MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) Moscow pushes Washington to new deals on Afghan supply routes/ Obama administration set to disarm Russia/ Post-Soviet countries set up monetary fund/ Russian spammers made $200 million in 2008
Moscow pushes Washington to new deals on Afghan supply routes
Signatories to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have agreed to set up a collective rapid-response force, which is to be based in Russia, although it may also use the airbase at Manas, to be vacated by the Americans at Kyrgyzstan's request.
Political experts believe Moscow is ready to make new deals with Washington on Afghan supply routes.
According to Russia's permanent representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, "if [Kyrgyzstan] ends its contract with the Americans, we are not ruling out that the base might be made available to the new force."
Experts tend to think that potentially the base could become the support point for the rapid-reaction force," he said.
Vladimir Yevseyev, a senior researcher with the Center for International Security, says that the Manas base is not fully appropriate as it is only good logistically. "Besides, if the Americans take their facilities along with them, the base will have to be re-equipped," he warned.
In the view of political expert Fyodor Lukyanov, the closure of the American base by Kyrgyzstan in exchange for a significant Russian aid package for Bishkek sounds like a warning to Washington: you will achieve nothing in this part of Eurasia without agreements with Russia.
Moscow seems to expect that the loss of Manas might prompt the U.S. to seek new deals with Russia on Afghan supply routes. "Closing the U.S. base in Manas was Bishkek's decision," said a Kremlin source. "And it in no way interferes with our cooperation with the U.S. on Afghanistan."
"Russia is hoping that Washington has no alternative to cooperation with Moscow," Lukyanov said. "Full-time hostilities in Afghanistan call for intensive logistical and transport support. Pakistan as a cargo transiter does not count at all - the situation there is becoming increasingly threatening. The Kremlin is now showing that if efforts are to be coordinated with Central Asian countries, the first thing to do is to reach an agreement with Russia, an agreement not only on regional matters, but also on a wide range of issues."
Obama administration set to disarm Russia
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing cutting U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by 80% to 1,000 warheads each, the media said citing unofficial sources.
Analysts said the new proposal could place Russia in a difficult situation because a thousand warheads was not enough to breach the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system and would also leave Moscow defenseless in the face of a hypothetical Chinese threat.
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, said nuclear cuts had to be linked with the missile-defense issue. "It is impossible to propose nuclear cuts and to deploy weapons capable of destroying such warheads near Russian borders. A thousand warheads is not enough to breach operational U.S. missile defenses," Rogozin told the paper.
"The number of warheads proposed by Obama is not enough to deter the United States," said Alexander Khramchikhin, an analyst with the Moscow-based Institute for Political and Military Analysis.
He said the United States could use conventional weapons to destroy the reduced Russian nuclear arsenal.
"The United States could launch high-precision conventional weapons against silo-based missiles, the mainstay of Russia's strategic nuclear forces. After that, U.S. missile defenses would destroy all surviving missiles after launch," Khramchikhin told the paper.
Nuclear cuts would also leave Russia defenseless against Dongfeng (East Wind) intermediate-range missiles, the main element of China's nuclear arsenal. Some of these missiles with a 600-km range present no threat to the United States but are capable of hitting targets in Russia.
If implemented, the Obama plan would prevent Moscow from inflicting unacceptable losses on China. Consequently, Russia would prove unable to discourage Beijing.
"The overwhelming Chinese edge in manpower, plus the Chinese Army's ability to sustain heavy losses, could tempt Beijing to solve its territorial dispute with Moscow by force," Khramchikhin told the paper.
Vedomosti, RBC Daily
Post-Soviet countries set up monetary fund
The leaders of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) have agreed to set up a $10 billion anti-crisis fund to tackle problems in the economies and finances of the member states.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said after their summit in Moscow on Wednesday that Russia and Kazakhstan would contribute $7.5 billion and $1 billion respectively to the anti-crisis fund.
Russia will contribute the bulk of the money, but this does not mean it will be immediately deducted from the budget, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said.
"This is a kind of a pledge to provide money in case of need," Denisov said, adding that the new organization is not unlike the International Monetary Fund.
The EurAsEC presidents were also expected to agree on the contributions of the other countries - Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but Lukashenko said they would not be able to coordinate the size of the individual contributions in less than a month.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said contributions should be proportionate to the countries' economies, and that countries that do not make a donation cannot expect financial assistance from the fund.
"The controlling stake in this fund will be held by Russia," Dmitry Medvedev told journalists.
Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, Russia's main allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), have recently received stabilization loans ($1 billion, $2 billion and $500 million respectively) from Russia. Belarus also hopes to borrow 100 billion rubles ($2.8 billion), while Kyrgyzstan has received from Russia $150 million of non-refundable aid and a promise of $1.7 billion in investment.
Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of Russia's Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, said: "All countries that have received Russia's financial assistance are pursuing a multivectoral policy. A typical example is Belarus, which is asking for Russian assistance while flirting with the West."
However, Russia, which previously gave the CIS member states whatever they needed without major obligations, has said this time recipients of its economic assistance will have to support its geopolitical interests.
The Eurasian Economic Community, established in 2000, comprises Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Three other former Soviet republics, Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine have observer status.
Russian spammers made $200 million in 2008
Last year, Russia for the first time ranked top among countries for electronic spam in the Runet.
Analysts from Kaspersky Lab, a Russian producer of information security solutions, have calculated that Russian spammers account for 22% of the nearly 800 million junk emails received by Russian web users, earning about $200 million a year.
According to Andrei Nikishin, director for IT security outsourcing at Kaspersky Lab, about 1 billion emails run through Runet daily, 82.1% of that figure consists of spam, which means Russians receive over 180 million pieces of unsolicited mail originating in Russia every day.
Other analysts estimate the spam market in Russia at $150-$200 million in 2008.
They say the ongoing global economic crisis is affecting spammers too. In the second half of last year, the number of small business owners who used their services decreased, giving way to con artists who advertise false mobile services requiring SMS payments using a short number.
Nikishin says Russia is one of the three leading global spam-generators. According to last year's research by Sophos, an international developer and vendor of security software and hardware, Russia ranks second after the United States, but is way ahead of China.
Analysts admit that legal anti-spam tools are still ineffective in Russia.
Yevgeny Altovsky, working group coordinator for UNESCO's anti-spamming project, said as many as three federal laws contain direct or indirect bans on electronic spam, but they are "declarative," without established procedures for executing those bans. Therefore, junk emails go on.
"There are no effective tools for fighting such crimes," said Sergei Komarov from Dr. Web, a Russian developer and distributor of anti-virus solutions. "Legal authorities do not seem to have the potential to catch the perpetrators, or maybe they have enough on their plates. Spammers aren't even scared of going to prison."
"Any smart spammer will ask the court to prove it was them who sent the spam, and the case will most likely collapse," Altovsky added.
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