Beware the Bearwww.khouse.org
 
The situation in Eastern Europe isn’t going to improve any time soon. It has been almost two weeks since Russia invaded the former Soviet nation of Georgia and already more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. The two nations have agreed to a truce, but Russian tanks and troops have not withdrawn. Some reports indicate that Russia is moving its troops even further into Georgian territory. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently told reporters that if "Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the U.S.-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come."
 
Adding fuel to the fire, the United States and Poland have reached an agreement on the proposed missile defense shield. The agreement between the US and Poland includes a promise to come to each other’s aid in the event of an attack. This news could further antagonize Russia, which is strongly opposed to the deal. The US says it wants to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar site the Czech Republic to protect against attacks from rogue nations such as Iran. However Moscow believes the missile shield’s true purpose is to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
 
The agreement between the US and Poland comes just days after Russia announced plans to significantly update its naval forces. It plans to build five or six new aircraft carrier battle groups as well as at least four new submarines. Currently Russia has only one aircraft carrier; however its new found oil wealth has enabled the former communist state to undertake a vast modernization of its military. The new submarines will be armed with new Bulava SS-NX-30 missiles, a new intercontinental-range ballistic missile. It is the submarine based version of the Russian SS-27, which can carry up to six nuclear warheads. These two missiles will be the foundation of the new Russian military, and will give it the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world.
 
The Russian government controls most of the nation’s energy resources and seems willing to use its energy clout as a political weapon. Russia is a key player in world energy markets. It holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is also the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, and has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. Russia has reaped huge economic benefits from rising energy prices, and has increasingly used its position to intimidate its neighbors.
 
Meanwhile, Russia has been increasing its ties in the Middle East. Russia has signed arms deals with both Saudi Arabia and Libya, each worth more than 2 billion dollars. Russia also recently signed a pact with Egypt to build at least four nuclear power plants. Russia has also continued to supply Iran and Syria with sophisticated weaponry, including advanced anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles. It has done so despite concerns that such weaponry could find its way into the hands of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
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