Military Robots Coming

2
Russia’s newly established military robot design lab has finally gone into operation, Oleg Bochkarev, deputy head of Russia’s governmental Military-Industrial Commission told ITAR TASS news agency. Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin was the first to have announced plans to set up a new laboratory at the Degtyarev arms factory in Kovrov last year planning to attract private investors to experiment and create prototypes that could join the troops if passing tests.

According to Rogozin, the robots will save lives: “We have to conduct battles without any contact, so that our boys do not die, and for that it is necessary to use war robots,” he said. The idea was backed by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, who urged engineers to make robots combat ready by 2015-17, instead of initially scheduled 2020.

In 2012, Russia’s Advanced Rsearch Foundation was created to deal with robots, space defense and supersonic technology.

1This January Rogozin claimed the Foundation was working on a super sensitive Avatar-style robot which adjusts to human behavior and which humans can operate from inside. Rogozin, however, urged researchers to generate new ideas, rather than using already existing Western developments.

Robots that can kill people aren’t science fiction anymore: they’re reality. Russia has deployed armed robots, different from drones because they can select targets and decide to fire on them without any human input, to guard its missile bases. Russia wants to expand its robotic capabilities considerably, and it’s likely several other countries do as well. We’re slouching towards a future where robots play a frontline role in combat.

4The armed robots issue is becoming so real, so fast, that 87 countries sat down at a United Nations-convened conference from May 13th to the 15th to discuss banning the things. Those nations, including Russia, China, and the United States, discussed amending the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which 117 countries have accepted, to prohibit the use of armed robots during wartime. A lot of the news coverage on this issue has treated robot arms control as if it’s a joke or a novelty. It’s neither: For over a year, Human Rights Watch has been building a campaign to pressure for banning military robots, arguing that they pose an unacceptable threat to civilian populations. Are they right? Should we be banning what HRW calls “killer robots”?

3The debate about robots in warfare comes down to the question of whether they would make war crimes more or less likely. There are serious arguments on either side. In many ways, this new argument about robots is an extension of much older argument about why war crimes happen and how to prevent them. This isn’t a joke anymore: the debate over military robotics is about preventing horrific abuse of real people.

Russia to Strengthen its Military Bases Abroad

1Russia is strengthening its military bases abroad as well as helping to boost the armed forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

6“In recent years, we have worked to strengthen the Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan: we have increased the number of air defense units at the Kant airbase [in Kyrgyzstan], and the 201st base now has a divisional structure,” Shoigu said at a security conference in Moscow.

The International Security Conference began in Moscow Friday for the third time. The event is being attended by military experts and government officials from a number of countries, including China, Belarus, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Serbia.

Defense ministers or deputy ministers from the member countries of the CSTO and SCO are also planning to attend the conference. Two panel discussions are expected: “The Search for Ways to Stabilize the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa” and “Afghanistan and Regional Security.”

European Union, US and NATO representatives, critical of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, refused to participate in the event.

2Previously Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after his trip to four Latin American countries that Moscow had no plans of creating military bases in the region but might establish some sustainment centers for the Russian Navy there.

“There will be no bases – we don’t need them,” Lavrov said on Rossiya’s news show ‘Sergey Brilev’s News on Saturday,’ noting that in order for the Russian Navy to sail worldwide, it needs sustainment centers for refueling, maintenance of the vessels, and recreation of the crews.

3“We’re not after setting up such centers in every country,” the minister stressed. “We will consider the proposals and these centers will be set up wherever it would be best possible for our Navy to negotiate with the host countries,” Lavrov said.

5Back in March, there were reports that Russia may open naval bases overseas, with Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela named as possible locations. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov then elaborated that Moscow had no intentions of setting up any military bases in Latin America and is only considering sustainment centers for Russian military ships in various ports across the globe.

At the moment, Russia has military bases in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Abkhazia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Tajikistan, and South Ossetia.

Russia to Build Military Infrastructure on Arctic Ocean Islands

5
A convoy of vessels will sail to Russia-controlled islands in the Arctic Ocean to continue the efforts towards securing Russian economic interests in the Arctic, a military official said.

1“It’s not just about the building of military infrastructure; there are plans for research, hydrography and detailing of navigation conditions,” representative of the command of Russia’s Northern Fleet says.

“The task force will visit Frantz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, New Siberian Islands and Wrangel Island,” representative of the command of Russia’s Northern Fleet Capitan Andrei Korablyov told a news conference at ITAR-TASS on the occasion of Day of the Polar Worker marked in Russia on Wednesday.

The year 2013 became pivotal in the operation of Russia’s armed forces in the Arctic thanks to the cruise of Northern Fleet’s warships to the New Siberian Islands, the renovation of the Temp airfield and establishment of aviation commandant’s offices,” Korablyov said. “This work will continue, but it’s not just about the building of military infrastructure; there are plans for research, hydrography and detailing of navigation conditions.”

2“All these efforts are aimed at preserving the Northern Sea Route as Russia’s national transport system,” the naval official said.

“Russia is returning to the Arctic, but in entirely different conditions,” deputy dean of the department for international relations of St Petersburg State University Dmitry Baryshnikov said. “Instead of the uninhabited territory which seafarers saw in the 18th and 19 centuries, it became a centre of geopolitical interests. We haven’t’ been alone there for a long time.”

His colleague Natalya Markushina added that “not only Russia, but also the USA has an Arctic development doctrine” but that their doctrine “does not account for Russian interests in the region.”

8A two-volume book titled “Securing Russian National Interests in the Arctic” was shown to journalists. It packs scientific approaches to developing the region in modern conditions with an emphasis on human personality, comfortable living conditions and preservation of the cultures of 42 peoples inhabiting the region.

Meanwhile Russia’s Northern Fleet is planning new expeditions to the Arctic regions this summer, a spokesman for the fleet has said.

“This year we intend to continue laying the route through the temporarily forgotten water regions of the Arctic seas,” Andrei Korablev said at a roundtable on securing Russia’s national interests in the Arctic.

3The fleet is planning expeditions to the islands of Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands and Wrangel Island. “We will continue to study the Arctic Ocean, conduct scientific research and meteorological observations, study the navigation and hydrographic conditions, correct charts and sailing directions, survey the geodetic stations in the Arctic, as well as explore the areas of navigation for ships of non-ice class,” Korablev said.

The studies are to be carried out not only in the interests of the military, but also to ensure maritime economic activities in the Russian Arctic, as well as to preserve the Northern Sea Route as a national transport system.

4“In addition, we plan to create military infrastructure on almost all the islands and archipelagos of the Arctic Ocean in order to create a unified system of monitoring the air, surface and underwater conditions,” Korablev noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated on April 22 that Russia is also actively engaged in the Arctic region to protect its national security and economic interests.

The Russian Defense Ministry has already announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.

Russia to Build Unified Network of Naval Facilities in Arctic

1Russia will build a unified network of naval facilities on its Arctic territories to host advanced warships and submarines as part of a plan to boost protection of the country’s interests and borders in the region, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

2“We need to strengthen our military infrastructure. In particular, to create in our part of the Arctic a unified network of naval facilities for new-generation ships and submarines,” the president said at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council.

He said that Russia should boost security at its Arctic borders.

Putin ordered the military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014.

The Defense Ministry has already announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.

3The military is also planning to form a new strategic military command in the Arctic, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, by the end of 2014.

Putin reiterated that Russia is actively developing this promising region and should have all means for protection of its security and economic interests there.

4“The oil and gas production facilities, loading stations and pipelines must be well protected from terrorists and other potential threats,” Putin said.

The Russian president called on experts to defend Russia’s territorial claims to the Arctic shelf, just like they did during this year’s successful claim to 52,000-square-kilometer area in the Sea of Okhotsk off Japan.

“Our experts must act similarly, for bilateral as well as multilateral consultations with Arctic countries’ governments, and safeguard each parcel of the continental shelf in the Russian part of the Arctic, and marine areas,” Putin said.

1Moscow filed its claim to a part of the Artic continental shelf including the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges in 2011, but the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said that it needed further scientific backing.

Scientists have to prove that the underwater ridges are extensions of the Eurasian continent, thus linked to Russia’s territory. The shelf, which is believed to hold some five million tons of hydrocarbon reserves, is a lucrative resource-rich zone.

In line with these territorial ambitions, Putin believes it is necessary to create a separate public body for the implementation of the Russian policy in the Arctic.

2“We do not need a cumbersome bureaucratic body, but a flexible operationally working structure that will help better coordinate ministries and departments’ activities, regions and business,” Putin said.

The president tasked the government with ensuring that Russia’s goals in the Arctic are being solved and receive due financing.

“We are going to continue to invest serious funds in the Arctic, to solve tasks needed for social and economic investment of the Arctic regions, to strengthen security as demanded by our long-term national interests,” he said.

Russia Placed Order at Crimean Shipyard and Helps to Develop its Space Infrastructure

1The Russian Defense Ministry has placed a 5-billion-ruble ($140-million) order at a Crimean shipyard, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a live Q&A session with the public on Thursday.

2“The Ministry of Defense has placed an order at one of the shipyards for 5 billion rubles,” Putin said.

He said that the better amount of modern Russian ships and support vessels would be transferred from Novorossiisk to Sevastopol.

In March, Russia approved an initial financial aid package to support Crimean economy. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that Moscow would spend up to 243 billion rubles ($6.82 billion) in Crimea this year, to be financed from the budget reserve.

The Ukrainian economy has been hard hit by the ongoing political crisis following the unconstitutional seizure of power in February by the country’s new leadership, which includes a number of far-right ultranationalists in key positions.

3Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the ratification of the treaty providing for the reunification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia on March 21.

Crimea, a predominantly ethnic Russian region, rejected the legitimacy of the new government and moved to rejoin Russia after the government in Kiev introduced measures aimed against Russian-speakers in the country.

4Meanwhile head of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) Oleg Ostapenko told a news conference that Crimea’s space infrastructure will be used and developed.

Crimea, in his words, “has many interesting things”: an observatory, a unique station near Yevpatoria, and a number of other stations.

“We have decided what is interesting for us,” he said. “We have set up a joint group with a number of other agencies, which have their own visions and possibilities of further use (of Crimea’s space infrastructure). Now we are working on a programme on what is to be used and how to develop these facilities in future,” he added

Earlier, the director of the Main (Pulkovo) Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Stepanov has said that the reunification of Crimea with Russia can and must lead to revival of science on the peninsula, first of all astronomy.

1The scientific potential created in Crime in the Soviet times can be restored, he believes. Astronomical instruments are in good working condition, but many scientists from the observatory left for the United States, Belgium and Russia. Many went into business.

2There is a reflector a 2.5-metre telescope, one of Europe’s largest, and several smaller telescopes at the Crimean astrophysical observatory. A powerful 22-metre radio telescope is located in the village of Nauchny. After technical renovation, it can give perfect material to study Gamma radiation, Stepanov notes.

“The Crimean observatory can become the brightest diamond in the crown of Russia’s astronomy,” the scientist said, “not only for its good instruments, but for its climate favourable to take high-quality pictures,” he noted. St. Petersburg, where the Pulkovo observatory is located, has only 80-90 clear days a year, while Crimea has 200.

With a competent approach, the scientific potential in Crime can make the peninsula a leading scientific centre, he concluded.

Russia is not Willing to Send Troops to Ukraine Although Snap Drills Reveal Russian Military Training Improvement

5

The results of snap combat readiness drills conducted last month have confirmed that training in the Russian military has improved, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“The intensity and quality of the forces’ training have improved,” Putin said at a ceremony attended by senior commanders.

3Putin added the improvement was aided by defense purchases last year, which have equipped the Russian army and navy with modern weapons.

The country’s military budget stands at about 2.5 trillion rubles ($70 billion), making it the world’s third largest behind the US and China.

The Ukrainian marine base in Feodosia, Crimea, surrounded by Russian soldiersLast month, Putin ordered snap military drills in Russia’s Western and Central military districts, which border Ukraine. The exercises involved dozens of vessels from the Baltic and Northern Fleets and aircraft of the Russian Air Force.

Moscow said the drills had no relation to the political standoff between Russia and the West over Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority that joined Russia last week.

FINLAND-RUSSIA-DIPLOMACY-PUTINRussia is expected to conduct large-scale military exercises in the Eastern Military District in September.

The Defense Ministry said earlier that snap checks are to be conducted on a regular basis to ensure constant combat readiness.

6The ministry said in November that government spending on military equipment will increase 25 percent this year, to 1.7 trillion rubles ($52 billion), up from 1.35 trillion rubles last year.

But Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko is confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not have to use the Federation Council’s permission to send troops to Ukraine for protecting the civilian population.

“I am positive that will not be necessary. The Geneva meeting mapped out ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis (…) I hope that this permission (of the Federation Council to send troops to Ukraine) will not be used,” Matviyenko told a press conference in St. Petersburg on Friday.

2The Ukrainian crisis should be resolved exclusively in the dialogue between the authorities and society and the search for compromises for the sake of peace and stability in the country, she stressed.

Matviyenko reminded (listeners) that the Federation Council gave the Russian president permission to send troops to Ukraine proceeding from the situation Ukraine found itself in at that moment, Interfax reports.

“The events were unpredictable and we believed it was possible to provide the president with every instrument he could use to avert a threat to the security of the civilian population,” Matviyenko said.

1Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he hoped he would not have to use the right to send army units to Ukraine he has been given by the parliament.

“Let me remind you that the Federation Council of Russia has granted the president the right to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine. I very much hope I will not have to use this right and we will manage to resolve all pressing, not to say, critical contemporary problems of Ukraine with political and diplomatic means,” Putin said in a Q&A session.

He thinks Russia should do its utmost to help people in eastern Ukraine stand up for their rights. “We must do everything to help these people defend their rights and make an independent decision about the future. This is what we will be struggling for,” the Russian president said.

Russia Employs Former Ukrainian Military Servicemen and Personnel

1More than 16,000 former servicemen and civilian personnel of the Ukrainian armed forces have been employed in the military service and given civilian jobs in the Russian armed forces, First Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhin said at an intercom conference held at the situation center of the Defense Ministry on Tuesday.

1“The Russian citizenship was given to 9,268 former servicemen and personnel of the Ukrainian armed forces who were employed in the military service in the Russian armed forces on a contract basis,” Bakhin said.” All of them have already received Russian passports,” he added, TASS reports.

In accordance with the instructions issued by the Russian defense minister of April 3, 2014, drills have been organized for newly employed officers who are trained on programs of upgraded professional education at educational establishments of the Russian defense ministry. Besides, a total of 7,050 former civilian personnel of the Ukrainian armed forces have been employed at the units of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Bakhin said.

4The training of the former Ukrainian officers at the educational establishments of the Russian Defense Ministry will begin on May 13. All former Ukrainian officers employed in the Russian army will undergo a course of upgraded training in their military specialties at practically all the educational establishments of the Russian defense ministry, Bakhin said. The course of training has been scheduled for a whole year, he added.

Drills to upgrade the qualification of the former Ukrainian servicemen have begun at the base the Nakhimov High Naval School in Sevastopol. The main goal of the drills is to ensure adaptation of the former Ukrainian servicemen to the military service in the Russian armed forces and teach them operational, combat, technical and mobilization skills used in the Russian armed forces, Bakhin said.

2Meanwhile Russia’s Defense Ministry has suspended handover of armaments and military hardware to Ukraine from Crimea to prevent the munitions and equipment from being used against civilians in the east and south-east of the country, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.

3“I would like to recall that Russia complies with its international liabilities and under the Paris Charter, the Helsinki Act and UN and OSCE resolutions it has pledged to avoid supplying or display restraint regarding arms supplies to hot spots,” he said.

Antonov explained that the term “hot spot” was very appropriate to describe the current situation in Ukraine’s east and southeast.

So far Russia has returned to Ukraine 389 pieces of military equipment, including eight helicopters and three naval vessels, Antonov said.

President Putin Met with Heads of Defense Industry Firms

1Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the directors of the country’s leading defense industry enterprises today to discuss possible options for substituting components currently imported from Ukraine and appropriate adjustments to state defense procurement.

During a meeting with government members in Novo-Ogaryovo, outside of Moscow, on Wednesday, Putin asked Industry Minister Denis Manturov to meet him once again on Thursday along with the directors of major enterprises of the Russian defense industry.

1Additional resources may be required, should a need arise to look for substitutions for components that are imported from Ukraine today, the president said.

“I think that in this case we will have to make certain adjustments to state defense procurement and our plans for defense and industry development. I am asking for the relevant proposals,” the president said.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, for his part, said on his Twitter page on Wednesday that “possible and necessary measures of import substitution for dual- and military-purpose products” would be discussed at the meeting with the president.

Vladimir Putin argued that a potential halt to imports of defense industry products from Ukraine would benefit Russia as it would give a boost to the Russian military industry.

5“At my meeting with the government yesterday, we discussed ways of overcoming the difficulties that may arise in the case of non-delivery of individual types of Ukrainian defense industry complex products from Ukraine,” Putin said at a conference in Moscow.

2“We need to understand how serious this threat is and, if it does emerge, how quickly and at which enterprises we [will be able to] launch the manufacturing of such products, and how much it will cost us,” he said.

“I have no doubt that we will cope, it’s just a matter of how long it will take and how much it will cost,” the president said.

“Let me say immediately that, if this does happen, it will force us to revise our state defense contracts, but I’m sure that they are all tactical matters and that, most likely, it will eventually benefit Russian industry and the Russian economy. We will be investing in the development of our own industry,” he said.

1For example, Russia’s nuclear, missile industries are completely domestic.

Russia is not purchasing foreign electronics equipment for its nuclear missile shield as all the necessary electronics are being developed and manufactured within the country, the chief of Russia’s state-owned electronics holding company told journalists Wednesday.

1“Our first-priority task was to ensure the manufacture of the electronic component base for critical zones within Russia’s defense sector. And the nuclear missile shield is now one of these critical zones,” said Andrei Zverev, the CEO of Roselektronika.

The CEO added that the task had already been completed.

“One-hundred percent of electronic equipment for these purposes [nuclear and missile industries] is being manufactured in Russia,” he stressed.

Zverev specified that the bulk of the world’s electronic component industry is in Southeast Asia, with about 70 percent of global electronics production coming from Taiwan alone.

New Ratnik Military Equipment to Transmit Information to Military Medics

4In Russia, the Warrior (Ratnik) military equipment is in the final stages of state testing. The next-generation equipment is outfitted with a system to register the physiological state of soldiers, with special sensors transmitting information to military medics.

1According to Izvestia, the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy named for Kirov (VMA) over the next two years will undergo an experimental modernization that includes a system to monitor soldiers’ vital functions and “to determine the physiological parameters of the wounded and assessing the severity of their injuries.”

The creators of the Warrior equipment (the Central Research Institute of Precision Engineering, part of the state corporation Rostec) confirmed to Izvestia that a health monitoring system was already being developed. The monitoring system is expected to be included in the next version of the Warrior equipment.

1The upgraded Warrior equipment will include body sensors that every minute will record parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood-oxygen saturation indicators, and microvascular blood filling. The system will store and analyze these figures, and any deviation from the norm will trigger an alarm in the medical service. This technology draws on the already-developed Sagittarius (Strelets) system of intelligence, control, and communication. All information is automatically saved on a flash drive that stores medical history.

3Soldiers in the medical unit will have access to all indicators on the condition of the wounded. Based on the severity of the injuries, the state of a wounded soldier will be assessed on a scale of 0 to 5. The medical company will use the data to prioritize the evacuation of the wounded and to identify the best possible ways to reach them based on their GPS coordinates.

The Ratnik warrior military equipment includes body armor, GLONASS-GPS navigation, the Sagittarius (Strelets) control system, a communicator, and an automatic weapon with night and thermal vision. The helmet is equipped to withstand a shot from a pistol at a distance of 10 m and has a thermal camera and video module for sniping. The Warrior equipment also includes food, water filters, medical supplies, a tent, and a sleeping bag. In total, the equipment weighs up to 20 kg.

2The Ratnik warrior equipment was first introduced in 2011 and is expected to be formally adopted in the summer of 2014. This year’s state defense order includes the supply of tens of thousands of sets of the combat equipment for ground, airborne, and naval troops.

The Warrior equipment is produced at the Central Research Institute of Precision Engineering (TSNII TochMash), which was founded in 1944 and is now part of Rostec. The enterprise focuses on the development and manufacture of small arms and ammunition, military equipment, artillery systems, optoelectronic devices, sporting and hunting ammunition, sealed containers for transportation and storage, and firearm simulators.

Rogozin Called Defense Sector to Rely On Itself

3Russia should review the work of its military-industrial complex to scale back dependence on foreign technologies, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Friday during a meeting on defense in the Siberian city Novosibirsk.

2“Currently we are seeking practical measures but I think it would be better to first count on our own technologies and produce what is really necessary and beneficial for our defense industry,” said Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry.

He pointed out that in the wake of recent events Russia should rely only on its own resources and gradually revise previous policies of sourcing foreign systems, RIA Novosti reports.

“The situation is getting more and more complicated over the tensions in Ukraine and Crimea. Countries that have long enjoyed cooperation with Russia are now threatening us with sanctions,” Dmitry Rogozin added.

4Russia has systems that are capable of countering Western missile defense systems, Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Our new missile systems have higher speeds enabling them to pass through dangerous sites faster. Secondly, these systems have the most advanced means of countering missile defense,” he added.

“I can guarantee you that we have no more rusty missiles. If they still exist somewhere, it’s mostly likely in America,” the deputy prime minister said.

5US counter-missiles, nominally aimed against medium-range missiles, can also destroy heavy missiles both at takeoff and on approach to target, he said.

1“Essentially, the US is deploying a global system,” Rogozin said. Overall, the US missile shield is a fast, high-precision weapon which can be used not only against missiles, but also other targets, including the enemy’s military and political administration assets, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister at the meeting on Friday also said that the extra land of defense plants can become a platform for the construction of houses for their employees.

“We have very many plants with large areas of land in the city. As far as is necessary to have such a large territory in an environment where new equipment is supplied – it is compact , and technology allow you to borrow a smaller area . Let’s find you a mechanism to release these areas for housing development in the interests of the employees,” said Rogozin. According to him, one of the mechanisms to attract qualified personnel in the defense industry is providing them accommodation. On also noted that housing cooperatives are created in the Siberian Federal District – in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tomsk regions. Cost per square meter there will be 30 thousand rubles.