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Winning these 5 epic wars determined the fate of Russia

From the middle ages to the twentieth century, Russians have waged battle after battle to secure their nation

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(by Boris Egorov – RBTH) – During its long history, Russia has waged countless wars and conflicts, quite often victoriously. But if some of its victories are consigned to oblivion, the fruits of others still impact on the present.

Struggle against Mamai (1374-1380)

Mikhail Avilov, Duel on the Kulikovo field (1943)

Since the middle of the 13th century the various Russian principalities had been politically and economically dependent on the Golden Horde. In the late 14th century the strengthened Moscow Principality tried to throw off the power of the khans.

Following the assassination of Khan Berdi Beg (Berdibek) in 1359, the Golden Horde descended into the chaos of internecine wars for the throne, known as the “Great Troubles.”

The Russian principalities were forced to deal with Mamai, one of the major Mongol generals. He was not among the descendants of Genghis Khan, and thus didn’t have a right to rule the Golden Horde. Putting a puppet khan Bulak on the throne, Mamai in fact usurped power.

In 1374, Prince of Moscow Dmitry Ivanovich (later – Donskoy) refused to pay tribute to the Mongols, which was followed by a series of clashes. After defeat in the battle on the Pyana River in 1377, Russian troops crushed the Mongols at the Battle of the Vozha River the next year – the first serious Russian victory over the Golden Horde.

The Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 became the culmination of the war. Mamai’s troops suffered a stunning defeat. He could no longer hold on to power in the Golden Horde and lost it to Tokhtamysh, a descendent of Genghis Khan and the new ruler of the Mongol state.

The Battle of Kulikovo didn’t liberate the Russian principalities from the power of the Mongols. Tokhtamysh restored it by burning Moscow in 1382. Russia was finally liberated from the Mongols only 100 years later, after the “Great Stand” on the Ugra River in 1480.

Still, the importance of the victory in the Battle of Kulikovo was great. The authority and military prestige of Mongols were seriously damaged. They never restored their influence over the Russians as it had been before.

The battle determined the future face of the Russian state, since the Moscow Principality irreversibly established itself as the political center of unification of the Russian principalities.

Great Northern War (1700-1721)

Maurice Baquoy. The Battle of Gangut (1724—1727)

This war became one of the most important in Russian history, as it marked  Russia’s rebirth as an empire.

For years the Russian state had tried to seize Livonia and Estonia and secure access to the Baltic Sea. The last major attempt was made by Ivan IV, but ended in catastrophe when the Tsardom of Muscovy was defeated by two enemies: Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In light of this bitter experience, Peter the Great prepared for the next war more thoroughly. The Northern Alliance between Russia, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Denmark and Saxony planned to crush the hegemon of Eastern and Northern Europe – the Swedish Kingdom.

However, after the Swedish King Karl XII defeated all members of the Northern Alliance, Russia faced the strong Swedish army alone. The Battle of Narva in 1701 was a disaster for the Russian army and forced Peter the Great to undertake deep military reforms.

The Russian Tsar was persistent in reaching his main goal – to carve a “window to Europe”. He founded the future capital of Russia, St .Petersburg, in 1703 on land just seized from the Swedes,, and finally defeated Sweden with his modernized army in the Battle of Poltava (1709).  1714 saw the naval Battle of Gangut (1714), the first important victory of the Russian fleet in its history.

After the Treaty of Nystad was concluded in 1721, Russia acquired the vast territories of Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia. The newly proclaimed Russian Empire began to play an active role in European politics.

Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)

Ivan Aivazovsky. Battle of Chesma (1846)

The war that pitted Catherine II of Russia against the Ottoman Empire is considered as one of the most important among the numerous Russo-Turkish conflicts. It also showed the world several outstanding Russian commanders.

At the Battle of Kagul in 1770, one of the largest battles in the 18th century, the Russian army of nearly 40,000 men under the command of Pyotr Rumyantsev defeated the Ottoman army of 150,000 men.

Legendary warlord Alexandr Suvorov, having 5000 soldiers, was able to overpower the Ottoman army five times larger in one of the most decisive clashes of the war – the Battle of Kozludzha in 1774.

Glorious victories occurred not only on land, but at sea as well. During the naval Battle of Chesma in 1770, most of the Ottoman fleet was decimated.

The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) allowed the Russian Empire to gain a foothold on the Black Sea coast: it secured the Crimean cities of Kerch and Yeni-Kale, and the right to base a military fleet in the Black Sea, as well as the right of patronage over Christians in the Ottoman vassal principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.

According to the terms of peace, the Crimean Khanate was granted independence from the Ottoman Empire. In fact, it fell under the mighty influence of Russia and was finally annexed thereby in 1783. It is worth mentioning that the territory of the Khanate included not just the peninsula, but also vast territories on the coast of the Azov and Black Seas.

In general, the war allowed Russia to significantly advance southwards, as the Ottoman Empire started to decline.

French Invasion of Russia and War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814)

 Unknown author. Russian army enters Paris in 1814.

After the Russian Empire was crushed by Napoleon in the War of the Fourth coalition in 1807, it was forced to join the Continental Blockade of Great Britain, which hurt Russia’s economy.

The terms imposed were considered humiliating by the Russian leadership. And soon it ceased to abide by them. War became inevitable, and happened in 1812 with the invasion of the Grande Armée.

Perfectly aware of the military genius of Napoleon, the Russian commanders refused to give him the full-scale battle he so much desired.

A major battle took place only on the outskirts of Moscow, at Borodino, with no side having an advantage.

The occupation of the Russian capital gave nothing to the French Emperor. He was forced to leave it, failing to conclude a peace or truce with the Russian Emperor Alexander I.

The retreat of the Grande Armée was a disaster. The harsh cold, active guerrilla war, and the Russian army’s incessant pursuit totally destroyed it. Out of 680,000 men, almost 90% were killed, imprisoned, lost or deserted.

The foreign campaign of the Russian army ended with the capture of Paris in 1814 and abdication of Napoleon.

Victory over Napoleon raised Russia’s standing in the world. The Russian Empire achieved what others hadn’t been able to for well over a decade – crush the undefeated French genius.

WWII

 Victory Banner over the Reichstag. Berlin. 1945

Although the Soviet Army had begun to receive modern military equipment  before the war, there was a huge lack of capable commanders as many high rank officers had been executed during the Great Purge in the late 1930s.

The catastrophe of the early years of the war raised a question mark over the very existence of the Soviet Union.

The consolidation and nationwide acceptance of Soviet power,, large-scale guerrilla war, and a new wave of talented commanders turned defeat into victory. The price paid by the Soviet folk was stomach-churning – over 27 million dead.

Besides the eradication of Nazism, WWII greatly enhanced the geopolitical status of the USSR. Soviet-friendly regimes were established in the newly liberated Eastern Europe.

The Soviet Union became one of two global superpowers, a military and industrial giant that was able to launch the first artificial satellite into space just 12 years after the devastating war was over.

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Second group of Su-57 stealth fighters to be requested in 2020

The second Su-57 contract will feature fighters with the advanced engine design that was under development while the prototypes were made.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The contract for a second order of Russian Su-57 stealth fighters is expected to be signed in 2020, according to an unnamed source in Russia’s aircraft-making industry. TASS, the Russian News Agency, reported on this on Wednesday, 16 January:

The second contract to manufacture 13 Su-57 fighter jets for the Russian Aerospace Forces is to be signed next year, a source in Russia’s aircraft-making industry told TASS on Wednesday.

“In 2020, we plan to sign the second contract to manufacture and deliver 13 Su-57 fighter jets, some of them equipped with the second-stage engines,” he said. “The preliminary timeframe for the new contract is five years.”

The first contract envisages the delivery of two fifth-generation aircraft in 2019-2020.

“In line with the contract signed in 2018, one serial Su-57 jet with first-stage engines will be delivered to the Aerospace Forces this year, the other aircraft featuring the same type of engine – in 2020.”

The aircraft’s manufacturer, the United Aircraft Corporation, refrained from commenting on the report.

The Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed to destroy all types of air targets at long and short ranges and hit enemy ground and naval targets, overcoming its air defense capabilities.

The Su-57 took to the skies for the first time on January 29, 2010. Compared to its predecessors, the Su-57 combines the functions of an attack plane and a fighter jet while the use of composite materials and innovation technologies and the fighter’s aerodynamic configuration ensure the low level of radar and infrared signature.

The aircraft has been successfully tested in Syria.

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Kaspersky Lab snags former NSA contractor stealing hacking tools

Semi-buried article did see publication on Politico and Fox News, but Kaspersky Lab was not vindicated for its help in solving this case.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In a time known for Smear Campaigns of the Strangest Kind, we have seen Russia blamed for being there, for interfering and preventing the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Presidency, putting Donald Trump in the White House instead. One of Russia’s companies, Kaspersky Lab, has a particularly notable history of late; that is to say, this computer security company has found itself on the receiving end of quite frankly, illegal levels of slander and punishment without cause from the US government. Kaspersky Lab owner and CEO tried very hard to come to the US to discuss these matters with a Congressional committee, only to have the meeting shelved into limbo.

However, the truth made itself manifest when it became known that Kaspersky Lab actually helped the American FBI catch Harold T. Martin III, who was found to be attempting to steal some of the American government’s most sensitive hacking tools. This fact emerged on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, when sources familiar with this investigation spoke to The Politico magazine. Politico says the following in its report:

[Kaspersky Lab’s] role in exposing Martin is a remarkable twist in an increasingly bizarre case that is believed to be the largest breach of classified material in U.S. history.

It indicates that the government’s own internal monitoring systems and investigators had little to do with catching Martin, who prosecutors say took home an estimated 50 terabytes of data from the NSA and other government offices over a two-decade period, including some of the NSA’s most sophisticated and sensitive hacking tools.

The revelation also introduces an ironic turn in the negative narrative the U.S. government has woven about the Russian company in recent years.

Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, officials have accused the company of colluding with Russian intelligence to steal and expose classified NSA tools, and in 2016 the FBI engaged in an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit the company and get its software banned from U.S. government computers on national security grounds. But even while the FBI was doing this, the Russian firm was tipping off the bureau to an alleged intelligence thief in the government’s own midst.

“It’s irony piled on irony that people who worked at Kaspersky, who were already in the sights of the U.S. intelligence community, disclosed to them that they had this problem,” said Stewart Baker, general counsel for the NSA in the 1990s and a current partner at Steptoe and Johnson. It’s also discouraging, he noted, that the NSA apparently still hasn’t “figured out a good way to find unreliable employees who are mishandling some of their most sensitive stuff.”

The Politico piece as well as Fox News’ variant still seem somewhat determined to keep that negative narrative in place, with Fox assessing that the FBI had a “strange bedfellow” in the investigation, and what appears to be an absolutely enormous presumption in Politico’s piece:

The first message sent on Aug. 13, 2016, asked one of the researchers to arrange a conversation with “Yevgeny” — presumably Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky, whose given name is Yevgeny Kaspersky. The message didn’t indicate the reason for the conversation or the topic, but a second message following right afterward said, “Shelf life, three weeks,” suggesting the request, or the reason for it, would be relevant for a limited time.

However, there are many people in the world named “Yevgeny” (Evgeny, or Eugene) in Russia, and presumably many Evgenys in Kaspersky Lab itself. The notion that the CEO of the company would be involved in this appears to be an absolutely enormous leap of logic.

The maintenance of a negative narrative about Kaspersky Lab has been one of the most frustratingly effective examples of American propaganda in use since Russia overall became increasingly used as America’s newest scapegoat.

This is also not the first time that Kaspersky Lab saved the day for an American intelligence agency. In 2017 the same company’s services found 122 viruses on an NSA employee’s computer.

Kaspersky Lab itself is a highly sophisticated company based in Moscow, Russia, specializing in securing computers against malware, viruses, ransomware and all manner of invasive efforts by the bad guys out on the ‘Net, and among the providers of such services it consistently rates among the best in the industry, including in US surveys. While US retailers Best Buy, Office Depot and the US government have banned selling or running Kaspersky Lab software, European allies of the US have not even breathed the slightest bit of discontent with the AV provider. The narrative is the only thing that is actually wrong, and since Evgeny Kaspersky’s education was largely at the Academy that trained former KGB personnel, (now called FSB), the anti-Russia narrative in the US the acronym “KGB” is usually enough to alarm most low-information American news readers and watchers. 

However, logic and awareness of life in modern Russia, point to the fact that getting an education on security at the FSB Academy ought to be equivalent to the same education at the CIA. Who would know better about how to create security than those people specially trained to compromise it? However the propaganda vantage point that Kaspersky afforded the US government in its drive to get rid of President Donald Trump made the Russian company too juicy a target to ignore.

Over the last year or two, however, this narrative has slowly been falling apart, with this Politico article being a significant, though still small vindication of the company’s prowess and abilities.

That a Russian Internet Security company could succeed where American enterprises failed, and especially where it helped the Americans catch a man who was stealing very powerful hacking tools, is a significant story, indeed.

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Russia’s court jester that tells the truth: Meet Vladimir Zhirinovsky [Video]

While Mr. Zhirinovksy failed in his presidential run, this man is unafraid to speak truth to power. He has done this in Russia for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The ancient tradition of court jester is not dead in the world. In Russia it is manifest in the person of Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party of the Russian Federation. This man is Russia’s answer to the legendary late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, with his famous “I get no respect at all” shtick. However, Mr. Zhirinovsky does his act in full view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Metropolitan Tikhon Shevkunov and others who are extremely important in the government of Russia.

His “jestering” is often utilized by the government because he has a way of presenting information that other people are reluctant to talk about in such company as the Russian President, and so among Russians he has earned this reputation as a court Jester to President Putin. However, like some jesters have done in history, this affords Mr. Zhirinovsky the unique ability to speak very freely and directly about all manner of topics. Wikipedia refers to him thus:

He is fiercely nationalist and has been described as “a showman of Russian politics, blending populist and nationalist rhetoric, anti-Western invective and a brash, confrontational style”.[1] His views have sometimes been described by western media as fascist.

In this video, just released by VESTI News, the fiery politician made his first major appearance since the 2018 Presidential elections, and he spoke about his views on foreign policy, not only of Russia, but of the United States, China and the rest of the world. What he had to say is nothing less than fascinating:

Some of the more salient points:

[00:15] – Nobody knows how to go on across the whole planet. The age of empires is over.

[00:40] – The US became the sole ruler of the world after 1991, but that time is over. It is neither willing nor able to remain the sole ruler.

[01:00] – North Korea became a nuclear power, able to negotiate on even terms with the US, though it is very small

[01:20] – The Middle East is following a relatively peaceful (!) scenario, tending toward peace.

[01:40] – China has unleashed its full potential, but it doesn’t know what to do next. China knows it could be on top but it isn’t because it doesn’t know what to do with such power, and the US is visibly having problems with such a role.

[02:13] – Ukraine is the nastiest problem. Zhirinovksy predicts they will become more fascist over time, and eventually will “Balkanize” into separate countries.

[03:11] – He goes on to point out how the Russian “elite” who is essentially pro-Western, have essentially sold Russia out, but in so doing, they have lost their happiness because the West used them to punish Russia.

Mr. Zhirinovsky does not stop here. He actually discusses a common phenomenon among the Russian “elites” which is that they often take citizenship in other countries, such as England, Germany and even the United States. Their children attend fine European schools. Yet they keep their Russian citizenship as well. When the Western powers started leveling more and more sanctions against Russia, sometimes it was these elites who took the brunt of the hit. For Mr. Zhirinovsky, Russia’s response should be to strengthen, to let the West know that Russia will never be on the same side as the West, nor will it ever become part of the Western world.

No doubt the Western press, if it picks this story up, will lift this sort of rhetoric out of context, taking it as a “sure sign” that Russia is trying to take over the world. To that end they would refer to Mr. Zhirinovsky’s hopes of Russia stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian Oceans, and say that this “fascist” leader wants Russia to do something similar to what the West charges President Putin of wanting.

However, this is not exactly the gloom and doom scenario Zhirinovsky envisions. As one continues to watch the video clip there is history, viewpoint and a stunning assessment that excessive focus on capitalist notions like wages, taxes and salaries is a source of great unhappiness in Russia. Far from focusing on “progress” as merely economic development of free markets, Mr. Zhirinovsky goes a different direction, pointing out although the monarchy cannot be restored to Russia, there are elements of it that Russia might call on to get to a better place.

A deeper study of Mr. Zhirinovsky’s context reveals some interesting features that even made it to Wikipedia’s pages in English. We include a few select points that appear interesting:

Zhirinovsky has expressed admiration for the 1996 United States presidential election contender Pat Buchanan, referring positively to a comment in which Buchanan labeled the United States Congress “Israeli-occupied territory.” Zhirinovsky said that both countries were “under occupation.” and that “to survive, we could set aside places on U.S. and Russian territories to deport this small but troublesome tribe.” Buchanan strongly rejected this endorsement, saying he would provide safe haven to persecuted minorities if Zhirinovsky were ever elected Russia’s president, eliciting a harsh response by Zhirinovsky: “You soiled your pants as soon as you got my congratulations. Who are you afraid of: Zionists?”

Zhirinovsky has Israeli relatives, including his uncle and cousin, [and]… [he] has led a number of official Russian delegations to Israel, on behalf of the Russian government. Visiting Israel, he says that he is concerned particularly about the economic situation for the more than one million Russians living in Israel. He also states that “Russia will never allow any kind of violence against Israel.”

Besides expressing his concern for Turks and Caucasians displacing the Russian population from their settled territory, Zhirinovsky also advocated for all Chinese and Japanese to be deported from the Russian Far East. During his 1992 visit to the United States, Zhirinovsky called on television “for the preservation of the white race” and warned that the white Americans were in danger of turning their country over to black and Hispanic people.

In 2004, Zhirinovsky spoke at the City Court of Saint Petersburg, in reference to the assassination of Galina Starovoytova. After accusing Starovoytova of having worked for foreign intelligence, he said “I have always said openly that for democrats of pro-Western orientation there are only three roads: prison, the grave, and emigration.”

In August 2016, Zhirinovsky prayed for the Republican presidential election nominee, Donald Trump, whose antics were similar to Zhirinovsky’s but different in backgrounds, to defeat Hillary Clinton, whom he considered dangerous, in order to take his party’s ideology global. He also expressed his desire to test his DNA to determine whether he and Trump were related. In April 2017, Zhirinovsky promised to drink the champagne for Donald Trump’s impeachment, saying: “A half of Americans voted for different foreign policies. Trump breaks his promises, and if he continues breaking them, his impeachment is inevitable.”

The Last Break Southward (1995) is the magnum opus of Zhirinovsky in which he expressed his worldview. “Since the 1980s, I have elaborated a geopolitical conception—the last break southward, Russia’s reach to the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.” This is “really the solution for the salvation of the Russian nation … It solves all problems and we gain tranquility.” Russia will rule the space “from Kabul to Istanbul…” The “bells of the Orthodox Church must [ring] from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.” And Jerusalem becomes close. It is necessary that “the Christian world reunifies in Jerusalem.” The Palestinian problem can be solved by partial transfer of the Palestinian population to the former territories of Turkey and Iran. The great Russian language and Russian ruble would wield Near Eastern and Central Asian peoples into one Russian citizenship.

Along the Russia southern sphere from India to Bosporus, other spheres of influence will stretch from north to south in the forthcoming world order, Latin America would be in the American sphere, Africa in the European sphere, and Japan and China will rule Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australia. Everywhere “the direction is the same—north-south. “Geopolitically, it is logical. “Hence, the distribution along such a geopolitical formula would be very beneficent for the whole of humanity, and all over the planet would be established warm and clear political climate.”

But his talk in the video makes another stunning point: The spirit of the Monarchy must be returned, rather than thoughts only of wages, spending and taxes. “We must restore the sanctity of power”, says Zhirinovsky, and this is a radical departure from the viewpoint of market economics such as is held in the West.

There is much about the rhetoric of Mr. Zhirinovsky that would, at first and even second glance, would alarm readers schooled in the Western way of viewing the world. But this is also the function of the court jester in motion. Mr. Zhirinovsky has never earned more than about 9.5% of the vote for any of Russia’s recent Presidential elections and he earned only 5.65% in the most recent 2018 election, probably because he dug into a nasty row against the supremely unqualified but nonetheless female candidate Ksenia Sobchak in debate.

However, his function is no less important. In listening to and reading his works, such as “The Great Break Southward”, there are salient points that he has made in the past that turn out to be true. The Jester was able to speak such truth to power and remain unassailed, and yet, this ability does help get people to think.

 

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