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Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”
Source: Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military may be weaker than you think. All but one branch of America’s military and nuclear forces are currently operating at “marginal” strength levels. The exception is the Air Force, which is rated as “strong” in the “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” released today by The Heritage Foundation.

A first-of-its-kind report, the Index provides an in-depth analysis of global threats to vital U.S. interests and our armed forces’ ability to prevail against them. It concludes that, overall, U.S. armed forces are not capable of prevailing when fighting two regional conflicts at once, a longstanding strategic objective. It notes that, while terrorism still presents a serious threat, Russia and China pose the greatest danger to U.S. national security.

Fact Sheet — New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms

January 9, 2015 Comments off

New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms
Source: U.S. Department of State

Data in this Fact Sheet comes from the biannual exchange of data required by the Treaty. It contains data declared current as of September 1, 2014. Data will be updated each six month period after entry into force of the Treaty.

Backgrounder: The Russian Military

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: The Russian Military
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Russian military suffered years of neglect after the Soviet collapse and no longer casts the shadow of a global superpower. However, the Russian armed forces are in the midst of a historic overhaul with significant consequences for Eurasian politics and security. Russian officials say the reforms are necessary to bring a Cold War-era military into the twenty-first century, but many Western analysts fear they will enable Moscow to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy, often relying on force to coerce its weaker neighbors. Some say Russian interventions in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014—both former Soviet republics seeking closer ties to the West—demonstrate that President Vladimir Putin is prepared to use military force to reestablish Russian hegemony in its near abroad.

New Comparative Law Report — Approval of Medical Devices

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Approval of Medical Devices (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. Many of the countries reference EU law, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Israel more readily approves devices with a CE mark (indicating approval in the EU) or an indication that they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” These organizations are designated by EU Member States.

In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. For example, in the United Kingdom, manufacturers of low-risk devices may register with the government agency and simply declare that the devices meet the requirements to be approved. Devices classed as higher risk must undergo more detailed review, by a notified body.

On the question of an expedited approval process, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland permit some sort of rapid review in particular cases, often when a device is required for an individual patient and no substitute is available. Mexico has provided for more rapid approval of devices if they have already been approved in either Canada or the United States. No such procedure exists at present in Brazil, France, Israel, the Russian Federation, or the United Kingdom. The Russian Federation did have a rapid approval system in place prior to August 2014. Germany provides for temporary approval of devices in limited circumstances. South Africa is now considering draft legislation that would include expedited procedures in specified situations.

Russia Economic Report 32: Policy Uncertainty Clouds Medium-Term Prospects

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Russia Economic Report 32: Policy Uncertainty Clouds Medium-Term Prospects
Source: World Bank

Russia’s economy is stagnating. Increasing uncertainty has impacted investor and consumer decisions. There are substantial risks to Russia’s medium-term outlook. Economic recovery will need a predictable policy environment and a new model of diversified development. Prospects for further poverty reduction and shared prosperity are limited.

Russia’s Compliance with the INF Treaty, CRS Insights (September 18, 2014)

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Russia’s Compliance with the INF Treaty, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Obama Administration, in its recently released 2014 report on arms control compliance, has stated that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Specifically, the Administration claims that Russia has tested a land-based cruise missile with a range greater than 500 kilometers. The United States has raised its concerns with Russia several times over the past year, including in a meeting that occurred in Moscow on September 11, 2014. While the State Department reports that the two sides had a “useful exchange of views,” Russia’s response did not “assuage” U.S. concerns. Russia, for its part, claimed that the United States did not offer any details to back up its accusation and failed to address Russian concerns about U.S. compliance with the treaty.

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program
Source: RAND Corporation

Programming Computation on Encrypted Data (PROCEED) is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program whose primary purpose is to improve the efficiency of algorithms that allow people to carry out computations on encrypted data — without having to decrypt the data itself. RAND was asked to evaluate whether PROCEED — which expands the knowledge base of the global cryptographic community — is likely to provide more benefits to the United States than it does to its global rivals. The research team’s assessment focused on the degree to which PROCEED technologies may be adopted, under what circumstances, and for what purpose. The team then used the analytic framework generated to understand technological uptake decisions as a way of ascertaining how such factors would work in Russia and China vis-à-vis the United States (and, by extension, countries similar to the United States).

Analysis of online searches for information about data encryption, information security, and data protection in Russia and China concluded that, given government approval of PROCEED technologies, their diffusion will be more rapid in China than in Russia. Whether PROCEED technologies will be adopted in the face of the processing penalties that will be associated with using them is difficult to determine at this time. If PROCEED is adopted, it is likely to be adopted more rapidly in the United States (and similar developed countries) than it is in Russia and China, in large part because PROCEED is compatible with the U.S. political culture, and in smaller part because it better accords to the U.S. business environment.

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