Thursday 31 October 2013

The changing correlation of power

One picture is worth a thousand words

Forbes ranks Putin world’s most powerful person, downs Obama

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ranked the most powerful person in the world by Forbes. He topped the list of the 72 world figures that “matter the most,” while US President Barack Obama was rated second.

30 October, 2013

Putin’s Syria “chess match” that prevented the US strike, and his having the last word in the diplomatic row over the fugitive NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, didn’t go unnoticed with the editorial rating of the influential American business magazine, and were noted among the reasons for his top place.

This, added to Obama’s recent political failures and scandals surrounding his second term, have cost the US President the first position he achieved last year, with a “clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin on the global stage.”

The Russian President also “outstripped” the likes of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping (ranked #3), the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who “fell” to #5 from #2 over the year), and the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (#8).

Curiously, Pope Francis was ranked #4, with the reason being he is “the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, or about 1/6th of the world’s population,” as stated in the media’s details on its “methodology.”

Other seemingly unexpected entries in the Forbes’ list include European Central Bank President Mario Draghi (#9) outstripping the rank of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron (#11). 29-year-old Mark Zuckerberg (CEO Facebook) managed two ranks above the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Apparently, Putin’s first place on Forbes couldn’t appear without ready-made clich├ęs in the description and accompanying articles, with terms like “autocratic leader,” “ex-KGB strongman,” and “dictator” littered everywhere. His counterpart Obama, on the other hand, has been depicted as “the handcuffed head of the most dominant country,” but still the “leader of the free world.”

While giving Putin an optimistic forecast for his possible stay in office until 2024, Forbes was more negative towards Obama, saying that his “lame duck period” has already set in.

This is not the first time that Putin has led the “most influential” rating compiled by Western media. In 2012, Putin outdid everyone on the list of the international political think tank, Eurasia Group, published by the Foreign Policy magazine. However, the first place on the list was left ostensibly empty to symbolize the think tank’s concept of “no clear leader” in the modern world.

See also the Washington Post, Putin unseats Obama on Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful list

Also reflection a changing correlation of power

Russia plans to bring more S-300 air systems to EU border in Belarus

Moscow is set to supply Minsk with more S-300 complexes to strengthen the external border under a project of merging the countries’ air defenses. The systems are to be deployed close to the Belarus border with NATO’s Poland and Lithuania

30 October, 2013

The Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced plans after meeting with his Belarus counterpart, Yury Zhadobin, where they discussed development and enforcement of combat potential of the Joint Regional Air Defense system (JRAD).

We plan to increase the capabilities of Belarus air defenses with four S-300 missile complexes,” the Russian minister said on Tuesday.

With the latest S-400 air defense systems currently being delivered to Russian troops, S-300 can no longer be viewed as a cutting edge technology complexes, but the latest versions of S-300 are capable of bringing down practically any flying target, be it a UAV, cruise missile, fighter jet or even a ballistic missile warhead flying at speeds of up to 2.8 kilometers per second.

In December 2009, then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement with Belarus, ratifying the joint external border air defense of the union state. The agreement implies unification of air defenses and creation of JRAD, currently headed by Belarus Major General Oleg Dvigalev.

Within the framework of this agreement, Russia and Belarus “are finalizing” documents to expand a former Soviet air base in Lidy, some 120 kilometers from the Polish border, which will host a squadron of Su-27SMZ fighter jets (with the latest modifications) and a certain number of assault helicopters.

A team of Russian engineers is conducting a reconnaissance survey at the site. This comes after the Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko ordered the country’s Defense Ministry, on August 20, to start implementing the practicalities of the air defense agreement with Moscow.

Some of the upcoming S-300 complexes are reportedly going to be deployed nearby to shield the base.

The squadron in Lidy is expected to be fully deployed in 2015, whereas the first fighter jets will arrive at the base’s airfield by the end of 2013.

It is expected that in the future a united air defense will be created, consisting of Russia’s closest post-Soviet allies - Belarus, Kazakhstan, and others opting to cooperate with the three countries currently closely united economically within the entity of the Customs Union. Countries like Armenia and Tajikistan have already voiced their desire to be a part of the CU.

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