Wednesday 17 December 2014

Beware the wounded Bear?

I have little time for the likes of Russia Today that seek to perpetually push a meme about how the West abandoned Russia in the 1990's and then sought in more recent years to re-ignite the Cold War. It is full of bathos about the role of Russia in the world and its assumed status as a global superpower.

in 2014, we can now see the true strength of Russia, high military spending and a resource based economy that was a major player in the world. Rather like Brazil then, with a bit more money spent on the military. However, with the collapse in the oil price driven by the global slowdown and rise of Shale Oil in the US, it is amazing to see that Russia's economy has unravelled as fast as that of known basket cases like Iran and Venezuela.

After all, Russia is full of very clever, bright and tough people - it should be in a better place than it is. Clearly the war in Ukraine has drained resources and the denial of access to Western Banking (so ironic that the bane of the anti-capitalist Left wing in Europe and America now proves to be our most effective means of extended diplomacy) has left Russia very exposed.

Raising interest rates by 7% in a day is not ever going to prove an effective strategy, plus a currency fall of 50% is going to push inflation up hugely on all imported goods, in Russia, this amounts to most products given the dearth of non-oil and non-defence industries.

Putin himself is so entrenched politically that he is unlikely to suffer an adverse consequences such as a coup. Everyone is on board with his project or has already been eliminated. The opposition is very weak and the people, sadly, brainwashed by extreme nationalism and partial media coverage by the likes of Russia Today equivalents.

The thing is, the West maybe feeling clever that it has brought about this denouement (really, its Saudi Arabia to a large extent, they offered a deal to Putin which he turned down). But Russia is not Iran or even Venezuela. The Ukraine apart Russia is not a sponsor of state terror or mass murder. Russia is as concerned about Islamic Extremism as the West is. Russia is at its heart a European country.

Whilst its lack of democracy and history of democracy makes it unlike a Western European state, Russia has no long term interest in facing away from the West. Today, it is likely to re-assess its chances of making its way in the world with the support of perfidious China.

The Politicians in the West would do well to try to accommodate some Russian demands to allow a climb down in the Ukraine and a normalising of relations. A bankrupt Russia, nuclear armed and run by paranoid Oligarchs is not the best outcome for the situation from here.


Jan said...

".....the people sadly brainwashed...." Are you talking about us as well? We must all go on spending like there's no tomorrow ("because you're worth it") on ridiculous things like cosmetic surgery and take on more and more debt. Mad consumerism is a more pernicious evil in my book and what's more "stuff" doesn't make you happier.

Agree about the wounded bear. We should be more grown up about Russia.

hovis said...

Agree with Jan not sure we're all not brainwashed ... is there really that much of a discrenible difference in the UK media from Guardian to Telegraph and inbetween? Similarly the political parties, have little more than shall we say a rounding error betwen them apart frpm pantomine.

Always good to watch Russia Today, Al Jazeerah, Al beeb and the rest to see who's stinking pile of dung has a different aroma. As to realsing the truth - you will still be in Plato's cave though the shaddows might be a little more focussed.

Btw I am getting bored of the false meme that the price drop is to "crush" US shale producers, oh that they think themselves so significant.

DtP said...

It just seems a strange way to attack a country that knows more about hardship and in recent history than this country has since, well, God alone knows when. These guys aren't gonna fold, losing to them is a state of being, their entire culture is based on the cruelty of life, their territory a manifestation of the true expanse of nothing - how can you lose nothing?

And quite agree with Jan & Hovis - Russia's debt is nowt compared to ours and yet long term, they own the Arctic and I bet there's loads of reserves no-one has yet been told of. Russia works in geological time - none of this 4 or 5 year electoral cycle nonsense with puerile citizens demanding ever more freebies on the never never.

Jer said...

I recently has a long conversation with a very well informed Russian. Many are English speaking, and read English language news.

They then have the same choices about whom to believe as we do :)

By the way, coming soon to a trouble spot near you, modern American weapons in the hands of Islamic loonies, via Chechens currently fighting in Ukraine.

Nick Drew said...

you can drop the '?' - yes, beware the bear and stop baiting it!

PS the Russians will really hate the Cuba rapprochement

dearieme said...

"beware the bear and stop baiting it!"

Quite: why is American policy so reckless?

Nick Drew said...

the neocons live a lot further away from Moscow than you or I !

Nick Drew said...

footnote: I have often written about how Putin hates being a raw-materials economy & tries to get people to buy his crap trucks instead ... how right he was, pity about the trucks

Suffragent said...

Jan and Hovis would have said “hit the nail on the head” but this might not be understood by the people who have been through the ejucashun system lately. Get em while they’re young. My partner is at university and her friends often ask me to proof read their assignments. Forget the subject, there isn’t one that passes my eyes that doesn’t have a reference to inequality of some type. The ignorance is stupefying and this from mature students.
Should wood work or metal work be banned in schools? Yes. They are a hobby carried out by sad old white men and don’t forget the ships that carried the slaves were made from wood and metal. Not to mention the health and safety issue. What part do these relics have in the real world of singing, modelling and shagging footballers.
And don’t get me started on what passes for program scheduling. The only place a man is allowed to be a role model is in a cooking program.And what’s with all the crying. Completely useless at anything then burst in to tears and say you are doing for your grandma or the children and your straight through to the next round
Sorry been at the wine again

Suffragent back on topic and black coffee said...

Sorry again for the rant. DtP has it right and I wouldn’t underestimate the Russians. The western banks only have power while the world has confidence in their paper promises. The Russians aint that happy about the western banks (and their muppets in the EU) after Cyprus.
I’m sure Putin would turn a blind eye if his friends were to repatriate their wealth. London housing boom- gone.
( I’m sure someone will correct me as this site has a far better grasp on history than me). Twice the Russians retreated leaving a frozen wasteland for the superior forces of the invaders (history always tells the story of the invaders but never the hardship of the Russians). This time could be different. Instead of having to destroy 30 % of their homeland they could just work it the other way. Wait for a cold winter and switch off the gas to Europe and create a wasteland the other side of the border. Where would Europe be without gas? The German industrial Powerhouse (that is keeping everybody else afloat) ain’t gonna do much smelting on wind power. When the magic money tree disappears from the EU watch the rats grasp at anything.
Midwinter in Russia
Ivan “ Anatoly why do you keep turning down the gas heating? Even though we send most of our gas to China it’s still real cheap”.
Anatoly “cos its cheaper burning bundles of these Euros”

Anonymous said...

No sympathy for them.

Putin has done nothing about corruption, Russia is still a borderline kleptocracy when investment is risky, both from having to work around the corruption and that you may find yourself desired by a Putin ally and so lose out.

Equally, they're obsessed with hard power - Crimea could've been annexed in other ways with both Ukraine and the rest of the world agreeing to it. But no, even on the global stage he feels the need to go bare-chested and fists up.

The wealthy Russians are also heavily invested in Europe and have no desire to head back to Mother Russia - it's why they school their kids in Paris and London, not Moscow - and why Putin has to be careful, after all he has people to answer to who quite like their money, and if his dick-waving threatens that he'll be replaced.

Russia is in a bind, and Putin is unlikely to be the guy to get them out of it.

As for this being the US baiting Russia, nonsense, Obama hasn't the wits, this is mostly about the Saudi's whacking Iran economically with the upside of shutting down competition.

James Higham said...

RT is just what it is - it goes in to bat for Russia. And what? We should go in to bat for us, instead of selling out to the EU.

These are all just set plays. Voice of America is as it says on the tin, ditto with Australia Today.

Steven_L said...

I remember when all the other channels had coverage of live protests in Moscow, RT was showing recorded footage of riots in Athens from a new months back.

Thud said...

This all reads like a fan letter to Moscow, forget the Eu and Obama and concentrate on Putin...a vile and dangerous man.

Nick Drew said...

when I say 'stop baiting Russia' (as I often do) it's not out of love for Putin (or Gazprom!) or romantic attachment to the 'mysterious Russian soul' or belief that 'christian' Russia is part of the great western heritage

(... I've lived there! ...)

it's that the US 'containment-on-the-cheap' strategy of stirring up trouble for Russia on its borders is distinctly short-sighted (see Afghanistan, and now the Chechens [@Jer/6:03 above]), i.e. not in OUR long-term interests

BTW, don't assume Obama is master of US foreign policy, there are rogue neocon elements running private foreign initiatives