On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Russia. While the Red Army eventually did win the war, that initial invasion of Russia was a horrible massacre. A total of 3,050,000 men, 7184 artillery pieces, 3,350 tanks, 2,770 aircraft, 600,000 vehicles, and 625,000 German horses swept across the Soviet countryside on three different fronts. The Russians were paralyzed by surprise as well by fear of Stalin. Crushed by his purges, Russia's military leaders feared making any decisions on their own, and their poor equipment and morale was hardly a match for the invading Germans. June 22 is a tragic day in Russian history.
Sixty-seven years later, things have changed a little. ICBMs have replaced horses. Stalin and Hitler are both resigned to being bad tastes in the mouth of history, the Cold War is over, and the Soviet Union has been gone for nearly two decades. Most importantly, Russia has improved its ability to defend itself. Still, Russia struggles to maintain good relations with the West while securing a comfortable level of security for itself.
NATO: On the one hand, Russia is again working to cooperate with NATO. Barring any major catastrophes, talks between NATO foreign ministers and Russia's Sergey Lavrov will take place on the Greek island of Corfu on Saturday. Relations between Russia and NATO, the EU, and US went south during Russia's 2008 war with Georgia. Contracts and military cooperation with Russia were frozen, and relations with the US were just beginning to improve by the time President Obama took office in January.
Russia and NATO have common interests in fighting the Taliban and keeping Afghanistan and Central Asia stable. There is also a need to cooperate against Somali pirates off the coast of Africa.
OSCE: On the other hand, Russia on Tuesday defended last year's suggestion that Europe develop a new "security architecture" to overhaul Cold War organizations (like NATO). The US and NATO did not appreciate the proposal when it was made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last year. Russia has also balked at renewing the mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor Georgia in the interest of security and human rights.
On Tuesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a conference at the OSCE,
"We're not attempting to undermine NATO or any other organization active in the security field. Quite the contrary, we are in favor of coordination and synergies between existing international structures to ensure that no single government (or) organization in the Euro-Atlantic area work against each other."Israeli Drones: Russia has been buying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel in order to study them and reproduce the designs on their own. After hearing of these plans to "borrow" their technology, Israeli officials said it would not be selling Russia its most advanced drones. Russian defense companies have not produced advanced systems on their own. "We have a responsibility to safeguard our ingenious technology," one Israeli official said. "We were aware of this possibility, even though it was not said explicitly until now."
US Missile Defense: Russia has butted heads with the United States over US plans to build a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Bush Administration planned to build a small system in Eastern Europe in order to halt missiles from Iran. Eastern Europe promised to benefit from the missile shield, which would have protected its citizens as well. NATO leaders endorsed the plan in 2008, but Russia wants the US to drop the idea. Russia simply does not want a US-placed missile defense system anywhere near its borders. While the US has been prepared to join with Russia in mutual slashing of nuclear arms, Russia has hinged its arms reduction on the US' willingness to scrap its plans for the missile defense shield.
It may be that Russia doesn't want the West to be protected from Iran. Russia's trade relations with Iran are no secret, and Russia is one country actually backing Iran's recent election results. In the not-too-far-back of their minds, though, the Russians are suspicious of the West. The Cold War has only been over two decades, and old fears persist. The Russians also learned well not to be too trusting. They have not forgotten the broken promises of Hitler, and the surprise invasion of 1941.
NATO-Russia Military Ties Set to Resume - AP
Israel Rethinks Uav Sale To Russia - Defence India
Russia Defends Idea Of New Security Plan For Europe - Reuters
US: Missile Spat With Russia Will Be Worked Out - AP
Missile Defense Czech Republic - 33 Minutes
66/40 The Magog Invasion - Koinonia House
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The Invasion of Russia June 22, 1941 - World War II Database