Author Topic: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]  (Read 280440 times)

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2013, 00:48:15 »
How this ends will have long term implications for Russia's ability to remain relevant. Attempting to stand between the EU and Russia is not tenable. If the Ukraine moves to Russia, it strenthens Russian power for a generation, while if the protestors are successful and move to the EU, it will weaken Russia far more than most people probably realize (looking upthread at Russian economic statistics and the questions about Russian demographics don't put them in a good place):

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2013/1203/Is-Ukraine-s-unrest-a-new-Orange-Revolution-in-the-making-video

Quote
Is Ukraine's unrest a new Orange Revolution in the making? (+video)
Despite parallels to 2004's peaceful democratic revolution, the current upheaval in Kiev is unlikely to settle the EU-Russia tug-of-war over Ukraine.

By Monika Rębała, Contributor, Michał Kacewicz, Contributor / December 3, 2013

WARSAW; AND KIEV, UKRAINE
As protesters dig in to Kiev's Independence Square, establishing barricades of cars, bringing in television monitors, and erecting a small tent city in the heart of Ukraine's pro-European Union demonstrations, there is much talk of forcing the government to change – indeed, of revolution.

With Ukraine's president out of the country and his opponents still boiling with anger, the country's political tensions appeared mired in a standoff as large protest rallies showed no sign of letting up. The opposition lost its attempt to topple the government by parliamentary means when a vote of no-confidence they called failed by a sizeable margin. Protest leaders, however disappointed, vowed to continue their demonstrations. Soon after the vote, about 5,000 protesters gathered outside the presidential administration building, then moved to the capital's central Independence Square, where the crowd grew to more than 10,000, according to police estimates. The opposition called for the parliamentary vote in protest both of President Viktor Yanukovych's shelving of a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union, and the violent tactics used by police to disperse demonstrators protesting that decision.

"There is no way back," says Volodymyr Sherstiuk of the Ukrainian folk-rock group Kozak System, one of several bands playing on the scene. “People are united and will stay here as long as they have to."

But despite the transformation over the weekend – from simple protest against the government's decision not to sign an association agreement with the EU last week, to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians calling for the government and president to step down – experts say that current events in Ukraine are not a replay of Ukraine's Orange Revolution.

Though the protests have similarities to the 2004 demonstrations that knocked Ukraine out of Russia's orbit, their outcome is likely to be far less radical, as President Viktor Yanukovych tries to wait out protesters and thread the needle to placate both pro-European forces and Russia.

Revolutionary mood

The current protests are made up of young people who are too young to remember the Orange Revolution, and are still learning how to organize protests. But the 2004 revolution remains a touchstone for their efforts against the government.

“If we don't defeat them, we will have no future here,” says Oleg, one of the young activists at the square.

“I don't belong to any party, I came here to fight with police” in response to their weekend attack on protesters, he adds. “During the Orange Revolution it was different, then there was no aggression. Now people are very angry.”

That anger was fed by the Ukrainian opposition’s failed no-confidence vote earlier in the day, which protesters had hoped would oust Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s cabinet. But the opposition fell 40 votes short of the mark.

“We've stood here in freezing weather for a few days, and politicians, as usual, let us down,” says Tatiana Marchenk, a student in Kiev.

A different Ukraine

But despite the mood on the streets, analysts say, these protests will not follow the same arc as 2004.

“It's not a second Orange Revolution,” says Pawel Kowal, a chairman of the European Parliament delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. "It's hard to compare protests in 2004 with what is happening today at [Independence Square] in Kiev."

“The Orange Revolution was a middle-class revolution, was organized by the opposition, and had strong leaders: Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko. Today, those on the streets are mainly young people and students who gathered there spontaneously to protest against Yanukovych and his government,” Mr. Kowal adds.

At the same time, Mr. Yanukovych's political support among Ukraine's southern and eastern regions, which are more pro-Russia, may be ebbing. Though the country's Russian-speaking regions are unhappy about integration with the EU, those regions are not coming out for Yanukovych the way they did during the Orange Revolution.

“Yanukovych is losing active support – during the Orange Revolution we saw many people on the streets in the eastern part of the country," particularly in his native, industrial region of Donetsk,” says Ievgen Vorobiov, a Ukrainian analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw." But today, this is a very rare sight."

“Many people are disappointed with him," says Rostyslav Kramar, a political analyst at the University of Warsaw and a Ukrainian. "He promised a lot but economic and social conditions didn't improve during his presidency, thousands or even millions of Ukrainians have been forced to look for jobs abroad.”

Even Yanukovych's party is not a monolith now – a few people left the party since the protests began. The governor of Donetsk has backed protesters in Kiev. And students from Donetsk wrote a public letter in the Ukrainian language to students in Lviv – a major city in pro-EU western Ukraine – in which they proclaimed their desire to walk through the EU's doors with their western peers. These kind of gestures would have been hard to imagine during the Orange Revolution, says Dr. Kramar.

Yanukovych's next move

The EU has emphasized that its door remains open to Ukraine, and that Yanukovych is welcome to sign the agreement at a planned EU-Ukraine summit in the spring. But “he has to act more quickly, if he wants to be ready on time," warns Kowal. "In the latter half of the next year it will be too late, because we will have elections for the European Parliament" – pulling the EU's focus away from Ukraine – "and in 2015 Ukrainians will choose a new president,” further delaying a deal.

Kramar says the most likely scenario is that Yanukovych will stay in power, but his prime minister, Mr. Azorov, will be forced to resign. “Yanukovych's main goal is to win elections in 2015. He will do everything to achieve this goal, even sacrifice his ministers and impose Russian standards in Ukraine, if that will help him to win an electoral contest.”

Yanukovych has already started his campaign, Mr. Vorobiov says, pointing to the president's decision to travel to China today despite the situation in Kiev. "He wants to show that nothing serious is really happening and everything is under control.”

Kramar thinks that in the coming months the protests in Ukraine will lose momentum. “People can't protest on the street forever, the winter is coming and so are the holidays. I'm afraid that the opposition will lose some power and vigor, and Yanukovych will play for time. He won't impose any radical changes and reforms in the country.”

And Yanukovych will likely try to keep his options open with both the EU and Russia, Vorobiov adds. “Yanukovych will go to Brussels soon and probably promise to sign some kind of agreement with the EU to neutralize the opposition," and “later he will visit Moscow and try to negotiate better trade arrangements with Putin.”

Escalation?

And while some protesters have taken to calling the president "bloody Viktor" after the police's violent attacks over the weekend, experts say that it doesn't seem that Yanukovych will decide to use force against protesters again.

But still, they note, there is cause for concern.

“It seems like [Yanukovych] looks through Eastern not Western politician's glasses now,” says Kramar. “If we look at Russia or other countries in the region, military solution is not something unusual.”

“It is a bad sign that many policemen from the Berkut special unit are very close to the square,” adds Vorobiov. Anti-government groups accuse the Berkut riot police of using intimidation to suppress protests.

But if Yanukovych uses force, he will be totally isolated in the West and will have no other choice than become a vassal of Moscow.

“People are determined to fight, it doesn't look like they will give up easily,” says Kramar. “Everything depends on a political solution being worked out in the coming days. If politicians don't satisfy the protesters, I would not rule out a military solution.”
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Offline MilEME09

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2014, 16:19:27 »
What if the Russians sent two ships. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2533846/Battle-stations-Navy-scrambles-destroyer-challenge-Russian-warship-British-coast-takes-24-hours-make-600-mile-journey-Portsmouth-base-Putin-testing-response-time.html#ixzz2pZG9Gslw

24 hours is a long time, and a black eye to the Royal navy in my opinion, a ship loaded with land attack cruise missiles could cause a lot of damage and be gone in 24 hours. Though from the article it sounds like the RAF was on top of things at least. With decreasing Western military budgets Russia seems to be taking full advantage to push their capabilities and test response times of the west. I wonder if this will become business as usual in the North Sea, similarly to how Russian aircraft have to be intercepted in the arctic frequently?
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Offline Robert0288

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2014, 17:53:16 »
Definitely a black eye for the navy, but in all honesty the RAF could have sunk the thing extremely quickly compared the the naval response time.

In other news:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140106/DEFREG01/301060017/Russia-s-Navy-Buy-40-New-Vessels

Quote
Russia's Navy To Buy 40 New Vessels
WARSAW — With the aim of modernizing and overhauling its fleet, the Russian Navy plans to acquire 40 new vessels in 2014, said Rear Adm. Viktor Bursuk, the Navy’s deputy commander.

The procured vessels will include a Borey-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, a Varshavyanka diesel-electric submarine and the search-and-rescue ship Igor Belousov, Bursuk told local news agency RIA Novosti.

The admiral, who is responsible for the Navy’s arms procurements, said that at least two diesel-electric submarines are to be added to the Black Sea fleet. The Navy already operates two Borey-class submarines.

Bursuk did not disclose the value of the planned acquisitions.

The procurements will be part of Russia’s plan to spend US $650 billion on new arms and military equipment for its armed forces by 2020.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that strengthening the Navy’s presence in the Arctic is one of Russia’s top defense priorities for the future. The announcement was made at a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry’s board.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2014, 18:02:49 »
Given the Russian economy is about the size of Italy's, we should be wondering how they can afford this and if this buying spree is sustainable.

We should also wonder why with the size of our economy we cant afford to procure a few basic things like combat boots and trucks in a reasonable amount of time (much less ships and aircraft).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline 57Chevy

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2014, 20:11:57 »
Quote from article above;
 "Putin said that strengthening the Navy’s presence in the Arctic is one of Russia’s top defense priorities for the future"

Perhaps it's time to consider adding a section to The Rangers.

 :sarcasm:

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2014, 21:41:52 »
Years ago, fairy tales all began with, "Once upon a time." Now we know they all began with, "If I'm elected."

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2014, 22:32:46 »
Depending on its home port (NORFLT or BALFLT) you would have thought that either Norway or Denmark would have passed on info of its transit.
The article did note that ".....as the Russian ship retreated. They followed it north to the Baltic Sea, where a Russian task force was on legitimate manoeuvres."  I'd guess its transit was reported as part of the "legitimate" group, then breaking off further out to sea. 

But then, making an assessment based on one newspaper article (UK Daily Mail at that) is a gutsy move.  :dunno:
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2014, 13:35:40 »
The interesting thing about this is while the economic decline is observable, the reason for the decline is hotly debated. I would suspect that a very strong factor would be the extreme centralization of the Russian economy, with a great many resources misallocated due to crony and State capitalism.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/01/russia-is-losing-sources-of-economic.html

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Russia Is Losing Sources of Economic Growth and like Brazil and India has stagflation
 
Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics has written about the problems that Russia has generating economic growth
 
The annual Gaidar Forum, held last week in Moscow, is a good occasion to assess the country's economic state of affairs. Russia's economy and politics are marked by what optimists call stability and what pessimists call stagnation.
 
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed that Russia's economic growth sources have been exhausted, and he introduced the idea of Russia being in a "middle-income trap," drawing on an academic paper by the Berkeley Professor Barry Eichengreen. Medvedev was concerned with the sudden slowdown in economic growth, which is common to countries that have reached middle incomes, such as Russia and Brazil.
 
Sensibly, Medvedev emphasized that the causes were primarily domestic in nature. Russia risks losing out when competing with more advanced economies because of insufficient institutions and high costs in less developed economies. It needs to improve the quality of its labor, management, health care, pension system and, most of all, its institutions. Yet as usual, Medvedev ended with only minor proposals for improvement, notably in the business environment.

First Deputy Chair of the Central Bank of Russia Ksenia Yudayeva claimed that Russia, like India and Brazil, had entered "stagflation," as the West did in the 1970s. Their economic growth was declining, while inflation was rising.
 
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev opened the forum with a daring programmatic speech. Russia now seemed stuck at an annual growth rate of no more than 2.5 percent, while the rest of the world was set to grow at 3.5 percent. He focused on two factors to boost growth. Russia's investment of 21 percent of gross domestic product needed to increase to the savings rate of 30 percent of GDP. The other factor was to promote supply by improving Russia's institutions in several ways.
 
Corruption was discussed in multiple panels, but only as a low-level problem of doing business rather than as top-level larceny. The obvious solution is to discipline big state corporations, privatize them, and liberalize their markets. But everyone realizes that this is not possible under the current regime, which favors economically harmful state corporations.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2014, 21:15:45 »
How this ends will have long term implications for Russia's ability to remain relevant. Attempting to stand between the EU and Russia is not tenable. If the Ukraine moves to Russia, it strenthens Russian power for a generation, while if the protestors are successful and move to the EU, it will weaken Russia far more than most people probably realize (looking upthread at Russian economic statistics and the questions about Russian demographics don't put them in a good place):

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2013/1203/Is-Ukraine-s-unrest-a-new-Orange-Revolution-in-the-making-video

I don't see how Russia can let this situation go south (no pun intended...) It would mean that they were then flanked on all three sides (less the East) by pro-Western countries (I don't count Belarus, which as far as I can tell is a Russian "Mini-Me".) It would also (and perhaps more critically) deny them access to the port use agreement by which, AFAIK, they are still able to sustain a Black Sea Fleet.

As much as I bet Putin really, really doesn't want a detraction from the Potemkin village that is Sochi, my money is on a military intervention if the anti-Russian crowd actually seizes power. The pretexts will be variations on one or more of the usual that Russia has trotted out in the past: "fraternal" assistance to the legally elected govt of the Ukraine against Western-controlled rebels; protection of ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, etc, etc.
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2014, 23:06:06 »
..... doesn't want a detraction from the Potemkin village that is Sochi...
:rofl:   Nice.

If nothing else, I think the Russians tend to have a better grasp on time.  I suspect that 'Sochi being wonderful' will trump pretty much anything else; whatever happens in Ukraine will go uncontested (except hand-wringing within Pravda) because Russia can wait to deal with them.  After the Olympics, all bets are off.


ps - I think Belarus is worse than a Russian "Mini-Me" in that they're just as xenophobic, but living in Russia's shadow they have a "small man" neurosis tacked onto it.


Edit: punctuation
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:52:53 by Journeyman »
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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2014, 03:22:47 »
Most of Ukraine isn't protesting, especially east of Kiev. That side is very amenable to closer ties to Russia than to the EU. 
As for Belarus, aren't they more Russian than the Russians?
So, there I was....

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2014, 15:44:44 »
Most of Ukraine isn't protesting, especially east of Kiev. That side is very amenable to closer ties to Russia than to the EU. 
As for Belarus, aren't they more Russian than the Russians?

That's always been my impression. They want Stalin to come back: Putin is too much of a Westernized wussy for them.

But, seriously, you raise a good point about East-West Ukraine division. One wonders if there is a Yugo-style civil war on the horizon. Which will, of course, only further guarantee that Moscow will send in the Cossacks.
The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. ...

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out...

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2014, 23:01:41 »
Russia as a Potemkin Village. So long as people remain dazzled by the external appearance, or need the backing of a supposedly Great Power for diplomatic purposes, Russia can continue to pull off the Great Power act. The economic foundation is crumbling, and Russia's social foundations have been unmoored for at least a generation:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/blog/2014/02/21/putins-achilles-heel/

Quote
Putin’s Achilles Heel

Give Putin some credit: He has put together an impressive spectacle in Sochi. But while the world’s attention is focused on Kiev and the billion-dollar show in the Caucasus, Russia’s economy as a whole is slowly falling apart. Capital flight is accelerating, and the ruble has fallen by 8.1 percent this year and 1.7 percent in the past week alone. Only the Argentinian peso is doing worse.

Russia was also forced to cancel three debt auctions in four weeks due to weak demand and high yields. The markets have cast a skeptical eye on Putin’s policies, particularly his decision to pledge $15 billion in aid to Ukraine so soon after dropping nearly three times that amount on Sochi. As one analyst told Bloomberg:

“The meddling with Ukraine certainly hurts Russia’s image as an investment destination,” David Hauner, a fixed-income and currency strategist at Bank of America Corp., said in a telephone interview from London. “It is not going to bankrupt Russia, but $15 billion can turn out to be $50 billion, and Russia will have to plug the holes for a couple years.”

Another analyst noted that the trouble in Ukraine was hurting Russia’s image in the markets:

“From a psychological standpoint, Ukraine’s problems affect foreign investors’ perception of Russia,” Vladimir Bragin, head of research at Alfa Capital in Moscow, said in a telephone interview. “In their eyes, the first reaction is to sell Russia, cut risks. It’s in Russia’s interests that the situation stabilizes” in Ukraine.

Putin’s foreign policy successes will be hard to replicate in the economic sphere, where he can’t count on Western fecklessness or incompetence to bail him out. Russia’s economic troubles are the consequence of his failure to lead an effective economic transformation over the past two decades.

Imagine if Putin had been able to develop a track record like the Chinese Communists over the past 20 years. Russia would be in far better shape than it is today and would likely have the money to devote to both Sochi and Ukraine without spooking the markets. But he hasn’t, and he doesn’t appear likely to do so in the future.

Russia’s failure is not about democracy, transparency, or corruption. China has galloping corruption and little democracy or transparency, but it has still managed to pursue a successful development path. Putin’s Russia hasn’t, and now it’s paying the price.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2014, 01:58:53 »
Magic Realism as a metaphor for Russia's political class. The striking contrast between the reality (a GDP the size of Italy and a per capita GDP similar to that of the Barbados) and the aspiration to regain Great Power or even Superpower status is going to ba a source of long term problems given Russia's xenophobic culture and the lingering sense of bitterness from their defeat in the Cold War:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2014/02/14/russias-political-magical-realism/

Quote
Russia’s Political Magical Realism
AUREL BRAUN
The glitter of the Sochi spectacle hides the reality of an empire in decline. Is Putin’s profligacy hastening Russia’s nosedive?

Published on February 14, 2014
Visitors who have braved the threat of terrorism and shelled out big bucks for airfare, hotels, and event tickets at the Sochi Olympics are getting something for their money: lavish ceremonies, world-class athletic competition, architecturally striking sporting venues, and spectacular vistas from the slopes. President Putin undoubtedly views the grandeur of these Olympics, by far the most costly in history, as a testimony to the greatness of Russia and a sign of its return to the commanding center of the international system. The irony is that Sochi reflects not what is great about Russia but much of what is fundamentally wrong with it.

The Sochi Olympics are emblematic of a perilous political distortion in Russia. Let’s call it “political magical realism,” after the literary technique used so successfully by writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the political context, this approach entails evading problems by retreating into fantasy rather than finding solutions for them. Some of the hallmarks of this approach are President Putin’s highly publicized, thoroughly ridiculous staged feats of personal strength, underwater archaeology, and wildlife rescues. The policy manifestations of this approach are Russia’s grandiose domestic projects and manic international activities, highlighted by political subversion of the judiciary, anti-gay laws, the prosecution of political opponents, and electoral malfeasance. The country, including now a large and seething opposition, are thus left to face a bizarre mix of the repressive and the risible.

None of this is to deny that Russia has the potential to climb out of this morass. Blessed with enormous natural resources and a talented, well-educated population, it still has the ability to become a successful modern state. Note that this is not about superpower restoration—a Putinite delusion. (Russia’s well documented demographic problems preclude this.) Rather, it is about Russia’s potential to become another Japan or Germany.(Interpolation: this is the best case scenario in the post Putin environment)

Russia remains weighed down by an uncompetitive uni-dimensional economy whose only viable exports are energy and armaments. The Kremlin’s unconscionable waste of Russia’s entrepreneurial energy, scientific talent, and national wealth have left the country with a nominal GDP equivalent to Italy (but without its international competitiveness and diversity) and a per capita GDP approximating that of Barbados.

Corruption in Russia remains not only endemic, but cannibalistic. Business law offers little protection, particularly to foreign investors, and the outflow of funds usually far exceeds incoming capital and investments. Putin has centralized corruption rather than reducing itPutin has centralized corruption rather than reducing it. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranks Russia 127th out of 174 countries.

Nonetheless Putin’s government continues to be driven by seemingly limitless domestic and international ambitions. With a stagnant economy that will likely come under increasing stress over the next few years, Russia is witnessing the yawning gap between the Kremlin’s unrestrained imperial ambitions and its true capacity transform into a treacherous gulf.

To be sure, Russia has enjoyed some seeming international successes. For example, Putin appears to have outmaneuvered President Obama and saved Russia’s Syrian client, Bashar al-Assad. Moscow also succeeded in bullying Ukraine into dropping its promise to sign the (Eastern Partnership) association agreement with the European Union and setting out on a path to join the Russian controlled Eurasian (Customs) Union. But as with many things involving Russia, here too appearances are deceiving.

In Syria, the Russian-brokered chemical weapons agreement with Syria could be called a “one percent solution” (as 99 percent of those who have died have been killed by conventional weapons); the fighting continues unabated and the situation has grown more unstable over time. There is also continuing friction between Moscow and Washington over the Kremlin’s support for Iran, its pressure on Ukraine and over its apparent violation of the 1987 treaty on intermediate-range nuclear forces. All of these may be coaxing the Obama Administration to take tougher measures against the Kremlin.

Further, Russian support for sordid dictatorships presents long-term risks—and not just risks to its reputation. In protecting the Iranian regime and thus facilitating its nuclear weapons ambitions, Moscow may find itself confronting a nuclear Iran whose missiles could just as easily reach the Russian capital as they could Israel. Associations with Belarus and support for Assad also impose heavy economic costs. In the case of Ukraine, the weakness and ineptness of the Yanukovych government could cause Russia’s expensive hegemonic plans there to unravel.

In light of all of these problems, the Sochi Olympics looks like nothing more than an absurdly lavish party, a fantasy that Russia can ill afford. After the Olympic torch goes dark and the euphoria of the games dissipates, the Kremlin will still have to face the cold reality of its failure to transform Russia into a modern state.

Aurel Braun is visiting professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He is also Professor of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Toronto. His latest book is NATO-Russia Relations in the Twenty-First Century.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2014, 03:29:38 »
...a GDP the size of Italy...
Which makes it a top ten GDP in the world.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, it is 8th largest in the world (after the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, the UK and Brazil).
According to the IMF, it is 8th as well (after the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, the UK and Brazil: the same as the UN Stats Division)
Same listing according to the world bank and the CIA world fact book.

(Interestingly, the EU is ahead of the USA in GDP, as an aside)

Also, let's not forget that Russia works by Russia's rules, not by ours.  And GDP isn't all it takes to succeed. 

So, there I was....

Online Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #41 on: February 27, 2014, 14:20:01 »
Indeed, but having fiscal resources is very important to acheive your goals. To act as a Superpower (the Putinite dream), then you need access to superpower levels of financial capability. Given the relatively limited financial capabilities, plus the declining manpower, Russia will have to make some very hard choices about where to actually deploy the resources.

Russia becoming a new "Japan" or "Germany" is a very achievable goalithin its resource envelope.

Of course to use these resources effectively, there will have to be a huge shift in Russian "culture", including developing independent and relatively "clean" institutions (rather than centralized corruption).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Technoviking

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #42 on: February 27, 2014, 16:51:20 »
They've turned the corner on their declining population.  Of course, its effect won't be felt for a decade or so.
But...its debt is only 11% of its GDP, whereas the U.S.'s is about 101%.
You keep talking as though Russia is about to collapse.  It's far from it, its economy is growing, and Putin has international clout, such as it is.
And he was able to mass a combined arms army on Ukraine's border, with over 800 tanks. He has power and we'd be daft to brush him off as impotent.
So, there I was....

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2014, 12:50:55 »
Look at the economic disaster that is Ukraine.The previous government spent the country into the ground.Which is why they need EU money.The Russian economy cannot carry the Ukraine without damaging its own shaky economy which is why I think Putin will be satisfied with the Crimea.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/canada-has-a-role-to-play-in-ukraines-future/article17131989/

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2014, 14:06:22 »
I agree with the article but rather than seeing the "informal economy" as a problem to be solved by technocrats (Gawd how I detest that word) I would see that as the foundation of a proto-capitalist society.  I would not be worrying about raising taxes from the broke and starving.  I would be encouraging them to convert and build the informal economy, through support to small and medium businesses, into a productive economy that can be taxed.

Ukraine needs short term financing.  It can't wait for the IMF to get its act together, and frankly the IMF terms seldom give comfort to any but the lenders.

Canada can afford to carry some of the bill as a bilateral loan.  The same is true for Britain, the US and Germany.

"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #45 on: March 03, 2014, 10:20:04 »
This latest crisis also bumped the price of NG, which helps Russia as it sells to Europe.

Online Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2014, 16:49:02 »
Is this the sort of thinking behind the actions of the Russian "elites"?

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/372353/eurasianist-threat-robert-zubrin#!

Quote
The Eurasianist Threat
Putin’s ambitions extend far beyond Ukraine.

ByRobert Zubrin
The National Bolshevik Party flag flies near a statue of Lenin.

As the Putin regime invades Ukraine, it has become apparent that a new force for evil has emerged in Moscow. It is essential that Americans become aware of the nature of the threat.

Putin is sometimes described as a revanchist, seeking to recreate the Soviet Union. That is a useful shorthand, but it is not really accurate. Putin and many of his gang may have once been Communists, but they are not that today. Rather, they have embraced a new totalitarian political ideology known as “Eurasianism.”

The roots of Eurasianism go back to czarist émigrés interacting with fascist thinkers in between-the-wars France and Germany. But in recent years, its primary exponent has been the very prominent and prolific political theorist Aleksandr Dugin.

Born in 1962, Dugin was admitted to the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979, but then was expelled because of his involvement with mystic neo-Nazi groups. He then spent the Eighties hanging around monarchist and ultra-right-wing circles, before joining for a while​ Gennady Ziuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF, a neo-Stalinist group partially descended from, but not to be confused with, the previously ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU), after which he became a founder and chief ideologue of the Eurasianist National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in 1994.

Nazism, it will be recalled, was an abbreviation for National Socialism. National Bolshevism, therefore, put itself forth as an ideology that relates to National Socialism in much the same way as Bolshevism relates to Socialism. This open self-identification with Nazism is also shown clearly in the NBP flag, which looks exactly like a Nazi flag, with a red background surrounding a white circle, except that the black swastika at the center is replaced by a black hammer and sickle.

Dugin ran for the Duma on the NBP ticket in 1995, but got only 1 percent of the vote. So, switching tactics, he abandoned the effort to build his own splinter party and instead adopted the more productive strategy of becoming the idea man for all the bigger parties, including Putin’s United Russia, Ziuganov’s CPRF, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. In this role he has succeeded brilliantly.

The core idea of Dugin’s Eurasianism is that “liberalism” (by which is meant the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world. Repeating the ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van der Bruck, Dugin says that this liberal threat is not new, but is the ideology of the maritime cosmopolitan power “Atlantis,” which has conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times. Accordingly, he has written books in which he has reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome v. Carthage to Russia v. the Anglo Saxon “Atlantic Order,” today. If Russia is to win this fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (because foreign-imposed) ideas as human rights, however, it must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into a grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.

In order to be so united, this Eurasian Union will need a defining ideology, and for this purpose Dugin has developed a new “Fourth Political Theory” combining all the strongest points of Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism, thereby allowing it to appeal to the adherents of all of these diverse anti-liberal creeds. He would adopt Communism’s opposition to free enterprise. However, he would drop the Marxist commitment to technological progress, a liberal-derived ideal, in favor of Ecologism’s demagogic appeal to stop the advance of industry and modernity. From Traditionalism, he derives a justification for stopping free thought. All the rest is straight out of Nazism, ranging from legal theories justifying unlimited state power and the elimination of individual rights, to the need for populations “rooted” in the soil, to weird gnostic ideas about the secret origin of the Aryan race in the North Pole.

The open devotion to Nazism is Dugin’s thought is remarkable. In his writings he celebrates the Waffen SS, murderers of millions of Russians during the war, as an ideal organization. He also approves of the most extreme crimes of Communism, going so far as to endorse the horrific 1937 purges that killed, among numerous other talented and loyal Soviet citizens, nearly the entire leadership of the Red Army — something that Stalin himself later had second thoughts about.

What Russia needs, says Dugin, is a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism.” On the other hand, “Liberalism, is an absolute evil. . . . Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization, and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. . . . The American empire should be destroyed.”

This is the ideology behind the Putin regime’s “Eurasian Union” project. It is to this dark program, which threatens not only the prospects for freedom in Ukraine and Russia, but the peace of the world, that former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych tried to sell “his” country. It is against this program that the courageous protesters in the Maidan took their stand and — with scandalously little help from the West — somehow miraculously prevailed. But now the chips are really down. The Ukrainians are being faced not with riot police, but with Russian divisions, subversion, and economic warfare. The country needs to be stabilized, and defended. The Ukrainians deserve our full support — and not just for reasons of sympathy for those resisting tyranny or respect for the brave. It is in the vital interest of America that freedom triumphs in Ukraine.

Without Ukraine, Dugin’s fascist Eurasian Union project is impossible, and sooner or later Russia itself will have to join the West and become free, leaving only a few despised and doomed islands of tyranny around the globe. But with Ukraine underfoot, the Eurasianists’ program can and will proceed, and a new Iron Curtain will fall into place imprisoning a large fraction of humanity in the grip of a monstrous totalitarian power that will become the arsenal of evil around the world for decades to come. That means another Cold War, trillions of dollars wasted on arms, accelerated growth of the national-security state at home, repeated proxy conflicts costing millions of lives abroad, and civilization itself placed at risk should a single misstep in the endless insane great-power game precipitate the locked and loaded confrontation into a thermonuclear exchange.

The 20th century saw three great-power confrontations. Two of them turned into total war. We lucked out on the third. Do we really want to roll those dice again? We will have to, unless the Eurasianist program is stopped.

The stakes in Ukraine could not be higher.

— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy and the author of Energy Victory. The paperback edition of his latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, has just been published by Encounter Books.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Robert0288

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2014, 21:10:01 »
Deserved to be in a Russia thread, but there isn't enough information for its own.

Apparently a 100MW power plant in Novokuznetsk exploded yesterday, looks like it supplied power to a town of about 550,000 people as well as being home to metal industries.   On the bright side, its non-nuclear.

http://englishrussia.com/2014/03/07/an-explosion-at-novokuznetsk-power-plant/#more-141118
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=89f_1394272050&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=33227215
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novokuznetsk

Online Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2014, 11:23:44 »
Russian nationalism raises some disturbing questions about what sort of future Vladimir Putin is setting for Russia, and what sort of state it is evolving into:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2014/03/14/putins-nationalist-gamble/

Quote
Putin’s Nationalist Gamble

Raymond Sontag

In justifying his intervention in Crimea with a duty to defend Russians abroad, Putin is fueling the destructive fire of nationalism. It could be Russia’s undoing.
 
Published on March 14, 2014

On the eve of Moscow’s incursion into Crimea, the Kremlin mouthpiece Izvestia ran a headline declaring “A Majority of Russians Consider Crimea Russian Territory”. Curiously, though, the article that followed was not about Russia needing to grab territory, but rather about its struggle to hold the territory it has. According to a recent poll, the paper wrote, while 56 percent believe Crimea is Russian land, only about 40 percent consider Russia’s predominantly Muslim regions of Chechnya and Dagestan to be such. Existing state borders, it seems, mean little to Russians’ ideas of what constitutes Russia.
 
This fact may embolden the country’s leaders to occupy foreign territory, but it also scares them. Izvestia called this failure to accept ethnic minorities as countrymen the “single greatest danger to the Russian state’s integrity”. In this, it echoed Vladimir Putin’s recent campaign to promote a civic national identity as opposed to one based on ethnicity. “Nationalists must remember that by calling into question our multi-ethnic character… we will begin to destroy ourselves” he warned recently. “In order to maintain the nation’s unity, people must develop a civic identity on the basis of shared values.”
 
In justifying his intervention in Crimea with a duty to defend Russians or Russian-speakers abroad, though, Putin has fueled the destructive fire of nationalism that his civic-identity campaign is meant to combat. If Russians conceive of their country in ethnic terms, why should minorities and the regions they dominate be part of that country? And why should predominantly ethnic Russian regions in other countries not be part of that state? A Russia that defines itself in ethnic terms will be unable to integrate territories in the North Caucasus peacefully and will be more likely to look at lands beyond its borders as rightfully its own.
 
Many have dismissed both Putin’s civic-identity campaign and his commitment to Russians abroad as cynical ploys meant only to serve immediate political needs. Indeed, Putin until now has shown little interest in ethnicity, ideology or identity, largely ignoring Russians abroad and dismissing the search for a national idea that many pundits and politicians engage in as an “ancient Russian game”. But Putin’s motivations and sincerity are beside the point. The dangerous nationalist tendencies he claims to combat at home are real even if he does not recognize or care how his actions abroad exacerbate those tendencies.
 
An Old Problem
 
Russia’s worsening interethnic relations do seem to have captured Putin’s attention before his latest adventures in Ukraine. According to the Levada polling firm the number of people who support the idea that “Russia is for [ethnic] Russians” – a favorite slogan among right-wing groups – grew from 55 percent to 66 percent between 2002 and 2013, while the proportion who oppose the phrase as “true fascism” declined from 28 percent to 19 percent. Similarly, over that period the number of people who said they “felt hostility toward people of different nationalities” grew from 12 percent to 20 percent. As a 2013 government report noted, “post-Soviet Russia has a crisis of civic identity, ethnic intolerance, separatism and terrorism, as a result of which there is a danger of society disintegrating.” To combat this, the report proposes a $186-million, 6-year program to “strengthen the unity of the Russian Federation’s multinational people”. Putin has devoted considerable attention to this problem, making it the focus of his 2013-state of the-nation address.
 
The problem of forming a common identity out of myriad ethnicities and managing ethnic Russian nationalism is, of course, not new for Russia. The Soviet Union faced the same challenge and it was ultimately a resurgence of ethnic nationalisms that broke that country apart. Putin’s civic-identity campaign, in fact, borrows heavily from Soviet nationalities policy: It is based largely on opposition to Western liberalism; it seeks to preserve and promote the country’s various ethnic cultures while uniting them in a larger community; it emphasizes protecting the state and the ethnic group and deemphasizes the rights of the individual; and it seeks simultaneously to temper ethnic Russian nationalism and harness it as a uniting force. “For centuries, Russia developed as a multi-ethnic nation” Putin said in his 2012 state-of-the-nation address, “a civilization-state bonded by the [ethnic] Russian people, Russian language and Russian culture native for all of us, uniting us and preventing us from dissolving in this diverse world.”
 
Whereas the Soviet Union could build an identity around Marxism-Leninism, Putin’s Russia lacks any such unifying ideas. He has offered as ideology a brand of conservatism that emphasizes defending “traditional values” against Western political and cultural encroachment, with opposition to same-sex partnerships and efforts to promote democracy around the world featuring prominently. He presents this conservatism as a philosophy of national salvation from forces that would overturn the traditional order, explaining it by quoting the twentieth-century anti-revolutionary philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev: “The point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.” But while the Kremlin has assigned reading and organized seminars for government officials in an effort to develop this ideology, it still largely lacks positive values and is primarily reactive. Putin is far longer on what he opposes than what he is for.
 
Can’t Have It Both Ways
 
The crisis in Ukraine has shown the promise, limits and dangers of Putin’s ideology. On the one hand, the idea of defending the beleaguered people of Crimea from Western encroachment has been a powerful and popular message within Russia. On the other hand, official language on the subject veers quickly into ethnic Russian nationalism, with no real appeal to common values. Putin’s rhetoric on Ukraine is, in fact, another attempt to harness ethnic Russian nationalism without embracing it. He has tried to avoid mention of ethnic Russians when discussing motivations for intervening, instead pointing to a duty to protect “Russian-speaking populations”. Russian language, something common to all Russia’s citizens, seems like safer ground than ethnicity for building support for military action abroad. Further down the Kremlin’s propaganda vertical, though, this distinction becomes muddled.
 
The country’s main television channel this week, for example, described a large protest in Stavropol as being in “defense of [ethnic] Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine”. That a protest in Stavropol, a city in the diverse and restive North Caucasus, would focus on protecting ethnic Russians is notable and troubling. Interethnic tensions have been most destructive in this part of the country and checking separatist movements there is a primary objective of the civic-identity campaign. If, encouraged by Moscow, people in the North Caucasus are taking to the streets to defend the rights of ethnic Russians, what chance do efforts to build peace and unity through common civic values have? In his drive for Crimea, Putin is undermining one of the great projects of his presidency: keeping regions such as Chechnya and Dagestan within Russia.
 
Moscow’s expansion of power in Ukraine weakens its power in the North Caucasus not only because of the separatist precedent it sets, but because of what it says about how the country sees itself: as “Russia for Russians” and not a multinational people. Putin has kept the North Caucasus under control through force and massive spending, a policy that has spawned one of Russian nationalists’ favorite slogans: “Enough Feeding the Caucasus!” Money and lives spent in the North Caucasus alienates the rest of Russia from that part of the country, necessitating that more lives and resources be spent to hold on to it. Failure to build a real sense of national unity means that Russia’s colonial project within its own borders will have to continue until the will and means to fight are exhausted. The idea of Russia ultimately paying a high price at home for its actions in Ukraine may well please American politicians and pundits eager to see Putin punished. But Russia losing control of the North Caucasus would likely be disastrous for the outside world.

Raymond Sontag received his doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford in 2011. He previously served as the program officer for the National Democratic Institute's political party program in Moscow.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline pbi

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #49 on: March 21, 2014, 10:24:30 »
Putin is nothing if not astute. He knows what ancient buttons to push in the Russian psyche, and how to exploit what seem to me to be the narrow-minded, suspicious, xenophobic/paranoid attitudes of the average citizen. (Kind of like a Russian version of the Tea Party...)

All he has to do is say "those Western devils and their lackies the (insert despised ethnic minority here) are threatening Mother Russia! They will force us all to be gay liberals, and to wear clothes that were made after 1978!!"

Then the usual gang of skin-heads, neo-fascists, bemedalled veterans and leather jacketed, slightly overweight men with bad haircuts take to the streets and kick it up a notch.

OK, now I'm indulging in stereotyping.... >:D

Even Stalin and his gang resorted to this nationalism in WWII: when things when bad, he made an emotional and deeply traditional appeal to Russians as Russians, not as internationalist Communists. After all: look at what they called WWII: "The Great Patriotic War of The Fatherland".
The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. ...

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out...