Fascinating article from Stratfor. (c2009 stratfor.com)



By George Friedman

A months-long White House review of a pair of U.S. ballistic missile defense
(BMD) installations slated for Poland and the Czech Republic is nearing
completion. The review is expected to present a number of options ranging
from pushing forward with the installations as planned to canceling them
outright. The Obama administration has yet to decide what course to follow.
Rumors are running wild in Poland and the Czech Republic that the United
States has reconsidered its plan to place ballistic defense systems in their
countries. The rumors stem from a top U.S. BMD lobbying group that said this
past week that the U.S. plan was all but dead.

The ultimate U.S. decision on BMD depends upon both the upcoming summit of
the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany on the Iranian
nuclear program and Russia’s response to those talks. If Russia does not
cooperate in sanctions, but instead continues to maintain close relations
with Iran, we suspect that the BMD plan will remain intact. Either way, the
BMD issue offers a good opportunity to re-examine U.S. and Western relations
with Russia and how they have evolved.

Cold War vs. Post-Cold War
There has been a recurring theme in the discussions between Russia and the
West over the past year: the return of the Cold War. U.S. President Barack
Obama, for example, accused Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of having
one foot in the Cold War. The Russians have in turn accused the Americans of
thinking in terms of the Cold War. Eastern Europeans have expressed fears
that the Russians continue to view their relationship with Europe in terms
of the Cold War. Other Europeans have expressed concern that both Americans
and Russians might drag Europe into another Cold War.

For many in the West, the more mature and stable Western-Russian
relationship is what they call the “Post-Cold War world.” In this world, the
Russians no longer regard the West as an enemy, and view the other republics
of the former Soviet Union (FSU) as independent states free to forge
whatever relations they wish with the West. Russia should welcome or at
least be indifferent to such matters. Russia instead should be concentrating
on economic development while integrating lessons learned from the West into
its political and social thinking. The Russians should stop thinking in
politico-military terms, the terms of the Cold War. Instead, they should
think in the new paradigm in which Russia is part of the Western economic
system, albeit a backward one needing time and institution-building to
become a full partner with the West. All other thinking is a throwback to
the Cold War.

This was the thinking behind the idea of resetting U.S.-Russian relations.
Hillary Clinton’s “reset” button was meant to move U.S.-Russian relations
away from what Washington thought of as a return to the Cold War from its
preferred period, which existed between 1991 and the deterioration of
U.S.-Russian relations after Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution. The United
States was in a bimodal condition when it came to Russian relations: Either
it was the Cold War or it was post-Cold War.

The Russians took a more jaundiced view of the post-Cold War world. For
Moscow, rather than a period of reform, the post-Cold War period was one of
decay and chaos. Old institutions had collapsed, but new institutions had
not emerged. Instead, there was the chaos of privatization, essentially a
wild free-for-all during which social order collapsed. Western institutions,
including everything from banks to universities, were complicit in this
collapse. Western banks were eager to take advantage of the new pools of
privately expropriated money, while Western advisers were eager to advise
the Russians on how to become Westerners. In the meantime, workers went
unpaid, life expectancy and birth rates declined, and the basic institutions
that had provided order under communism decayed — or worse, became
complicit in the looting. The post-Cold War world was not a happy time in
Russia: It was a catastrophic period for Russian power.

Herein lies the gulf between the West and the Russians. The West divides the
world between the Cold War and the post-Cold War world. It clearly prefers
the post-Cold War world, not so much because of the social condition of
Russia, but because the post-Cold War world lacked the geopolitical
challenge posed by the Soviet Union — everything from wars of national
liberation to the threat of nuclear war was gone. From the Russian point of
view, the social chaos of the post-Cold War world was unbearable. Meanwhile,
the end of a Russian challenge to the West meant from the Russian point of
view that Moscow was helpless in the face of Western plans for reordering
the institutions and power arrangements of the region without regard to
Russian interests.

As mentioned, Westerners think in term of two eras, the Cold War and the
Post-Cold War era. This distinction is institutionalized in Western
expertise on Russia. And it divides into two classes of Russia experts.
There are those who came to maturity during the Cold War in the 1970s and
1980s, whose basic framework is to think of Russia as a global threat. Then,
there are those who came to maturity in the later 1980s and 1990s. Their
view of Russia is of a failed state that can stabilize its situation for a
time by subordinating itself to Western institutions and values, or continue
its inexorable decline.

These two generations clash constantly. Interestingly, the distinction is
not so much ideological as generational. The older group looks at Russian
behavior with a more skeptical eye, assuming that Putin, a KGB man, has in
mind the resurrection of Soviet power. The post-Cold War generation that
controlled U.S.-Russian policy during both the Clinton and Bush
administrations is more interesting. During both administrations, this
generation believed in the idea that economic liberalization and political
liberalization were inextricably bound together. It believed that Russia was
headed in the right direction if only Moscow did not try to reassert itself
geopolitically and militarily, and if Moscow did not try to control the
economy or society with excessive state power. It saw the Russian evolution
during the mid-to-late 2000s as an unfortunate and unnecessary development
moving Russia away from the path that was best for it, and it sees the Cold
War generation’s response to Russia’s behavior as counterproductive.

The Post-Post Cold War World
The U.S. and other Westerners’ understanding of Russia is trapped in a
nonproductive paradigm. For Russia, the choice isn’t between the Cold War or
the Post-Cold War world. This dichotomy denies the possibility of, if you
will, a post-post-Cold War world — or to get away from excessive posts, a
world in which Russia is a major regional power, with a stable if troubled
economy, functional society and regional interests it must protect.

Russia cannot go back to the Cold War, which consisted of three parts.
First, there was the nuclear relationship. Second, there was the Soviet
military threat to both Europe and the Far East; the ability to deploy large
military formations throughout the Eurasian landmass. And third, there were
the wars of national liberation funded and guided by the Soviets, and
designed to create powers allied with the Soviets on a global scale and to
sap U.S. power in endless counterinsurgencies.

While the nuclear balance remains, by itself it is hollow. Without other
dimensions of Russian power, the threat to engage in mutual assured
destruction has little meaning. Russia’s military could re-evolve to pose a
Eurasian threat; as we have pointed out before, in Russia, the status of the
economy does not historically correlate to Russian military power. At the
same time, it would take a generation of development to threaten the
domination of the European peninsula — and Russia today has far fewer
people and resources than the whole of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact
that it rallied to that effort. Finally, while Russia could certainly fund
insurgencies, the ideological power of Marxism is gone, and in any case
Russia is not a Marxist state. Building wars of national liberation around
pure finance is not as easy as it looks. There is no road back to the Cold
War. But neither is there a road back to the post-Cold War period.

There was a period in the mid-to-late 1990s when the West could have
destroyed the Russian Federation. Instead, the West chose a combined
strategy of ignoring Russia while irritating it with economic policies that
were unhelpful to say the least, and military policies like Kosovo designed
to drive home Russia’s impotence. There is the old saw of not teasing a
bear, but if you must, being sure to kill it. Operating on the myth of
nation-building, the West thought it could rebuild Russia in its own image.
To this day, most of the post-Cold War experts do not grasp the degree to
which Russians saw their efforts as a deliberate attempt to destroy Russia
and the degree to which Russians are committed never to return to that time.
It is hard to imagine anything as infuriating for the Russians as the reset
button the Clinton administration’s Russia experts — who now dominate
Obama’s Russia policy — presented the Russian leadership in all
seriousness. The Russians simply do not intend to return to the Post-Cold
War era Western experts recall so fondly.

The resurrection of talks on the reduction of nuclear stockpiles provides an
example of the post-Cold generation’s misjudgment in its response to Russia.
These START talks once were urgent matters. They are not urgent any longer.
The threat of nuclear war is not part of the current equation. Maintaining
that semblance of parity with the United States and placing limits on the
American arsenal are certainly valuable from the Russian perspective, but it
is no longer a fundamental issue to them. Some have suggested using these
talks as a confidence-building measure. But from the Russian point of view,
START is a peripheral issue, and Washington’s focus on it is an indication
that the United States is not prepared to take Russia’s current pressing
interests seriously.

Continued lectures on human rights and economic liberalization, which fall
on similarly deaf Russian ears, provide another example of the post-Cold War
generation’s misjudgment in its response to Russia. The period in which
human rights and economic liberalization were centerpieces of Russian state
policy is remembered — and not only by the Russian political elite — as
among the worst periods of recent Russian history. No one wants to go back
there, but the Russians hear constant Western calls to return to that chaos.
The Russians’ conviction is that post-Cold War Western officials want to
finish the job they began. The critical point that post-Cold War officials
frequently don’t grasp is that the Russians see them as at least as
dangerous to Russian interests as the Cold War generation.

The Russian view is that neither the Cold War nor the post-Cold War is the
proper paradigm. Russia is not challenging the United States for global
hegemony. But neither is Russia prepared simply to allow the West to create
an alliance of nations around Russia’s border. Russia is the dominant power
in the FSU. Its economic strategy is to focus on the development and export
of primary commodities, from natural gas to grain. In order to do this, it
wants to align primary commodity policies in the republics of the former
Soviet Union, particularly those concerning energy resources. Economic and
strategic interests combine to make the status of the former Soviet
republics a primary strategic interest. This is neither a perspective from
the Cold War or from the post-Cold War, but a logical Russian perspective on
a new age.

While Russia’s concerns with Georgia are the noisiest, it is not the key
Russian concern in its near abroad — Ukraine is. So long as the United
States is serious about including Ukraine in NATO, the United States
represents a direct threat to Russian national security. A glance at a map
shows why the Russians think this.

Russia remains interested in Central Europe as well. It is not seeking
hegemony, but a neutral buffer zone between Germany in particular and the
former Soviet Union, with former satellite states like Poland of crucial
importance to Moscow. It sees the potential Polish BMD installation and
membership of the Baltic states in NATO as direct and unnecessary challenges
to Russian national interest.

Responding to the United States
As the United States causes discomfort for the Russians, Russia will in turn
cause discomfort for the United States. The U.S. sore spot is the Middle
East, and Iran in particular. Therefore, the Russians will respond to
American pressure on them where it hurts Washington the most.

The Cold Warriors don’t understand the limits of Russian power. The
post-Cold Warriors don’t understand the degree to which they are distrusted
by Russia, and the logic behind that distrust. The post-Cold Warriors
confuse this distrust with a hangover from the Cold War rather than a direct
Russian response to the post-Cold War policies they nurtured.

This is not an argument for the West to accommodate the Russians; there are
grave risks for the West there. Russian intentions right now do not forecast
what Russian intentions might be were Moscow secure in the FSU and had it
neutralized Poland. The logic of such things is that as problems are solved,
opportunities are created. One therefore must think forward to what might
happen through Western accommodation.

At the same time, it is vital to understand that neither the Cold War model
nor the post-Cold War model is sufficient to understand Russian intentions
and responses right now. We recall the feeling when the Cold War ended that
a known and understandable world was gone. The same thing is now happening
to the post-Cold War experts: The world in which they operated has
dissolved. A very different and complex world has taken its place. Reset
buttons are symbols of a return to a past the Russians reject. START talks
are from a world long passed. The issues now revolve around Russia’s desire
for a sphere of influence, and the willingness and ability of the West to
block that ambition.

Somewhere between BMD in Poland and the threat posed by Iran, the West must
make a strategic decision about Russia, and live with the consequences.

Don’t get nervous SWMBO! “This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution
to www.stratfor.com.”

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Foreign Policy

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  • RickWilmes

    Is Russia a totalitarian state or not?

    Answer that question and the U.S. response to Russia should not be all that hard to consider.

    Considering the fact that Russian reporters continue to get arrested and killed, I would say Russia still needs to be considered and treated like a totalitarian state.

    I am reminded of Werner Keller’s book, ‘East Minus West = Zero: Russia’s Debt to the Western World, 862-1962. This book shows how Russia survived off of the skill and resources Western Civilization has to offer. The West eagerly relinguished these resources and skills. The result is the sorry history of the 20th century.

    Unless there are fundental changes in how the West deals with totalitarian states than the end results we are looking at will be the same. More wars that are self-sacrificial in nature.

  • Derrick

    Well…most of this post regarding the US position on Russia’s policies are not that relevant to the US Navy, unless Russia is aggressively expanding its global naval presence, which is highly unlikely due to budget constraints.

    As for the first part about BMD, if policy makers are unsure how to negotiate with other countries on this part, can’t the US Navy assist in this? To my understanding, the main reason for BMD is to intercept terrorist missiles fired from rogue nation-states. If finding host nations to place BMD interceptor missiles is proving a challenge, why not divert those funds to build another carrier battle group tailored to missile defense? I mean, naval pilots can be trained to intercept and shoot down ballistic missiles in the boost phase, and the squadron can contain a few more Aegis cruisers…that should save the trouble of finding a host nation that everyone can agree on to host BMD interceptors.

    Obviously, it’s cheaper to put the BMD interceptor missiles in nations close to suspect states, but at least a carrier group can be moved close to a terrorist nation when things start getting suspicious.

    Technically, the safest approach for BMD would be space-based weaponry, as they are the quickest and could possibly shoot down rogue missiles just minutes after launch. However, I think that’s still too expensive and politically impossible right now.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    Just looking at the last 60 or so years of Western-Russian relations is not the answer. Never has been. Russia is Russia, whether under the czars, the Communist party bosses or the current group of politicos. This is a country which, in my opinion, has historically mistrusted everybody beyond their borders. Their history is one long, bloody series of conflicts and suffering. Invaded from both East and West, the Russians will rely on allies insofar only as it serves Russian interests. The closer foreign powers come to Russian borders, the more nervous they get. There are no simple solutions and until we Westerners can see things from any other perspective but our own, we will never solve the problem. We cannot view nations as being friends or enemies in any case. Countries have interests, not friends. Russia wants to maintain a sphere of influence around their borders and always has. They do not trust anyone, with good historical reason.

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Mr. Friedman’s article is one of the best I have read on Russia in several years. I was U.S. Defense Attache in Moscow 2003-2005. I was principal adviser to CJCS and CNO on what started as START III and ended as the Treaty of Moscow, the largest arms control treaty in history. I also advised on the last Nuclear Posture Review. I am recently retired. The comments which follow are my own personal opinions, and do not necessarily reflect U.S government policy.

    1. Russia expected the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, but never saw the collapse of the USSR coming.

    2. The U.S. and NATO should not underestimate the importance Russia places on Georgia and particularly the Ukraine. I use the analogy of the Russian view of the Ukraine joining NATO being similar to the US view if New England joined Canada (or even Cuba).

    3. The Russian military and political leadership knows very well that a small number of ABM interceptors in Eastern Europe poses no significant military threat to Russia and in fact if networked with Russian ground based radar defenses looking south, could improve Russian security, but that does not mean all the good points in Mr. Friedman’s article are not true, especially about managing Russian popular opinion.

    4. There is an American saying that all politics are local. That goes double for Russia, especially with respect to security issues with US and NATO.

    One more observation not directly related to his article. I remember very well how the USSR and Warsaw Pact were perceived as a monolithic adversary during the Cold War. Even maps of that period, with the exception of a fine print comment about the US government not recognizing the Baltic States as part of the USSR, tended not to have national or Soviet Republic borders clearly indicated. After labor unrest and many public protests in Eastern Europe and colorful revolutions in Georgia and the Ukraine, we know clearly see that the Warsaw Pact and USSR were hardly as monolithic as we thought. Now consider China which has much more economic, religious and linguistic diversity for centuries, yet how we in the West usually perceive China. My point in saying this is if China comes undone like the USSR, many of Mr. Friedman’s comments about Russia could apply to China. Given the economic power of China which Russia does not have, the impact on international relations could be much larger.


    There is a fundamental flaw in this article, the omission of Russian wariness for their “Near Abroad.” It makes no difference if you’re talking about Cold War, Post-Cold War or Post Post-Cold War. The fact remains that fear of outside invasion is still a paramount concern for whoever rules in Moscow. Call it paranoia or whatever you will, but it’s there and surely will be for more decades ahead.

    Few recall the 13th Century invasion of the Teutonic Knights, but most people have an idea of Napoleon’s 1812 invasion. Similarly, most people are well aware of Hitler’s 1941 invasion (Barbarossa) and have a vague idea of how many deaths ensued (est. 20 million civilian and military). But how many remember the Anglo-American-French “North Russian Intervention” of 1918-20? Or the Japanese occupation of Vladivistok in those same years? Or Pilsudski’s capture of Kiev in 1920? Or the overt British military assistance to Admiral Kolchak’s White Russians?

    One need not be sympathetic to the Bolsheviks to understand that legitimate fear of foreign military adventurers has had an enduring imprint on the Moscow mindset. The West ignores this at its peril.

  • Paul M Hupf

    A thought provoking article, as is the comment by CINCLAX. Thank you.

  • P.M. Leenhouts CAPT USN (Ret)

    RADM Wachendorf, thanks for your comments. VR/Pete

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Perhaps Mr. Friedman believed the subject of the near-abroad and Russia’s well-justified paranoia of the West as being implicit. Certainly the point is a good one. One thing that we (Americans) consistently fail to recognize in Europe is that the paranoia from both East (Russia) and West (the German states) is hardly groundless. Nor is the sensitivity on the part of the “buffer states” in between toward the delicate balance that must be maintained in order not to provoke one or the other.

    When I was working with the PFP in 1998, more than a few Polish Officers expressed concern regarding the US lack of feel for this very topic. They weren’t terribly crazy about joining NATO, but understood that Pres Clinton had made them an offer too good to pass up. (The negotiations had begun under GHW Bush.)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    RADM Wachendorf,

    Many thanks for your invaluable analysis and insight. I would love to hear more!

  • RickWilmes

    Of course Russia should be paranoid of the West, Russia has been stealing Western ideas for centuries.  By their very nature thieves are paranoid and it does not matter if that is one indiviidual thief or a country being run by thieves.  Here is a snapshot of one aspect of  Russia’s systematic theft of the West. (Capitalization below is my emphasis.)
    ‘Despite the regular exchange system existing between the German and the Russian Armies, and despite the German military schools functioning at Kazan, Lipetsk and Saratov, the Soviets missed no opportunity of sending their agents to military objectives and of planting their spies in any organizations of ‘military importance’.  An engineer named Alexandrovski, employed by the Red Air Force, then still in its infancy, had a secret office in Berlin.  As his top agent he employed a young German engineer, Eduard Ludwig, an aviation expert.  When Ludwig was at the Junkers Works at Fili, near Moscow, in 1924-25, the Russians had promised him a professorship as an incentive, if and when he ‘proved himself’.  Back in Germany, Ludwig moved rapidly from one famous aircraft factory to another.  Within a few years he was equally conversant with the processes used by Junkers at Dessau and by Dornier at Friedrichshafen, and also with the research being carried out in the Institute for Aviation Research at Adlershof, Berlin.  From late 1927, in his new job at Adlershof, he had access to many secret documents.  These he had copied, for the Red Air Force.  WHEN HE WAS BROUGHT TO TRIAL IN JULY 1928, LUDWIG PRODUCED AN ARGUMENT THAT THE WORLD WAS TO HEAR SO OFTEN TWENTY YEARS LATER, DURING THE TRIALS IN CONNECTION WITH THE BETRAYAL OF ATOMIC SECRETS TO THE SOVIET UNION.  HIS ARGUMENT WAS THAT SCIENCE IS INTERNATIONAL, AND THAT THEREFORE NOTHING SHOULD BE CONCEALED FROM THE USSR WHICH WOULD EXCLUDE THEM FROM NEW SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES.
    Everything that was, or might be, of importance in the sphere of armaments interested the Kremlin and its ‘outpost’ in the Lindenstrasse in Berlin.  Even bullet-proof glass, about the production of which the USSR knew absolutely nothing, appeared on the enormous list of successful thefts committed in the name of ‘socialist industry’.  In 1930 a chemist named Theodor Pech, an agent, supplied from the Neutex Glassworks at Aachen all relevant documents, including descriptions of tests and models.  And when Germany built her first big battleship, the much-publicized ‘Armoured Cruiser A’, particulars of all the important building sections, photostat copies of constructional drawings and details of the ship’s armament were in the Russian Admiralty long before the launching.  Shortly after the project was made public by the German government, a group of engineers and technicians, headed by Willi Adamczik, had passed the plans to the Lindenstrasse.’ ( East Minus West = Zero, Chapter 13: Industrial Espionage, p. 224)



    Some good points about German-Soviet military cooperation (and spying) in the immediate post-war, although this really began around 1920 with the secret, Versailles-evading agreements engineered by Tuchachevsky and von Seeckt. After the Rapallo Treaty of 1922, this really got going full-bore.

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Thanks for the kind words on my comments. Apologize for typos, too many languages in my head contribute to the challenges of old age.

    A few comments about Russia stealing Western ideas:

    While certainly true that Russia has stolen much technology from the West, also true that Russia has demonstrated technical superiority to the West in many areas. Modern chemistry was invented by a Russian. Russia has consistently had some of the best mathematicians in the world. Russian dominance in chess competitions for many years is another example. When the US space shuttle was broken, we relied on Russian rockets to get our astronauts to space station. We will soon be in that situation again. A major US defense corporation bought a license to build Russian RD-180 solid fuel rockets to Russian specifications in the US because it was superior to any US alternative. Russian capability in oceanography has been better than the West including the US Navy. Russia fielded thrust vector nozzle military jet aircraft (albeit with terrible avionics and several spectacular crashes at air shows) many years before the West. Russian rocket propelled torpedoes exceed speed capability of any Western torpedo (note that this Russian technology has been exported to Iran and also note that the characteristics of this weapon make any terminal guidance impossible which argues strongly that the only reason to build such a weapon is to use it with a nuclear warhead).

    I am not trying to suggest Russia is ten feet tall. One example to illustrate that point is Russian cars which are not sold in the West for good reasons. Nonetheless, Russia can achieve very impressive results when it makes it a national priority. Very large oil and gas revenues will give Russia alternatives it did not have in the past. My view is the West should understand the good points Mr. Friedman makes to advocate correct Russian policy alternatives for the future. We can not afford to steer by the wake with respect to Russia policy.

  • +1 on RADM Wachendorf’s comments above. Would also underscore the Russian’s abvilities in applied physics in some rather exotic applications…


    Boss — great seeing you up on the net, might a blog presence be in the future?
    v/r, SJS


    Some have suggested immigration and demographic changes in Russia today is seen as akin to an invasion. I’d be interested in your (or anyones) thoughts on that subject.

    It rings of truth, but sounding accurate isn’t the same as being accurate.

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Comment on the population and immigration issues for Russia:

    Former Russian Defense Minister (came up thru the KGB same as Putin) currently very active in Kremlin, but no longer SecDef equivalent) stated biggest long term strategic security threat to Russia is very low Russian population (about 10-12 million Russians total) east of the Urals (area bigger than all of US including Alaska) and the immigration of Chinese into that sparsely populated region which is where the vast majority of Russia’s enormous energy reserves are located. Last time I checked, Russian government allows about 200,000 Chinese to legally immigrate into Russia each year. There are a lot more who immigrate illegally (note US has some issues there as well). One other observation is that at current UN projected population rates, the total population of Russia will by the year 2040 (about one generation from now) will be less than Vietnam. Take a look at a globe that does not distort land area as a function of latitude and compare Russia and Vietnam. Not good news for Russian economy nor security.



    Nothing I can add to RADM Wachendorf’s excellent comments. Clearly Russia’s ethnic problems will continue to grow. I’d like to know if Russia opens its borders to Muslims as easily as it does to Chinese.

  • RickWilmes

    ‘While certainly true that Russia has stolen much technology from the West, also true that Russia has demonstrated technical superiority to the West in many areas. Modern chemistry was invented by a Russian. Russia has consistently had some of the best mathematicians in the world.’

    It has been my understanding that Antoine Lavoisier, a Frenchman, was the founder of modern chemistry.

    I would also be interested in the names of some of the Russian mathematicians worthy of consideration.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Speaking of views of Russia, this from Newsweek. Century-old color photos.


    Not really pertinent to the debate, but a hint as to the complexity of the populations involved.

  • Byron

    My money is on RADM Wachendorf…he’s actually been to Russia…as opposed to those of us who haven’t….

    And I expect that he took the time to actually read the facts, instead of demanding that others provide the proof.

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    I welcome criticism. Check out Wikipedia entry for Periodic Table which was discovered by Mendeleev.

    Russia has also done some interesting technology in biology, especially biological weapons which they deny they have. Might ask the head of State in the Ukraine about what he thinks about that (suffered a nearly fatal illness that was not the swine flu while running for election). Many books written about Russian chemical and biological weapons programs. When I was Defense Attache, US taxpayers spent $576M to build a chem demil plant in Russia (Counter Threat Reduction Program funded).

    The Russian mathematicians are almost too numerous to mention, but I would like to credit head of USNA Mathematics Dept and also I believe NPGS Math Department, Dr. Saslaw as one of many.

    I am not able to comment on classified information in the forum, but I would recommend reading Tower of Secrets, written by a senior KGB officer, Victor Sheymov, who defected to the US and now runs a cyber security business. Lots of math in cryptology.

  • RickWilmes

    Thank you, RADM Wachendorf,
    I don’t think of my comments as a criticism but as participating in a fascinating discussion. Concerning Mendeleyev, I think his example provides one more concrete to support my claim that without the West contributing ideas, resources and skills, Russia would have nothing to offer to the free world.  Referring again to  Werner Keller’s book ‘East Minus West = Zero’:
    ‘Kropotkin also mentions the great discovery which was to excite all scientists ten years later:  the Periodic Law of chemical elements, a theory which was advanced simultaneously but independently by the Russian, Mendeleyev, and the German, Lothar Meyer, Kropotkin names these two scientists as the discoverers of the new Law, based on early work by the British scientist, Newlands.  Today, however, Russian censorship has removed the name of Meyer, but they acknowledge the fact that Mendeleyev owed his skill in research to his years of study under two Heidelberg professors–Kirchoff the physicist and Bunsen the chemist.  Since the Soviet ‘wave of inventors’ set out to transform all the more important European discoveries into Russian ones, Russian textbooks and the lectures given by Soviet academicians mention only the name of Mendeleyev. (p. 169)
    Concerning Lothar Meyer, this is what my Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say:
    His book ‘Die modernen Theorien der Chemie'(1864; “Modern Chemical Theory”), a lucid treatise on the fundamental principles of chemical science, contained a preliminary scheme for the arrangement of elements by atomic weight and discussed the relation between the atomic weights and the properties of the elements.  This influential work was often enlarged and went into many editions.  In about 1868 Meyer prepared an expanded table, similar in many ways to Mendeleyev’s table published in 1869.  It was not until 1870, however, that Meyer published his own table, a graph relating atomic volume and atomic number and clearly showing the periodic relationships of the elements.  He did not claim priority for his achievement, and he admitted that he had been reluctant to predict the existence of undiscovered elements as Mendeleyev had done.
    In future posts, I want to comment on how Russia aquired its knowledge of rocket fuel and also its negative population growth, but before I do that I think the Mendeleyev example brings up an important issue that Werner Keller raises:
    ‘The Russians’ poor showing in the field of major creative achievement has made the Soviet Union all the more anxious to win prestige by accelerated, concentrated effort in specific directions.  When Britain announced her intention of building an atomic power plant, Moscow immediately oredered a similar project to be started, as a rush job.  It was in operation on 27th June 1954, some months before Calder Hall.  From the point of view of propaganda, the Russians’ target had been reached. ‘The Soviet Union builds the first atomic power station in the world’, Tass announced.
    Research in the Soviet Union is carried out under conditions of urgency which usually exist in the West only in the wartime production of armaments.  There is an abnormally large outlay in money, men and materials for science and technology.  Starting in the primary schools, a very thorough specialist selection system has been organized, to exploit all available scientific and technical talent among two hundred million Soviet citizens.(p. 361)
    As a final note and something to think about as I prepare my comments on  Russia’s missile technology and negative population growth,  my edition of  ‘East Minus West = Zero ‘ was published in 1962.  Keller mentions the fact that Russia had 200 million citizens, according to the CIA fact book in 2009 Russia’s population is roughly 140 million.   In roughly, 50 years Russia has lost 30% of its population

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Thanks. Last entry for me on this subject.

    We are all products of our perspective. My opinion is there is a lot bias those who say Russia has not contributed to technology or science.

    On the subject of Russian population decline, I believe it parallels, perhaps at a faster rate, population declines elsewhere in Europe. I will make a big generalization, but the average Russian has very poor access access to health care that we take for granted in the West. The average Russian, especially males, also smokes and drinks way too much. In some hospitals in Russia’s capital city, if you want clean sheets, your family must bring them. All this said, remember Russia lost 27 million dead in WWII, of course Stalin is responsible for some of those losses. My point here is that the Russia culture has an ability to continue with very patriotic pride through adversity most other cultures I have seen could not do. Again, just my personal opinion.

  • Dubidu

    BTW as too Russian mathematician to make great contribution to science
    Kolmogorov – one of the greatest mathematicians of the XX century, the founder of the modern theory of probability, Lobachevsky – a founder of non-Euclidian geometry, Lyapunov – a founder of the modern theory of stability, Nikolay Bogolyubov – a scienist who made great contribution both to mathematics and physics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolay_Bogolyubov), Zhukovsky – a founder of the modern aerodynamics, Markov (Markov chains) etc. etc. As to Chemistry I would mention not only Mendeleev but also Butlerov (one of founders of organic chemistry) and Nikolay Semyonov (Nobel winner), one of founders of physical chemistry. In fact there too many names of Russian to make important contributions to science and technology to tell in a short post. So I’ve just confined myself to mathematics and chemistry as mentioned in the original post