Press Digest: Russian air force to strive for greater airstrike accuracy

Pilot by a Russian MI-8AMShT cargo and attack helicopter at the Hmeimim air base in Syria.

Pilot by a Russian MI-8AMShT cargo and attack helicopter at the Hmeimim air base in Syria.

Dmitriy Vinogradov/RIA Novosti
RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on the efforts of Russia’s air force to minimize casualties in Syria, the dispatch of CIA agents to Finland to prepare it for NATO membership, and Russian plans to boost income from arms exports to compensate for the fall in oil and gas revenue.

Russian airstrikes to be more discriminate

Russian pilots in Syria will not spare precision-guided munitions in their attempts to minimize the risk of hitting accidental targets and civilians, reports news website Gazeta.Ru, citing experts.

Recently, Human Rights Watch said that 17 people had been killed in the province of Homs as a result of Russian airstrikes. The Kremlin dismissed the report as a "canard."

Russia uses several types of munitions in Syria. These are FAB-500 general-purpose bombs, KAB-500 precision-guided bombs and Kh-29 guided air-to-surface missiles.

Col. Mikhail Timoshenko said that the need for Russian aviation in Syria would only increase.

"The targets will be increasingly different and complex. Caravans of ammunition that militants receive will be divided into smaller caches. They will hide them in various secluded places. And it may well be that a target will be more expensive than a missile or bomb, which will destroy it," he said.

Vasily Kashin, an expert with the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said that the targeting system of even non-guided FAB-500 bombs allows the risk of hitting a wrong target to be minimized.

"You should keep in mind that the total number of our strike aircraft in Syria is low – about 30 machines. Our industry must be capable of providing such a number of equipment with bombs and missiles without interruption," said Kashin.

CIA to send 100 agents to Finland to lay groundwork for NATO membership

The CIA is to send 100 trainers to prepare Finland for NATO membership, the website Svobodnaya Pressa reports, citing Finland's government spokesman Markku Mantila. The deployment is scheduled for early 2016.

On its initiative, the so-called "Agency to Counter Russian Propaganda," in which an inter-ministerial committee was set up to fight against Russian journalists, went into operation in spring.

Now agreements have been made with Harvard and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation, which is willing to organize special courses for Finnish officials, politicians and journalists.

However, Finnish political scientist and human rights activist Johan Bäckman, well-known for his pro-Russian stance, told the newspaper that "the pro-American media in Finland, specifically the newspapers of the media concern Sanoma and public broadcaster Yleisradio, have long been spreading aggressive Russophobic and pro-American propaganda."

"And although it is now up to 80 per cent of Finns who oppose Finland's membership in NATO, things can change. The skillful propaganda does its dirty work, little by little."

A referendum on Finland's membership of NATO is scheduled for 2017.

Russia to export weapons instead of oil

After losing almost half of its income from oil exports, the Russian authorities are set on preserving the income from arms exports, reports the centrist daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta. A Serbian government delegation arrived in Moscow on Oct. 26 to discuss military contracts.

"Despite the global economic environment, military and technical cooperation with foreign countries continues to evolve. This is an area where the Russian Federation holds quite a significant position," said presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov the same day.

According to data from SIPRI, Russian military exports grew by 37 percent over the period from 2005-2009 to 2010-2014. Throughout this period, the main buyers were India, China and Algeria.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said on Oct. 25 that the supply of weapons would be one of the topics of the talks in Moscow.

"When we make the Nora howitzer, we need the Kamaz chassis, because they can carry more than 35 tons, and this is one of the reasons for the conversation with the Russians. The second is the 242 cannon, which we put on the top of the Lazar armored vehicle," he said.

Serbia is also interested in the purchase of military helicopters.

However, Serbia is planning to join the EU. To do this, as explained by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, it needs to work toward "further harmonization" of its foreign policy with the EU. Obviously, writes the newspaper, this "harmonization" implies that Serbia should join the sanctions against Russia and terminate cooperation with Moscow on several fronts.

Read more: Russia’s all-inclusive diplomacy over Syria>>>

 

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