MOSCOW — On Dec. 14, President Vladimir Putin flew by helicopter to personally inspect Russia’s first Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) unit equipped with the new mobile Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Three mobile Topol-Ms entered into operational deployment with the SMF division based in the town of Teikovo, about 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, on Dec. 10. Russia’s political and military leaders have long awaited the coming of the road-mobile Topol-M. The Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant manufactures both silo-based and road-mobile versions of the missile. Russia began deploying silo-based versions of the Topol-Ms in 1997 and now has about 45 of […]

On Dec. 22, the Russian government succeeded in its long-standing campaign to wrest control of the country’s largest single foreign investment project — the $22 billion natural gas development on the Russian Pacific island of Sakhalin. The project includes the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and related export facilities built in Russia. According to the deal, Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corp. will each surrender half of their shares in the Sakhalin Energy consortium. In their place, OAO Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled natural gas monopoly, has taken a majority (50 percent plus one share) stake in […]

MOSCOW — The Russian government has resumed its attacks on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), criticizing it for focusing too much on democracy and human rights to the neglect of security and economic issues. The United States, meanwhile, is resisting functional changes to the organization while calling for increased attention to the area of the former Soviet Union. The OSCE is perhaps Europe’s most comprehensive security institution in terms of both membership and areas of responsibility. It has 55 member states — including Canada, the United States, Russia and most European and Central Asian countries — […]

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Angarsk, a city of about 270,000 in southeastern Siberia, is the home of the Angarsk Electrolyzing and Chemical Combine, a plant created to enrich uranium for the Soviet nuclear program. Throughout its history, the plant has been a restricted area — closed to all foreign visitors. On Nov. 28, 2006, however, the state-funded Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian government has decided to remove the Angarsk plant from its list of restricted areas. Soon, according to the report, Angarsk will become the site of the world’s first “international uranium enrichment center” (IUEC). Enriched uranium fuel is required by […]

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MOSCOW — Under the leadership of the Justice and Development Party, Turkey has been drifting eastward in recent years — but not toward the Islamic world. Instead, disputes with European countries over Cyprus and other barriers to Turkey’s entry into the European Union, as well as continuing differences between Ankara and Washington over U.S. policy in Iraq, have helped launch a de facto Ankara-Moscow axis in Eurasia. The last decade has seen a weakening of the factors that have traditionally tied Turkey to the West. Turkish leaders no longer believe they need NATO’s support in an unlikely military confrontation with […]

MOSCOW — An estimated 20 percent of the Russian population now has access to the Internet. Whereas the Putin administration exerts tight control over the major domestic broadcast and print media, it does not currently restrict the content of Internet sites on a wide scale. Web sites such as Gazeta.ru and Lenta.ru provide many of the articles and commentary that would normally otherwise appear in an opposition press. Several wealthy Russians living in political exile, including Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, own Russian-language websites that publicize their anti-Putin views to Russian audiences. In August 2006, Russian right-wing extremists used the […]