mandate. A necessity if they intend to follow through on their “modernization” platform. And, perhaps more importantly, a necessity for Putin to shore up support for the Presidential elections scheduled in March.
And Medvedev definitely just accomplished that by signing the Federal Law On Amendments to the Federal Law On Defence.
The amendment adds to the Federal Law On Defence a clause stating that, in accordance with the established rules and principles of international law, the international agreements to which the Russian Federation is party, and the Federal Law On Defence, Russian Federation Armed Forces units can be used in operations beyond Russia’s borders for the following purposes:
– to counter armed attacks against Russian Federation Armed forces, other troops and bodies deployed beyond Russia’s borders;
– to counter or prevent armed attack against another country if this country has so requested from the Russian Federation;
– to protect Russian citizens abroad from armed attack;
– to combat piracy and guarantee the safety of shipping.
The Federal Law On Defence is also supplemented by an article that, in accordance with the Russian Federation Constitution, sets out the procedures for a decision by the Russian President to use Russia’s armed forces units in operations beyond its borders.
The first point hits Crimea, and Georgia, and possibly some of the Central Asian republics. The second point hits Byelorussia (hey, you never know when those Poles will attack, or rise up against the Byelorussians). Third hits Georgia, and Crimea again, plus Moldova, and possibly the Baltics. And the last covers Somalia, and Israel.
Like I said, they’ve got just about everybody here.
for the President’s speech to the Federal Assembly. Unfortunately, the Kremlin is not big on posting the President’s schedule. The only thing that they have posted is that Medvedev is visiting Germany on Monday. So, I assume that the speech is later next week, or possibly the week following. However, Medvedev did meet with the Federation Council Board today, and gave some remarks. It will be interesting to see if what he said today is repeated in the speech.
I have already mentioned that last week amendments to the law on defence were approved, ones that I introduced to the Parliament on your initiative. The idea is to create a legal mechanism that would allow the President of Russia to make quick decisions on the use of Russia’s Armed Forces beyond its borders. You’ll recall in which circumstances this problem arose.
I now think that from a legal point of view this matter has been resolved. Of course such decisions would only be made in absolutely extraordinary situations and obviously only if they were absolutely necessary. But as recent experience has shown, we need this sort of legal framework. All of this is predicated on the eternal principle that our citizens must be protected everywhere in the world and must feel that their country is there to defend them.
I can already see where this is going to end up… Georgia Part 2 (otherwise known as Ukraine).