Caribbean Vacation

Galrahn isn’t too impressed by the Russians’ plan to send a small naval task force led by a Kirov-class cruiser to maneuver with the Venezuelans this November:

If the ship blows up then we’ll be interested. The other three ships include a destroyer, an oiler, and a … you guessed it, fleet tug.

And no, that’s not the cruiser in question in the photo up top. That’s an earlier Pyotr Veliky

On a more serious note, Galrahn offers his guess as to the Russians’ motives:

This development should be seen for what it is, a response to the Russia’s objections to humanitarian response and naval activity in the Black Sea. While Russia will be sure to hype it, and Hugo Chavez will be part of the over hype, it is very much a good thing because it is one of those small steps towards Russia saving face. Sometimes this type of non-escalation – media escalation stuff is necessary to bring about the normalization of relations.

Sounds about right to me.

Practice, Practice

Korabel reports that the Russian and Venezuelan navies plan joint exercises in Venezuelan waters in mid-November. Google can supply the translation.

Putin: Americans Were in Combat Zone

Maybe. He says perhaps to influence the election to one candidate’s benefit. Take with a large grain of salt. Note also how he responds to the question late in this CNN interview about guaranteeing other border states against Russian attack.

UPDATE: See also this backgrounder from The Economist. Money quote:

After years of cultivating xenophobic sentiment and persuading Russians that they face an enemy, the Kremlin had prepared the population psychologically for war. That, says Boris Dubin, a sociologist, is why Russia’s propaganda fell on fertile ground. In the public mind, he claims, the cause of the war is to be found in “America’s expansionist plans and desire to establish control over Russia’s neighbours.”