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Russia Is Doomed

Discussion in 'Europe & Russia' started by Averageamerican, Mar 29, 2016.

  1. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Russia Is Doomed
    Don’t be fooled by Putin’s façade; the pillars of Russian power are steadily declining.



    Everywhere one looks today, signs of a resurgent Russia are omnipresent. Although Vladimir Putin has undoubtedly worked hard to craft this image, it is a mirage. Russia is doomed over the long-term, and its short-term maneuvers aren’t enough to compensate for this fact.

    Traditionally, Russian power has rested on four pillars: population, energy, weaponry and geography. Three of these are diminishing.

    The backbone of modern Russian power has been its massive population. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in WWII. Russia no doubt played a leading role in orchestrating Hitler’s demise, starting with its legendary stands in Leningrad and Stalingrad. However, Stalin sapped the military might of Nazi Germany less because of the strategic or tactical genius he possessed, and almost entirely through his willingness to expend the lives of his citizenry.

    According to some estimates, the Soviet Union lost somewhere between 22 and 28 million people during WWII. To put this in perspective, the United States and Great Britain each lost less than half a million people and even Germany only lost between 7 and 9 million lives during the war. Nonetheless, for nearly half a century after the war the Soviet Union could credibly threaten the much richer West solely because of the sheer number of men it could put under arms.

    Yet like most of Europe, Russia has recently seen its population dwindle even as countries like China, India and much of the third world have seen sharp rises in their own populations. As AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt observed in World Affairs: “in the last sixteen years of the Communist era, births exceeded deaths in Russia by 11.4 million; in the first sixteen years of the post-Soviet era, deaths exceeded births by 12.4 million.” Unless Russia can reverse this depopulation for a sustained period of time, it will likely become increasingly irrelevant in international politics.

    Another source of modern Russian power has been its massive energy reserves. Indeed, high oil prices during the 1970s allowed the Soviet Union to flex its muscles abroad. However, as energy prices stabilized during the 1980s the artifice upon which the Soviet system began to crumble. Far from continuing to expand, the end of the decade saw the Soviet empire disintegrate, with Moscow powerless to stop it.

    The so-called resurgence Russia has enjoyed since Putin first assumed power has also been built on high energy prices. And like the Soviet leaders before him, Putin has squandered the temporary respite provided by high energy prices instead of using it to reinvest in the country and its people. As the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development noted gloomily in December 2012, “Not only are Russian exports highly concentrated in natural resources, this concentration has increased over time: the shares of oil, gas and other minerals in Russia’s exports are higher today than they were 15 years ago.”

    It went on to reflect: “In 2012 Russia remains highly dependent on its natural resources. Oil and gas now account for nearly 70 percent of total goods exports…. Oil and gas revenues also contribute around half of the federal budget. The non-oil fiscal deficit has averaged more than 11 per cent of GDP since 2009, while the oil price consistent with a balanced budget is now in the region of US$115 per barrel and rising.” Oil is now selling for $29 a barrel

    The problem with the Russian Federation’s economic model, much like that of the Soviet Union’s before it, is that it is only sustainable so long as energy prices remain artificially high. But, of course, energy prices are declining as a result of greater energy efficiency in the West, slowing growth in the East, and greater supply as a result of the energy revolutions being enjoyed in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere around the world. And as goes the price of oil so goes the Russian state.

    Also like the Soviet Union, Putin’s Russia has managed to maintain a modicum of global influence through the sale of its military weaponry. Although Russian military technology is greatly inferior to the West and the United States, it is sufficient to meet the national security needs of most states around the world. More importantly, Moscow continues to exhibit a willingness to provide it to states that the West refuses to deal with on moral or geostrategic grounds. In these states at least, Russia has been able to maintain a degree of influence.

    This source of influence will also diminish in the years ahead. In some places, this will be because of declining defense budgets. In most cases, however, it will merely be because of greater competition from the likes of China and South Korea, the former at least also willing to overlook the moral transgressions of potential buyers.

    Thus, over the long-term Russian power will have to come nearly exclusively from its prized geography. To be fair, the value of this real estate is increasing thanks to the increased importance of Asia and the warming of the Arctic. Still, this alone is hardly sufficient to sustain Russia as the major power.
     
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  2. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    The decline of the Russian economy is part of major shifts in global economic power after the Cold War. In 1991 the U.S. and EU (European Union) had over half the world GDP. The Soviet Union had about ten percent and China two percent. The Soviet Union and its economy was falling apart (hence the dissolution of the Soviet Union) and had been for decades. By the end of the 1990s Russia (now with half the population of the Soviet Union) had three percent of world GDP, China seven percent, the EU 24 percent and the U.S. 21 percent. China began growing at ten percent a year in the 1980s and kept going. China was still ruled by communists but had made the bold decision to allow and sustain a free market economy. The compounded growth really adds up if you can sustain it over several decades, which China did. By 2015 China was 17 percent of world GDP, Russia three percent, the EU 17 percent and the U.S. 16 percent. Projections for 2020, even taking into account showed down Chinese growth, have China with 19 percent of world GDP, Russia three percent, the EU 15 percent and the U.S. 15 percent. One important factor in the Chinese GDP growth was the fact that China has more people than the EU, the U.S. and Russia combined. On the down side China also has the worse pollution, and corruption than the West, or even Russia. China also has growing labor problems and a booming middle class that is, as it has always done elsewhere, demanding more of a say in making government policy. This is mainly self-preservation because the communist rulers of China have enriched themselves via corrupt (even by Chinese standards) behavior that now threatens to trigger an economic collapse. Failure to cope with these problems threatens to hobble growing Chinese economic and military power as well as triggering a global economic recession. All this terrifies Russia because Chinese economic power is a growing presence in and around Russia and China has ancient territorial claims on the Russian Far East that many Russians fear China will eventually act on
     
  3. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    After the Soviet (Russian) empire dissolved in 1991 the rest of the decade was spent trying to reorganize and rebuild. That did not work out well at all. Russia entered the 21st century with a new elected government dominated by former secret police (KGB) officers who promised to restore economic and civil order. They did so but in the process turned Russia back into a police state with less political and economic freedom. Many younger Russians resisted this and the government responded by appealing to nationalism. This was done by reviving the traditional threatening attitude towards neighbors. Just as corrupt communist bureaucrats replaced corrupt imperial officials after World War I (1914-1918), post-Cold War (1947-1991) Russia is now ruled by corrupt businessmen led by self-serving government officials dominated by members of the communist secret police (which was founded by veterans of the tsarist secret police). The current semi-free economy is more productive than the centrally controlled communist one but that just provides more money to steal. Like the tsarist and communist government before it the new Russian rulers tolerate corruption as a necessary tool to control the nation. The new tyrants, like past ones, use propaganda and control of the mass media to justify the mess and convincingly depict Russia as under siege by outsiders. Opinion polls show wide popular support for this paranoid fantasy and most Russians are willing to tolerate a police state to get some economic and personal security. That atmosphere, plus the anxiety generated by the Ukraine aggression has scared away a lot of foreign investors and many Russian ones as well. Russia can downplay this in the state controlled media but without all that foreign and Russian capital the economy cannot grow. The corruption discourages the kind of innovators and entrepreneurs that create and sustain the sort of prosperity and freedom Russians have always envied. This is causing real problems for the government (as it had for communist and tsarist rulers) because no matter what a tyrant does they cannot motivate and retain enough of the talent needed to be competitive in world markets. Some government officials admit this, for a while at least until ordered to shut up. Thus in the last decade or so military leaders have pointed out that Russian defense firms are still not competitive with the West and probably never will be without some fundamental changes. The head of the Russian program recently came out and said the same thing, in part to explain the continued failures of Russian efforts in developing new satellite launchers and long-range rockets in general. Shortly thereafter that official insisted his remarks had been misunderstood.


    All Sort of Quiet On The Southern Front

    Fighting continues in eastern Ukraine (Donbas) but at a low level and usually instigated by pro-Russian rebels. Russian efforts to grab a portion of eastern Ukraine appear to be on hold and they are. That’s because the Russian government realizes that their bold effort to grab Donbas has failed but can’t admit that and have not come up with a politically acceptable way to admit defeat and get out. Russian officials admit (among themselves and occasionally to outsiders) that the Ukrainian operation suffered a fatal blow in July 2014 when undisciplined Russian supported rebels in Donbas used a Russian anti-aircraft missile system to shoot down a Malaysian airliner overhead (which they through was a Ukrainian Air Force transport). No amount of Russian media spin or propaganda could undo the international outrage this incident created. The world sort of tolerated the earlier (2008) annexation of parts of Georgia and the 2014 annexation of Crimea but the death of 298 airline passengers over Russian controlled Donbas was not acceptable. In late 2015 Russia tried to redeem itself by sending forces to Syria (to fight the rebels, not support them like the rest of the world was doing). That did not work, on any level and now Donbas is a problem that won’t go away and can’t be solved without damaging the reputation of the new Russian dictatorship.

    In Ukraine most of the violence is taking place outside the rebel held city of Donetsk and the government held port city of Mariupol. Ukraine continues to gather evidence that many of the “rebels” are actually Russia troops. The original pro-Russian Ukrainians (most of them ethnic Russians) have become discouraged because the fighting has dragged on. The Ukrainians refuse to give in. This war is two years old and has left nearly 10,000 dead at over 20,000 wounded. Most of the casualties have been civilians. There is a ceasefire in place but no progress on working out an end to this Russian misadventure. So far only six other nations (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea) have agreed with Russians claims that taking Crimea was legal and not in violation of international law or a treaty Russia signed in the 1990s guaranteeing Ukrainian borders
     
  4. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    In the last decade or so military leaders have pointed out that Russian defense firms are still not competitive with the West and probably never will be without some fundamental changes. The head of the Russian program recently came out and said the same thing, in part to explain the continued failures of Russian efforts in developing new satellite launchers and long-range rockets in general. Shortly thereafter that official insisted his remarks had been misunderstood.
     
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  5. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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  6. Tejpal

    Tejpal Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    ^^^ What is that?
     
  7. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    No idea but I want one,, Would look good on my RV

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  8. randomradio

    randomradio Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Probably some Hollywood prop.
     
  9. Tejpal

    Tejpal Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Good shout.
     
  10. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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  11. Inactive

    Inactive Guest

    @Picdelamirand-oil nice find ... ofcourse, Ukraine will be offended if you are trying to depict it in Russian context:biggthumpup:
     
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  12. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I didn't want to open a new thread for that.
     

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