16 January 2008

Putin's Russia Becoming Unpopular with Neighbors

Vladimir Putin was Time's Man of the Year. The rest of the world seems to be souring on Putin, however.
Much has been said and written by his foes about how the foreign policy of U.S. President George W. Bush has alienated what should be a host of American allies in Europe. Recent elections in Britain, Germany and France, however, have produced national leaders who have been outspoken in expressing their American sympathies, and a recent survey shows that the world overwhelmingly still wants America to play a key role in world affairs.

What has not been noticed in all the fury of anti-Bushism is the extent to which Russia’s ruler, Vladimir Putin, has actually done what Bush is merely accused of doing — namely alienate the whole of Europe against him....European hostility to Putin is not merely rhetorical. In fact, public statements by European leaders are often conciliatory, such as when French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned Putin to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the recent parliamentary elections. But actions speak louder than words: Putin’s government is currently the target of a multiplicity of very serious legal actions in major European courts which could result in undermining his ability to govern.

Russia simply can’t afford to repudiate the legal basis for its dealings with Europe in the energy field, dealing that provide the basic working capital for the Kremlin’s continued existence....So it’s entirely possible that within the next year or two the European courts will completely unravel the tidy little package into which the Kremlin had stuffed its chief political foe, calling the legitimacy of the Putin regime itself into serious question and giving Russia the international image of a banana republic. That’s to say nothing of having to shell out $100 billion in damages....encircled by aggressive legal actions, Russia begins to seem more and more like an isolated paper bear, rather than the resurgent world player described by Time. The ECHR has already found Russia guilty of state-sponsored murder in Chechnya, and in April of last year Georgia filed suit there alleging mass persecution of Georgians in Russia after Georgia claimed to have discovered a Russian-sponsored coup plot against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and arrested four Russian military officers.

Major newspaper reports in Germany and the United States have pointed out the “Potemkin Village” nature of Russia’s military and economic leverage, exposing a fundamentally weak society that is scarcely capable of stark intimidation on the international scene, so Britain apparently felt secure in calling Russia’s bluff. These measures may be getting under Putin’s skin; he openly expressed consternation over the extent to which Western governments were willing to support the opposition parties in the recent parliamentary elections.

The Russian population is shrinking, despite the best efforts of Putin and his "Putin Youth" nationalist groups to encourage Russians to have more children. Military and civil infrastructures are losing vital, skilled personnel to premature death, retirement, and emigration. Domestic clampdowns on individual and group freedoms are turning Russia into a rigid and brittle "petro-state." An economic "one-trick-pony" that depends upon the high price of fossil fuels for most of its international clout.

Problem: the infrastructure of the Russian oil industry is wearing out quickly. Only international companies have the expertise to achieve sustainable growth of yields in Russia's oil and gas fields. But Russia is nationalising assets of international companies--causing increasing reluctance to get involved in Russia.

It is not "peak oil" that is hurting production in the Persian Gulf, Russia, Venezuela, Africa, etc. It is the abysmal misuse and disuse of technology by nationalised oil industries. Let the international companies back in, and watch how quickly production ramps up.

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Blogger neil craig said...

Not really surrounded by enemies - China & India are members of the Shanghai Pact with them & they seem to be getting on fairly well even with Iran. The problem is with the NATO countries. Last year Putin publicly disagreed with a statement that NATO like the UN, was a group which had an automatic legal right to attack other countries. If you can think of a leader of any serious non-NATO state which would accept such a right I would be surprised.

Thursday, 17 January, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Russia and China are bound to go to war over parts of Siberia that have always been in dispute--just as Japan still disputes possession of Sakhalin. India is not a neighbor of Russia.

Iran is the only nation truly "friends" with Russia, and that friendship is one of convenience--until Iran achieves control of a medium sized nuclear arsenal.

Russia is surrounded by muslim central Asian states that would like to have the wealth that Putin and his cronies have appropriated to themselves from the Russian people. It will become interesting.

Thursday, 17 January, 2008  

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