05 February 2009

More Problems for Russia

After Putin's triumphal march on Davos, the Russian military's triumph over Georgia, energy triumph over Europe, and the recent expansion of Russia's air and sea power to larger parts of the globe, one might believe that Russia is entering a new phase of world dominance. Not so fast . . . .
The latest U.N. Development Program report on Russia's demographics, based on the birthrates of the last decade, suggests the country's numbers of young males of military age are set to halve after 2020. Russia's current economic woes, its unemployment doubling in six months and its exchange rate tumbling against the euro and the dollar reinforce the impression that the Kremlin's current ambitions are way beyond its capabilities.

...One key symbol of the financial crisis is the dizzying rise in interest rates. Since October 2008 the interest on a three-month ruble loan has more than tripled, from 9.1 percent to 28.3 percent. Another key statistic for the Russian economy is energy production, and in January oil output fell to 9.7 million barrels a day, a 1 percent decline on the year. Less oil, fetching a far lower price on world markets, is an ominous trend. At the same time, gas output fell by more than 10 percent in January because of the price row with Ukraine.... _Walker'sWorld
To Vladimir Putin, all of these problems are seen as mere distractions from his ambitious goals to extend Russian power to the antipodes and beyond. Putin wants to accomplish the ambitions of Stalin -- Russian hegemony over the globe.

Putin appears not to be aware of Russia's excessive dependence on energy exports. The huge problem of a shrinking indigenous Russian Slav population does not seem to have registered on the former KGB clerk. The rapid and massive expansion of muslim populations inside Russia and the Russian military itself must be outside of Vlad's consciousness. The powerful rise of China, and China's ravenous need for land and resources (such as the Russian far east) must not have occurred to the Prime Minister. Taking Putin's statements and actions literally, one would have to suppose that Vlad sees the world through magical eyes.

This is a pivot point for much of the world. Some of the world's leaders are taking semi-appropriate action to meet the challenges. Most are not. The aftermath may be most wretched.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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