Here Comes The Bear Again

Here Comes The Bear Again
Vol: 130 Issue: 28 Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ever since the reign of Peter the Great, it has been an objective of Russian foreign policy to find a way to overcome that nation’s most difficult geographic challenge.  For all her size and power and influence, the Russians are hamstrung in the projection of that power and influence by virtue of their geography.

Consider the great powers of history and their relationship to the sea.  Spain was perfectly positioned for the projection of sea-power.  The British Empire had free access to all the oceans and seas of the world.

France faced the Atlantic and held fourteen hundred miles of the shores of the Mediterranean.  Germany had the North Sea Canal.

Japan was almost as favorably situated as the United Kingdom.  The United States has free access to two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Russia is landlocked from the West and ice-locked everywhere else for most of the year.  To the west is Europe.  In the South, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan block Russia’s access to the Arabian Sea.  China and Korea stand between Russia and the South China Sea. 

Vladivostock, which became a Russian port in 1860, is ice-locked for about four months.  The rest of the time, its effectiveness as a warm water port is neutralized by South Korean and Japanese domination of the Strait of Tshushima.

Russia is not completely land-locked today — it has warm water ports in Murmansk and Novorossiysk, but Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is constrained by the Dardenelles and Russia’s strained relations with the Ukraine.

I say all that because I want to convey just how important maintaining the security of its warm-water port is to Russian national security.  The Ukraine, for example, would not dare to close off Russian access to the Black Sea.

Not even after an investigation into the poisoning of Ukrainian president Viktor Lukashenko led straight to the doors of the Kremlin.

The Ukrainians know that if they were to try to cut off Moscow’s access to the Black Sea, the Russians would simply invade and take it, as they did when they invaded Afghanistan in 1980.

Russia has two other warm water ports that are of almost equal value to those on the Black Sea. 

For the past four years, Russian engineers have been expanding the facilities there, which now include a ship repair basin, a trio of floating docks, supply dumps and barracks, all of which could replenish, re-arm and repair up to a dozen warships.

Dredging will provide a base for Russia’s Kirov-class guided missile cruisers designed to destroy US carrier battle groups.  Since 2009 Russian workers have been constructing a dock capable of handling heavy surface units and could presumably service submarines.

Those Russian ports, with all their recent improvements, are located in Tartus and Latkia, on the coast of Syria.


The Russians recognize that their Syrian port facilities are in jeopardy, which is why a squadron of Russian navy ships, including several assault ships carrying marines, is heading to Tartus in a show of support for the Assad government.

It is also a principle reason why the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to the government massacres of whole civilian towns in an effort to restore order. 

Should Assad’s government fall, it is probable that the government that replaces it will take a dim view of Moscow’s support for Assad and give Moscow the boot.   Which explains why the Russians have continued to supply Assad with weapons and protection from the UN Security Council.

But it is looking increasingly as if Assad’s government will collapse despite Russian efforts to maintain it, and while Moscow intends to hang on in Syria for as long as possible, it is looking at other options.

This week, Moscow announced it was in talks with three other countries about setting up naval supply and port facilities for the Russian Navy in the event that Assad’s government falls.  The Seychelles, Vietnam and Cuba.

“Chirkov’s statement marked a sharp about-face for Russia, which closed a Soviet-era naval base at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and a spy base in Lourdes in Cuba in the early 2000s during President Vladimir Putin’s first term.

Along with financial reasons, that move was part of Putin’s bid to improve ties with the US. But relations with Washington deteriorated and Putin, who was re-elected to a third term in March, has grown increasingly eager to challenge Washington. During his election campaign, he accused the US of encouraging protest against his 12-year rule in order to weaken Russia and pledged to strengthen the nation’s military might.”

Russia continues to be the patron saint of the Islamic republic of Iran.  It is heavily involved with the Islamic government in Sudan.  The entire Arab Middle East is armed with Russian weapons, populated by Russian support technicians, and advised by Russian advisors.

What I want to underscore in today’s brief isn’t so much about where we are now as it is where we are trending.

The idea of a ‘new Russia’ was popular in the 1990’s.  There were visions of a ‘new, vibrant Russian partner’ — including President Bush’s famously naive declaration after their first meeting that he could ‘see into the soul’ of ex KGB colonel Vladmir Putin.

That was then.  And it demonstrates the danger in interpreting prophecy according to current events, rather than the other way around.

The Bible envisions no such peaceful East-West partnership.  The Russian bear hasn’t changed, it was only hibernating.

Russia’s role in the last days is that of a hostile invader who ultimately marches at the head of a Persian-Islamist alliance against Israel, then a ‘land of unwalled villages’ living under the protection of a covenant guaranteed by the leader of a revived Roman Empire.

That’s what the Bible predicts.  That’s the direction events are trending. 

Just think of it!  All these prophecies, by all these different prophets, across all these centuries, coming together and coalescing into a single narrative describing the events of a single generation, somewhere in time.  What’s next?

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither. . . .” (Revelation 4:1)

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About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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