Author Topic: Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]  (Read 291772 times)

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Offline tomahawk6

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Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]
« on: August 24, 2013, 17:16:16 »
Interesting American Thinker article about Putin stepping into the power vacuum left by the US.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/08/dangerous_times_russia_rising_in_the_middle_east.html

Quote
In the absence of American strength and reliability, all the players are turning to Russia, which is emerging:

● as a vocal defender of Christianity against Muslim persecution around the world;

● as a plausible peacemaker in the Middle East, with far better relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria than America has today;

● as the monopoly natural gas supplier for Germany, with the consent of the Franco-German axis;

● as the only country with a credible a nuclear umbrella to protect its friends and deter its enemies;

● as a country that understands the value of relatively free markets -- witness the 14% flat tax Putin just introduced in Russia.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2017, 14:28:11 by kratz »

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2013, 17:24:18 »
Interesting but, I think, because it is designed to convince Americans to change governments, not because it presents a credible case for a Russian turn around.

I remain convinced that Russia is a failing state, not a potential leader of even a rival for any of the America, China or India.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2013, 23:38:07 »
I'm not so sure about Russia "turning around", but they have the legacy of an "Empire", a legacy military force and a large reserve of resource wealth, so stepping into a power vacuum isn't to difficult to imagine.

It also bolster's the legitimacy of the Russian ruling elites, and serves (like most Imperial ventures) to distract the people from issues and problems at home and the "near abroad".

Historically, Europeans have been afraid more of the potential of Russia rather than the reality. Everyone was afraid of the "Russian Steamroller", but it finally came into existence only in the second half of the "Great Patriotic War" after years of being forged in the fires of real combat against the Nazis. As you yourself have pointed out on many occasions, the Red Army *we* feared during the Cold War was generally ill led, ill trained, ill disciplined and poorly equipped, and this only a few decades after their military peak. I'm sure the situation is the same today.
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 Kat Stevens

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 00:02:14 »
Not sure I'm really getting that warm fuzzy feeling from having the worlds largest Thugocracy as the go to guy in the second, third, or lost world.
Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline Bert

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 00:23:19 »
The article puts a comparative microscope on some aspects of US and Russian foreign policy and leadership styles of Obama and Putin.  Pushing aside critiques of Obama's application of foreign policy, any US President would be hard pressed dealing with unpayable levels of national debt and the hampered ability to project influence globally.  Other regional powers are filling the gaps.  Putin, as I recall reading from a Stratfor
article some time ago, implied he's got a short time to gain geo-economic/political influence until his "term" ends (no strong successor) and the population demographics slide.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 10:04:55 »
The article puts a comparative microscope on some aspects of US and Russian foreign policy and leadership styles of Obama and Putin.  Pushing aside critiques of Obama's application of foreign policy, any US President would be hard pressed dealing with unpayable levels of national debt and the hampered ability to project influence globally.  Other regional powers are filling the gaps.  Putin, as I recall reading from a Stratfor
article some time ago, implied he's got a short time to gain geo-economic/political influence until his "term" ends (no strong successor) and the population demographics slide.

The US economy is a powerful engine if allowed to function without interference.The debt could easily be paid down,unfortunately this crowd in dc are anti-business.They also don't care for the military and will use the defense budget to foster their agenda.The latter isn't new at all.Meanwhile,as has happened before other nations will try to take advantage of our weaknesses.

Offline AirDet

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 22:02:19 »
When it comes down to the dollars and cents; Russia has a GDP less than that of Italy. That mere fact limits what they can do and influence.
Just because an opinion differs doesn't make it any less valid. Remember those who gave their ALL to guarantee freedom of speech.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2013, 12:13:46 »
When it comes down to the dollars and cents; Russia has a GDP less than that of Italy. That mere fact limits what they can do and influence.

True enough, but as the saying goes:

"Capitalism is about the use of capital"

If Russia is willing to use a large fraction of its economic resources to project military and political power into what it sees as its area of interest; and if that fraction works out to be more than rival States are willing to spend to oppose it, then Russia still comes out ahead WRT its interests.
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2013, 14:04:21 »
Putin uses his diplomatic, strategic and economic capital to achieve the results that he wants at the G-20 summit, as reported by Bloomberg:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-06/putin-overwhelms-obama-at-the-sulky-summit.html

Quote
Putin Overwhelms Obama at the Sulky Summit
By Leonid Bershidsky Sep 6, 2013 10:43 AM ET

When Russian President Vladimir Putin came out to welcome world leaders to this week's G-20 summit at the Constantine Palace in Strelna, a St. Petersburg suburb, many wondered how it would go between him and U.S. President Barack Obama.

The latter had, after all, likened Putin to a bored, slouching kid at the back of the class. The Russian ex-KGB officer, eight years Obama's senior, took offense. In an interview the day before the summit, he resorted to the royal "we" when commenting on Obama's remark: "I am surprised sometimes to read about body language, about us being bored or otherwise behaving differently. Who but ourselves can say what's in our heads and our souls?"

The leaders arrived one after another in Russian-assembled Series 7 BMWs that were provided by the hosts. Putin laughed with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and spent more time talking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel than to any of his other guests. Obama was the last to appear -– in his own Cadillac.

He extended his hand as soon as he climbed out of the limousine, and Putin did the same as he walked over to meet him. The handshake was brief, just long enough for photographers to capture Obama's broad smile and Putin's more tight-lipped one.

Through most of the first day Putin and Obama avoided each other. The organizers initially wanted to seat the G20 leaders according to the Russian alphabetical order of their countries, putting only King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia between Putin and Obama, but decided at the last moment to switch to the Latin alphabet. The Russian and U.S. presidents ended up separated by five people. They didn't exchange a meaningful word.

Finally, the two stepped aside for a 20-minute conversation during the first day's dinner and reception. The talk appears to have been inconclusive.

The St. Petersburg meeting of the G-20 may well go down in history as the Sulky Summit, but also as a qualified Putin victory. "Syria: G-20 trapped by Putin," read a headline in the conservative French newspaper le Figaro.

Most of the leaders present share the Russian president's views on whether to intervene in Syria, the most divisive issue on the agenda. European Council President Herman van Rompuy, representing the European Union at the summit, said early on that -- unlike Obama and his British, French, Turkish and Canadian allies -- he did not support airstrikes. Putin even received a letter from Pope Francis, which said the search for a military solution in Syria was "futile." Like van Rompuy, Merkel wants the situation to be resolved within the framework of the United Nations, and most of the leaders of the emerging world agree.

At June's G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted that Putin was an outlier in the group, because of his stand on Syria: "I don't think we should fool ourselves. This is G7 plus one ... We in the West have a very different perspective on this situation. Mr. Putin and his government are supporting the thugs of the Assad regime for their own reasons that I do not think are justifiable."

Yet Putin was able to block the G-8 from issuing a statement condemning Assad and demanding his ouster -- and that was before the Obama called for air strikes to punish Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

In St. Petersburg, Putin and Harper smiled and shook hands. The Canadian prime minister did not talk of "G-19 plus one." In the expanded format, a tough line on Assad is unpopular. Putin clearly enjoyed rubbing in the fact that a number of big, increasingly economically powerful countries did not feel the need to fall in with the U.S. line.

Putin also reveled in his role as host. It was he who cajoled Russian and foreign companies into helping to fund the $300 million refurbishment of the Constantine palace, finished in 2003. So the imperial splendor of the summit's backdrop was in part his doing. The meeting was impeccably and expensively organized, the Kremlin having splurged on a fleet of new buses and electric cars, a majestic light show at the baroque palace in Peterhof, and a further $60 million pre-summit facelift of the Constantine palace.

This being Russia, some of the expense was called into question. Dimtry Peskov, the Kremlin press secretary, said that during the first day of the summit, 1,500 people were served by the press center's restaurant, consuming 26 tons of food. "You're eating a lot," he told reporters. Journalists quickly calculated that Peskov's numbers came to 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds) of food per person.

"They must have allocated money for 26 tons of food," Elena Panfilova, head of the Russian branch of Transparency International, wrote only half-jokingly on Facebook. "Then they must have skimmed 50 percent right off and another 40 percent when they went about buying the 13 tons for which they had money left. That left them with about 7.5 tons. Then they lost another 30 percent to spillage and shrinkage during transportation and cooking. So about 5 tons was served, and I know from experience that one can put away some three kilos of canapes and sandwiches during a stressful event."

Syria aside, Obama and Harper have the same problem with Putin and his regime that many Russians do: It is transparently corrupt, Byzantine and self-serving. That, however, does not prevent it from organizing impressive international events and scoring diplomatic victories.

(Leonid Bershidsky, an editor and novelist, is a Bloomberg View contributor. He can be reached at bershidsky@gmail.com).
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2013, 10:40:17 »
This has been noted several times in the past, but so far no one has actually seemed to have taken action on this:

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-perspective/091313-671006-stop-putin-with-shale-revolution.htm

Quote
Gain Leverage Over Putin With Some 'Shale Diplomacy'
3 Comments
By WILLIAM F. SHUGHART II
 Posted 09/13/2013 05:26 PM ET

Dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't easy.

On the one hand he steps up as "peacemaker" in Syria, forestalling possible U.S. military action against the Assad regime for its alleged chemical-weapons atrocities.

At the same time, he reportedly is increasing sales of advanced anti-aircraft systems to Iran. And he continues to supply Assad with weapons as well.

What's the United States to do?

First, we need to sober up and recognize the source of Putin's power: petro-dollars. Half of Russia's state budget comes from foreign oil and gas revenue. So if we want leverage over Putin and his cronies, we need to break his petro piggybank.

While surging U.S. natural gas production already is applying pressure on the Russians, more can be done. Exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) and spreading the shale revolution abroad offer opportunities for undercutting Putin's power.

The early shale boom stunned global energy markets and caught Russia flatfooted. Its state-owned gas company, Gazprom, was forced to renegotiate supply contracts with European customers and book billion-dollar losses.

Russia's gas exports ran up against an unlikely competitor: cheap U.S. coal, which flooded the European electricity market as U.S. electric utilities switched from coal to low-cost and abundant natural gas.

However, Gazprom has since recovered, and its profits are climbing again. Exports of Russian gas to Europe are at a three-year high. Since more than half of Gazprom's revenue comes from such exports, Putin's coffers are flush again, and he's flexing his muscles.

Exporting more of our natural gas and technological expertise would be effective ways of hitting Putin where it hurts. With major shale formations scattered across Eastern Europe, the potential is there to pull Gazprom's largest export market out from under Putin's nose.

ConocoPhillips, Shell and Chevron, among other major oil-and-gas producers, have reached deals to begin shale development in former Soviet-bloc nations. Chevron alone already has leased some 5.6 million acres of shale-rich land in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania. More will follow.

Meanwhile, U.S. LNG exports are looming large. The Department of Energy has issued export licenses to three companies, with an eye on shipping LNG to key markets in Europe and Asia. With more than a dozen applications from other companies awaiting review, the U.S. could send Putin a strong message by immediately approving a half-dozen more.

Challenging Gazprom in Europe is just half the story. The Russians also are looking east to a huge market in Japan, which needs substitutes for nuclear power to generate electricity, following the accident at Fukushima.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-perspective/091313-671006-stop-putin-with-shale-revolution.htm#ixzz2esUUeZ1e
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2013, 10:55:37 »
The Russians have only a limited window to acheive whatever goals they hope to reach:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/8/berman-misreading-a-russia-on-the-run/print/

Quote
BERMAN: Misreading a Russia on the run

By Ilan Berman-The Washington Times Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Far from robust, the federation is facing implosion

Don't let Russia's recent attempts to play peacemaker on Syria fool you — U.S.-Russian relations are still on the rocks. A range of issues — from Russia's stubborn support for the Iranian regime to the Kremlin's very public snub of the White House in granting asylum to fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden — have cast a profound pall over bilateral ties. In the process, they have sounded the death knell for the vaunted "reset" of relations with Russia that President Obama made a centerpiece of his foreign-policy agenda during his first term in office.

In response, experts have taken to calling for a "strategic pause" in relations between Washington and Moscow, so that the White House can reassess exactly what is possible to achieve through outreach toward Russia. That's undoubtedly good thinking. However, Washington's reappraisal also needs to take into account the larger, more long-term threat to international security that is now posed by Russia. This is because the Russian Federation is fast approaching a massive social and political upheaval, one that promises to be as transformative as the Soviet Union's demise some two decades ago. Russia's coming crisis is driven by the convergence of three trends:

Russia is dying. The once-mighty Russian state is undergoing a catastrophic post-Soviet societal decline. Health standards are abysmal, and life expectancy in Russia is nothing like it is in the West — just age 60 for men (less than in Botswana and Madagascar) and 73 for women, roughly the same as in Saudi Arabia. Alcoholism — the scourge of Soviet society — continues to ravage the country, with a death rate among Russia's youth that is 35 times higher than among their counterparts in Europe. So does drug addiction. According to United Nations statistics, more than a fifth of all heroin consumed globally every year occurs in Russia. Prevalent, too, is a corrosive culture of abortion, with unofficial estimates placing the number of annual abortions at 2 million to 2.5 million — close to 2 percent of the Russian Federation's potential population.

In all, the country is contracting by close to half-a-million souls every year owing to both death and the emigration of its citizens (to Europe and beyond). At this rate, according to the Kremlin's own estimates, Russia could lose a quarter of its population by the middle of this century. It's a phenomenon that demographers have described as "the emptying of Russia" — a wholesale implosion of Russia's human capital, and a collapse of its prospects as a viable modern state.

Russia is also transforming. The country is experiencing a radical change in its ethnic and religious composition. Today, Russia's roughly 21 million Muslims are still a distinct minority. Comparatively robust birthrates have put Muslims on track to account for a fifth of the country's population by the end of this decade, and possibly a majority by midcentury.

Such a demographic revolution will fundamentally change Russia's character. That is not a problem, per se. In recent years, though, the Kremlin has discriminated against its Muslim minority and ignored (even abetted) the rise of corrosive xenophobia among its citizens. This has bred resentment and alienation among Russia's Muslims — sentiments that radical Islamic groups have been all too eager to exploit. The result is an increasingly restive Muslim minority that has little connection to — or love for — the Russian state.

Finally, the Chinese are coming. Over the past two decades, Russia's population east of the Ural Mountains has declined by a fifth, and now stands at some 25 million, or some six inhabitants per square mile on average. This depopulation has sharpened the strategic competition over the country's resource-rich east, which is now increasingly coveted by an energy-hungry China. In this unfolding contest, China, a rising global economic and strategic power, holds the upper hand over a declining Russia. Because it does, China could soon grow bold enough to challenge Russia for dominion over the latter's economically vital eastern territories.

This perfect storm of demographic change, religious transformation and external pressure will determine Russia's internal political climate, its place in the world, and its future strategic priorities. The economic and social indicators are unmistakable: The Russia of tomorrow will look radically different than that of today.

As they set about rethinking their approach to Russia, policymakers in Washington would be wise to understand this reality. They would be even wiser to begin planning for it.

Ilan Berman is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. He is the author of "Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America" (Regnery, 2013).

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/8/berman-misreading-a-russia-on-the-run/#ixzz2hQOlfxje
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2013, 18:01:13 »
And more on the decline of Russia. In the long run, a power vacuum in the Eurasian heartland will cause a long period of instability from Europe to China, and affect everyone else as well:

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/10/23/moldova-looks-to-europe-as-russian-influence-declines-throughout-region/

Quote
Moldova Looks to Europe as Russian Influence Declines Throughout Region
NocolaeTimofti

Add Moldova to the list of countries shunning Russian attempts to establish a customs union to rival Europe’s. And Moscow, appearing increasingly weak in its near-abroad, is furious.

Larger and more prosperous countries like Ukraine and Belarus are well on their way to choosing Europe over Russia, despite relentless Russian strong-arming. Armenia looked set to join them last month before its President abruptly gave in to Russian pressure and joined the Moscow-sponsored Eurasian Customs Union over the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

Now it’s Moldova’s turn to choose. After decades of dependence on Russia and the Soviet Union before it, the tiny republic, by far the poorest on the continent, seems to be heading Europe’s way. Its move westward has provoked the usual warnings and threats from Russian leaders. “We hope that you will not freeze,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said, suggesting Moscow would shut down the pipelines that send Russian gas to the energy-starved country. Not long after that, Russian officials, citing vague health concerns, stopped imports of Moldovan wine, which make up a huge percentage of the country’s exports. There have also been warnings that the tens of thousands of Moldovans working in Russia would be expelled.

“Rather than intimidating leaders of the country’s fragile coalition government, however, Russia’s tactics have only cemented their resolve to complete the political and free trade agreements with the European Union,” the New York Times reported today. “The signing of these agreements,” said the Moldovan president, “is the only chance that Moldova has in order to develop itself as a European country and in the European spirit.”

Within Moldova, not everyone is pleased about joining the EU. The Communist Party is strong there and is already agitating to bring down the pro-Europe ruling coalition. But many of the country’s businesspeople prefer Europe, a market of 500 million people, to Russia, where politics frequently get in the way of stable business and government. “We want to be treated by our bigger partners, if not equally, at least with respect,” a deputy foreign minister told the Times.

Though Moldova is a tiny country and only marginally important to Eurasian politics, its decision to pursue deeper integration with Europe is another sign of Russia’s declining influence in its near-abroad.

Quote
Hey, just because Vlad was able to roll Barry on Syria doesn’t mean he’s winning everywhere
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 #12 on: October 28, 2013, 12:10:53 »
I have never been to Russia, but I often wish I had. It might be very interesting to see the place first hand.

Failing that, I fall back on what I've read and seen on the media over the years, and what I've gathered from folks who have served in Russia or visited there with the CF, including fairly recently. I've served alongside Russians but it was only a small group, and only for six months.

My general impression is that Russia is a turd cake covered in bright shiny icing. While it certainly has lots of resources, and it can actually produce some pretty impressive pieces of kit from time to time, I think that politically, societally and physically it is dysfunctional and sick. Putin is popular, IMHO, because he appeals to a deep seated Russian comfort with being ruled with an iron fist, and not to have to think too much about anything. He benefits from the xenophobia and cultural arrogance that, again IMHO, seem to be salient characteristics of Russian society.

I can't imagine democracy (at least of the sort any of us would regard as credible) ever taking root in such a place, any more than it would in China. But I doubt that most Russians care, much.

The terms that come to my mind are backwardness, corruption, brutality and ignorance. Now, combine those with lots of petro dollars and a still fairly impressive military, and you get a very nasty and still possibly quite dangerous player on the world stage.
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 #13 on: October 28, 2013, 12:45:36 »
I was reading somewhere that Russia's population curve had bottomed out and stabilized. to be honest haven't had the time to look into that rather important bit of info. 

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2013, 01:12:00 »
I've read a similar article in the last year. It claimed that Russia had overcome its demographic nosedive and was actually close to achieving a birth rate well in excess of most EU countries. (Whi h may not be saying much considering their sclerotic growth rates, but would still be an improvement). I don't recall seeing anything else on this, so I'm not sure about the credibility.
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...

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2013, 22:46:46 »
Sorry folks, but the CIA World Fact Book says different:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html

Quote
Population growth rate:

-0.02% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
Birth rate:

12.11 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Death rate:

13.97 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10

While the cause of this has been debated for many years, the effect are quite clear. The one possible saftey valve the Russians may have is to attract ethnic Russians back to Russia from the "Near Abroad" (former Soviet territories), although for many ethnic Russians living outside Russia, it is hard to imagine what sort of incentives would work. Trade a relatively bleak existence for an extremely bleak one?
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 #16 on: October 30, 2013, 07:30:07 »
Sorry folks, but the CIA World Fact Book says different..

Nothing to be sorry about!!

Hopefully Russia's decline and eventual implosion will not send tremors through the geopolitical space around it, but that is probably wishful thinking.

A scary thought would be an increasingly desperate "backs against the wall" Russia that embarks on some more bullying adventures to revive the glory days,  make itself feel better and keep the home folks quiet. Kind of a bloody version of "bread and circuses".

Nothing quite as dangerous and unpredictable as a dying monster.
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...

Offline Technoviking

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2013, 13:47:59 »
Sorry folks, but the CIA World Fact Book says different:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html

While the cause of this has been debated for many years, the effect are quite clear. The one possible saftey valve the Russians may have is to attract ethnic Russians back to Russia from the "Near Abroad" (former Soviet territories), although for many ethnic Russians living outside Russia, it is hard to imagine what sort of incentives would work. Trade a relatively bleak existence for an extremely bleak one?
The *birth rate* in Russia has exceeded that of the USA.  Of course, this only talks of live births, not the population decline.  And the situation in Russia has improved.  The 0.02% decline is of one year. 
Check out the "population pyramid"



Note how there are more Russians who are 0-4 than 5-9, and how they in turn outnumber those 10-14. 


And again note how there are *fewer* of those 10-14 than 15-19, and how much less of them there are between 20-24.  And on.  In short, *something* happened around 10 years or so ago that saw their birth rate increase.


Also, you can see the history of WW2 in the pyramid.  With the war ending almost 70 years ago, those "vets" of ~90 years age and male are outnumbered, vastly, by the females of the similar age.  (Yes, I also acknowledge that women, by and large, live longer than men)


For comparison, here is the USA's population pyramid:

So, there I was....

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2013, 15:20:33 »
It seems the West faces a "Cougar gap"

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the Russians birthrate by region/ethnicity/religion.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2013, 21:55:25 »
Very interesting, if a bit strange. We still have the CIA World Fact Book figues showing deaths outnumbering births, so someone's figures are not adding up somewhere.

Overall, I'm still seeing Russia as being able to make a presence on the world stage in limited areas and at great expense, while still suffering an overall decline in fortunes. How this demographic "wave" will change things is hard to predict, young Russians growing up in a State in relative decline (and one that is declining from an already low starting point) will have lots to be angry about but few resources to apply to potential solutions.
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2013, 13:34:11 »
Actually, getting into space is easy (the WWII era V2 brushed the edge of space), staying in space is difficult because of the need for a vast amount of speed (@ Mach 25 to hit orbital velocity). These Soviet era ASATS and their modern descendants are very sophisticated, but shooting a sounding rocket straight up in the path of a satelite and releasing a bucket of ball bearings will also do the job. Interestig to see how far back the roots of space warfare really go.

As a counterpoint, the US X-37 spaceplane may well have been designed with these things in mind, having a very large reserve of fuel and the ability to make large changes in orbital parameters, as well as remain in space for extended periods of time before returnign to Earth:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/satellites/the-hidden-history-of-the-soviet-satellite-killer-16108970?click=pm_news

Quote
The Hidden History of the Soviet Satellite-Killer

As soon as the Space Age got under way, the Soviet Union was trying to build antisatellite weapons—and kept trying for decades.
By Anatoly Zak

RussianSpaceWeb
November 1, 2013 11:32 AM

Half a century ago, on Nov. 1, 1963, the Soviet Union launched the first prototype of the "killer" satellite—what we would call today an antisatellite system, or ASAT. Officially announced as Polyot-1 (or Flight-1), this highly maneuverable spacecraft was intended to test whether the Soviets could approach an "enemy" satellite and blow it in smithereens. This mission set off a decades-long race to develop and deploy offensive weapons in space that culminated in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan's famous Star Wars program.

Although a nuclear standoff between East and West subsided soon thereafter and the Cold War thawed, the danger of weaponization of space flared up again recently with the emergence of new space powers, such as China and Iran.

With the world dependent more than ever on satellites for communications, navigation, and other daily needs, the very possibility of orbital warfare could trigger a domino effect of costly measures and countermeasures—as the history of the Soviet killer satellite effort vividly illustrates.

Origin of the Soviet Satellite-Killer

The Space Age had hardly begun when Soviet engineers were already busy drawing blueprints of satellite killers. Following the famed 1960 Soviet shoot-down of an American U-2 spy plane, Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev was determined to do the same with the emerging "threat" from spy satellites, particularly the American Satellite Interceptor, or SAINT project, developed at the end of the 1950s and publicly disclosed in 1960.

Like their American counterparts, Soviet engineers initially considered piloted space fighters armed with missiles. Prominent leaders of the Soviet aviation industry including Vladimir Myasishev and, later, Vladimir Chelomei proposed orbital space planes, but their ideas were too far-fetched for that era. In the interim, the USSR settled on a remotely controlled robotic spacecraft.

The father of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, pushed for his flight-proven R-7 ICBM to carry an interceptor that would be sent on an exact collision course with its target. However, Chelomei argued for a self-guided orbital vehicle that would enter the proximity of an enemy satellite, explode, and pierce its target with shrapnel.

In 1960, the Kremlin chose Chelomei's concept. Dubbed Istrebitel Sputnikov (for the Satellite Destroyer), the barrel-shaped spacecraft would sport 17 thrusters to make any conceivable maneuver in orbit. It would be supported by a complex network of ground stations spread over several time zones across the Soviet Union for tracking enemy satellites and guiding the killer to its target. The top-secret command post for the system was located in the Moscow suburb of Noginsk. A pair of guidance stations were deployed in the Siberian town of Irkutsk and near Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan.

By 1962, while Soviet newspaper headlines proclaimed the great successes of cosmonauts and called for peaceful exploration of space, the USSR was focusing much of its space effort on a killer satellite. According to Vladimir Polyachenko, a leading engineer in the IS project, Chelomei led daily meetings on the status of its development. On February 11, 1963, the Kremlin leadership, including Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, appeared in Moscow's suburb of Fili, where Chelmei's engineers labored on the first killer satellite. Polyachenko showed Khrushchev a huge terrestrial globe covered by a web of blinking satellite orbits designed to illustrate how the interceptor would work. Khrushchev liked what he saw.

After the successful first launch in November 1963, clandestine flight tests of Soviet killer satellites continued for most of the 1960s. Exactly 45 years ago, on Nov. 1, 1968, the USSR succeeded with an actual intercept and the destruction of a specially designed target satellite in orbit. However, it would take another five years before the antisatellite system entered experimental service, and another whole decade before it was fully operational. By 1978, a converted R-36 ICBM topped with the IS interceptor reportedly could be rolled out to the launchpad from its bunker in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, propped into vertical position, loaded with propellants, and blasted off toward its target in just an hour and a half.

But on August 18, 1983, the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov suddenly declared an end to the tests, apparently as a gesture of goodwill in the midst of the escalating Cold War. Yet behind the scenes, engineers continued working on further improvements to the operational killer satellites, as well as on much bigger and frightening projects—frightening plans to employ orbital battle stations and even laser weapons.

The upgraded antisatellite system, code-named IS-MU, was capable of chasing enemy satellites even if they tried avoidance maneuvers. It was declared operational in 1991. Just two years later, though, as the Cold War wound down, the cash-strapped government led by the Russian president Boris Yeltsin pulled the plug on the system. Around the same time, the first photo showing the IS satellite was finally published, taking the official veil of secrecy off the project.

New Generation of Russian Killer-Satellites

After more than a decade-long hiatus, the Russian antisatellite program showed signs of life again in the 2000s , as the United States and China vividly, even if unofficially, had demonstrated their capability to attack and destroy satellites in space. No longer toying with the ideas of expensive and vulnerable battle stations in orbit, the Russian military banked on converted ballistic missiles placed in well-protected silos and equipped with maneuverable satellites capable of sending missiles on a collision course with enemy satellites at a minute's notice.

In March 2009, then deputy minister of defense Vladimir Popovkin told journalists that Russia had "retained basic assets" in Naryad-VN and Naryad-VR (or Sentry) systems. "We can't sit and watch others do it. I can only say similar works are done in Russia too," Popovkin said. Popovkin did not elaborate as to what Naryad-V was all about. However, a number of Russian sources recently shed some light on its design.

The Naryad-V, which apparently also has the military designation 14F11, consists of an orbital space tug, whose civilian version is known today as Briz-K (Breeze). Its engine can fire up to 75 times during one mission. This highly maneuverable rocket stage serves as a launch platform for multiple missiles developed at a highly classified KB Tochmash design bureau. Each missile initially receives guidance from its orbital launch platform and homes in on its target with the help of powerful thrusters facing in four different directions. The missile's warhead, developed at KB Geofizika in Moscow, eventually locks onto its target, and the missile's own minicomputer takes over the flight control.

The Naryad-V spacecraft is launched by a lightweight Rockot booster, which is converted from the UR-100NU ballistic missile, once the most numerous ICBM in the Soviet nuclear force. As a space launcher, Rockot can place under 2 tons of cargo into orbit.

In the waning days of the USSR, Rockot flew two suborbital test missions with prototypes of the Naryad-V spacecraft. In 1994, the third test vehicle actually made it into orbit, before the missile's firing crew in Baikonur was finally disbanded in the wake of the Soviet collapse.

The Rockot did survive the economic turmoil of the 1990s, in part thanks to a joint European–Russian commercial venture aimed to haul lightweight foreign satellites into orbit from the Russian military launch site in Plesetsk. In 2002, when President Vladimir Putin visited Khrunichev space center in Moscow, which built both Naryad-V and Rockot, the company's leaders reportedly assured him that the antisatellite system had been ready for a revival.

In January 2010, the commander of the Russian space forces, Oleg Ostapenko, told the official ITAR-TASS news agency that Russia would be able to respond to threats from space. "The USSR was developing inspection and strike spacecraft," Ostapenko said. "Our policy—there should be no war in space, but we are military people and should be ready for everything. Our activities in this direction would be dependent on others, but, trust me, we would be able to respond quickly and adequately."

After half a century of roller-coaster rides for one of the most controversial developments in space, the world still faces a considerable probability of satellites blowing each other up in space. Not coincidentally, far below the Earth orbit, in the atmosphere, remotely controlled flying robots capable of shooting missiles at targets on the ground had already become a reality.

Anatoly Zak is the editor of RussianSpaceWeb.com and the author of Russia in Space: The Past Explained, The Future Explored.
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2013, 19:09:17 »
Russia's economy is in far worse shape than perhaps anyone realized. This should put the brakes on further adventurism in the Middle East and other places, while new developments in offshore gas exploration, fracking and oil shale put pressure on Russia's main source of revenues. In the much longer term, Russia will be forced to retreat back to the European Russian "heartland", with its Easternmost boundary at the Urals and most of her attention focused on the "Near Beyond" as a huge non Russian demographic wave threatens from the South and the East becomes too expensive in terms of manpower and resources to maintain a hold on. This is a prediction for the 2100's:

http://pjmedia.com/blog/putinomics-has-the-russian-economy-in-a-tailspin/?print=1

Quote
‘Putinomics’ Has the Russian Economy in a Tailspin
Posted By Kim Zigfeld On November 20, 2013 @ 12:28 am In economy,Europe,Money,Politics,Russia,World News | 13 Comments

The bad economic news has rolled over Russia this month in a manner as devastating in a financial sense as the tsunami that struck the Philippines was in the physical. No matter where you turned, if you were a Russian there was only a gigantic wave of red ink rushing at you full speed.

In a move some called unprecedented [1] in Russian history, Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev openly admitted that over the next fifteen years the Kremlin expects Russian economic growth to be over 25% less than the world average, with the result that by 2030 Russia’s share of the world economy will have declined by at least a stunning 15%, from 4% today  to just 3.4% fifteen years from now.

The stunned editors of the leading Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta stated in an editorial: “Neither the tzars, nor the Bolsheviks, nor the statists ever once told the population that their country did not have greater prospects.” It was jarring indeed to realize that things might be so bad that not even the Kremlin would take the chance of lying about them.

In other words, the days of Vladimir Putin strutting about the world stage boasting of his economic achievements have come to an abrupt and ignominious end.

Then came the Economist magazine, with a hard-hitting feature item on the collapse of Putinomics provocatively titled “The Crumbling Kremlin [2].”  The piece almost seemed to be mocking Putin, the former KGB spy, taunting [3] him with the dreaded word “stagnation” that wrought so much despair in Soviet times.

The magazine’s data show that the Russian economy never recovered from the 2009 global economic meltdown. Its post-crisis growth level is consistently a pale shadow of what it knew before.  The magazine shows that Russia experienced nearly $50 billion in capital flight in just the first three quarters of this year alone, and posits that Russia is facing a collapse of a state pension system which it can no longer afford to fund.

And worst of all it notes: “The oil price at which Russia can finance budgeted spending without borrowing has increased from just $34 a barrel in 2007 to above $100 for the years ahead.”

Putin’s country stands totally at the mercy, in other words, of a world oil price over which it has no control.  Ironically, Putin’s main foreign policy objective seems to be undermining the economies of the West, a policy which if successful would only lead to reduced demand for oil with brutal consequences for Russia.

Already beleaguered by illness of every kind imaginable, including a horrific AIDS crisis, Putin’s Russia is not prepared to sustain the type of draconian cuts to pensions and social services that are clearly now in the offing.  A major demographic debacle is inevitable.

Finally, the boot was put in by the financial consulting firm Z/Yen, which annually prepares a listing of world cities [4] ranked by their financial clout.  In 2011 Z/Yen put Moscow at #61 on its list of about 80 major metropolises. Pretty feeble stuff.  But for wretched Moscow, now it’s the good old days.  The 2013 study places Moscow #69, after falling to #64 in 2012.  Despite Putin’s bold pronouncements that Moscow would soon become a leading financial center, backed up by massive skyscraper construction projects, the capital city is going backwards not forwards.  One Western banker working there told the New York Times [5]: “Moscow was never going to be an international financial center. That was a joke.”

The tone in all this adverse reporting is crystal clear:  The neo-Soviet arrogance and even petulance which Putin has adopted towards the outside world was not just unjustified, it was fraudulent.  Putin benefited from the accidental spiking of the price of oil and a temporary uptick in childbirth, neither of which had anything at all to do with his policies. Now, the neo-Soviet chickens have come home to roost. The world now sees Putin’s Russia for what it truly is, like the infamous emperor without his “new clothes [6],” and the world is jeering.

A good case study for understanding the sorry plight of the Putin economy is tourism.  Putin’s English-language propaganda screed Russia Beyond the Headlines recently touted [7] a UN report showing that Russia was in ninth place worldwide for visitation by tourists. But as is so typical for RBTH, one of the worst sources of information about Russia that there is, the real story, extremely negative for Russia, was left out of its pages.

Russia does not rank anywhere remotely close to the top 10 when it comes to receipt of tourist dollars.  It had a paltry $12 billion [8] in tourist receipts compared a whopping $30 billion by Australia, which rounds out the top 10 list (the USA tops the list with $125 billion in tourist receipts, ten times more than Russia has and five times more per capita).

The reason for this is simple:  The “tourists” who visit Russia have little or no money, mostly coming from the impoverished nations of the former USSR.  When it comes to competing for the attention of sophisticated tourists who do have money and the PR clout that goes with it, clout that might influence international attitudes towards Russia, Russia doesn’t compete, it simply fails.

This is confirmed by the World Economic Forum [8], whose most recent data show that Russia ranks an anemic #63 in tourism competitiveness.  Sophisticated tourists are going to tend to shy away from the horrific issues that plague Russian society, from rudeness to corruption to illness and safety risks. And without genius-level marketing, they’re not going to find Russia’s relatively modest attractions very beguiling.

But Putin’s response to all this will be the RBTH response:  deception and diversion.  He will not seek reform, but he will put a great deal of energy, just as in Soviet times, into creating the illusion of success and liquidating anyone within Russia who tries to tell a different story.

Article printed from PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/putinomics-has-the-russian-economy-in-a-tailspin/

URLs in this post:

[1] unprecedented: http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/11/window-on-eurasia-will-russians-react.html
[2] The Crumbling Kremlin: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/11/russias-economy
[3] taunting: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21589455-will-stagnating-economy-bring-about-much-needed-structural-reform-s-word
[4] listing of world cities: http://dyingrussia.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/moscow-in-financial-free-fall-under-putin/
[5] New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/business/global/moscow-tries-to-remake-itself-as-financial-center.html?_r=1&
[6] new clothes: http://en.ria.ru/photolents/20131113/184683984_6/Putin-Earns-Honorary-Grandmaster-Title-in-Taekwondo.html
[7] touted: http://rbth.ru/international/2013/11/07/russia_enters_list_of_top_10_travel_destinations_31503.html
[8] $12 billion: http://dtxtq4w60xqpw.cloudfront.net/sites/all/files/pdf/unwto_highlights13_en_lr_0.pdf
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 Thucydides

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2013, 18:32:54 »
The Ukraine sits at the intersection between Russia and Europe. It looks like they are trying to play both sides against the middle, but for now, it is still a small nation caught between a large federation on one side and a jealous, much larger nation on the other. (The Ukraine may be natrually divided between a Catholic "European" Ukraine west of the Dnieper, and an Orthodox, Slavic Ukraine east of the Dnieper, which makes the position of the country even more difficult):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-25128329

Yanukovych's Ukrainian calculus: Power at all costs
Nataliya Jensen
 
BBC Ukranian Service
 
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in Kiev to protest Ukraine's decision to back away from an EU agreement
On the eve of the European Union (EU) summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 28-29 November, Europeans said the door is still open for Ukraine to sign a historic agreement with the EU.

Kiev, meanwhile, is putting the signing on hold and asking for financial compensation from the EU for trade losses due to economic pressure from Russia.

In August, three months before a scheduled deal-signing with the EU, Russia stopped all Ukrainian imports. Seventy-five percent of Ukraine's machine-building production is exported to Russia. Experts say the losses from Moscow's actions could cost up to $2.5bn (£1.53bn) for just the second half of 2013.

"As soon as we reach a level that is comfortable for us, when it meets our interests, when we agree on normal terms, then we will talk about signing," President Viktor Yanukovych told Ukraine's TV channels on Tuesday. He said that he is still planning to go to the summit to explain Ukraine's position.

In Mr Yanukovych's mind, at least, he may not have closed the door on joining the EU. Many observers were surprised by the news that he told Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in a telephone conversation last week that Russian economic pressure and blackmail is the reason that Kiev cannot sign the agreement.

Every Ukrainian president since the fall of the Soviet Union has found himself on a complicated geopolitical chessboard between East and West. Each has had to decide how to balance and where to lead the second-largest country in Europe - toward Brussels, which is likely to be the best guarantor of Ukraine's long-term economic prosperity and political development, or toward Moscow, to which Ukraine has cultural and historical ties.

While Ukraine's Baltic and Central European neighbours fully realised their ambition to be in the EU, Belarus sought close ties with Russia. Ukraine, by contrast, has still not made its choice. It remains a country on hold.

Its refusal to sign the agreement (combined with departure of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia) likely means the end of the dream of many Western policymakers of a Europe whole and free. It also probably will encourage the Kremlin more assertively to reintegrate the former Soviet space under Russian authoritarian rule, as many in Kremlin believe Europe is in decline and US power around the world is in retreat.

Yanukovych is less afraid of Brussels than of Moscow, one commentator has said "The US always believed that democratic freedoms are universal values and events that happen in Europe influence us," said Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to Nato and now executive director of the McCain Institute of International Leadership in Washington DC. "Ukraine is a part of Europe, and it's important not to allow those who want to separate Ukraine from it to do this."

Ariel Cohen from the Heritage Foundation writes: "It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent Ukraine from becoming a Russian satellite and a key member of a Moscow-dominated sphere of influence. Ukraine is more democratically oriented than Russia. Historically, it has closer ties with Europe; and geopolitically, it can provide a necessary check on Russia's imperial ambitions."

There are several conclusions we can draw from the current status of the EU-Ukraine negotiations:

-Ukrainian leadership may not yet be ready either to democratise the country or integrate Ukraine into European economic and security institutions. However, the Ukrainian population - even in the Russian-speaking east of the country - is increasingly supportive of Ukraine joining the EU.

-Mr Yanukovych, who is supported by less than half the population, wants to ensure he stays in power. Many Ukrainian experts believe that he tried to play off Russia and the EU in order to maximise his chances of re-election in 2015. To achieve this he needs either a successful agreement with the EU, which would broaden his political base, or Russian President Vladimir Putin's help in consolidating his authoritarian rule.

-While Ukraine has for now picked the short-term benefits of improving trade ties with Russia over the long-term benefits of association with Brussels, it still refuses to join Mr Putin's Customs Union, which could lead to further integration with Moscow.

Serhiy Rahmanin of the Ukrainian newspaper Mirror Weekly writes: "Yanukovych is less scared of Brussels than [of] Moscow." Mr Putin wants to build a new USSR, he contends, which would cost Mr Yanukovych real power.

For now Mr Yanukovych will attend the Vilnius gathering this week, where he hopes to discuss possible "three-way consultations" among Ukraine, the EU and Russia, and conduct talks that would be "in the best interests of Ukraine".

Whether EU representatives are prepared to listen after months of frustrating negotiations is another matter.
[/quote]
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 S.M.A.

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2013, 19:06:58 »
How Putin benefits from Ukraine's backing away from the EU...

Reuters

Quote
Ukraine holds key to Putin's dream of a new union
Reuters
By Timothy Heritage


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukraine's refusal to sign a trade pact drawing it into Europe's orbit marked a victory for Vladimir Putin, winning him time to lure Kiev into a project for a trade and political bloc stretching from the frontiers of China to the edge of the EU.

The Russian president sees his "Eurasian Union", in which Ukraine would play a central role, as a future rival to China, the United States and the European Union. Some say he sees it as the president's personal political legacy - a strong force emerging from the ashes of the old Soviet Union.

"The Eurasian Union is a very important project for Putin. Without Ukraine, he will lose all enthusiasm for it," said Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin spin doctor who has also worked in Ukraine. "Without Ukraine, Putin's project is impossible."


Putin also hopes to woo several other former Soviet republics that were being courted by EU leaders at a summit in Lithuania on Friday. But none is more important to Putin than Ukraine, a huge market and the cradle of Russian civilization.

(...)


Our Country
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"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."   - Lao Zi (老子)
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Russia in the 21st Century
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2013, 13:45:39 »
In surprising news, a European country with a long history of being a regional power and occasional global power wishes to continue doing so.  Film at 11.
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