Vladimir Putin takes the gloves off


#1

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#2

Putin has a rouble problem, a really huge rouble problem. 81 rouble to a 1 Euro. 75 rouble to a US dollar.
I returned recently from Moscow, the black market money traders are giving 125 rouble to a US dollar. I suspect that will slide further still when winter sets in…


#3

So, is this getting to the point where he has to actually start a huge war or just stop talking? Was the Ukraine a test run and all the little prods and dips that are happening into Europe gauging our strength? Having Russia right next door is getting more and more uncomfortable, even in Scandinavia.


#4

Well, if it comes down to it, Russia will lose the next cold war a lot faster than the last one.
With something like 65% of its exports being in the oil & gas industry and its fondness of using natural gas a stick rather than a carrot - many EU countries are looking for other sources notably Qatar. They are less dependent than they were a few years ago.

Also the latest price drop in crude prices (something like 25% in a couple of months) as well as natural gas are having a major effect on Russia’s economy. The interesting thing is that the prices are still declining despite trouble in the middle east. Supposedly the decline is due to the growth in US shale plays and fracking as well as corresponding decline in Chinese growth. The other point is that the Saudis have not cut back production which might have brought the price back.

I have come across other theories, such as a scret deal between the Saudis and the US. The Saudis are to keep up production, to bring prices down - which in turn will hurt Russia, Iran and other high cost oil producers.


#5

Perhaps Putin could refresh the world’s memory as to when exactly that happened.

(Fighting off a foreign invasion on their own territory doesn’t count.)


#6

For a country which talks such an insular game, they seem to worry a lot about others. If they spent what they had on smarter agriculture instead of military and espionage bluster, they could probably keep to themselves and thrive.


#7

Which country are you talking about, again?


#8

Also, GFYS, Vlad! I gave you those gloves for our Easter pic-a-nic and you told me that you would wear them always!


#9

The website that the article comes from seems - well, interesting. The comments on the article from that website are even more so.


#10

Don’t really need a war - in the end it comes down to economics.

The EU has a GDP of 16trillion, followed by the US at 15trillion - Russia is just over 2 trillion (about the same ranking as Italy’s GDP) Other than oil & gas, vodka and caviar, there really isn’t any significant manufacturing exports to speak of. Right now the declining oil & gas prices are hurting their revenues and something over 50% of the state revenues are from the fossil fuel industry. Sure they can cut it off to the EU, but they need that $100 billion worth of gas sales, far more than the EU does (and even though they signed a deal with China, the pipeline will take years to build and the Chinese will never pay anywhere near what the EU did.

Aside from international trade, the west can keep Russia out of international banking, squeeze the Russian oligarchs who all have homes in western Europe and kids going to private schools there. There are a few thousand elites keeping Putin in power and in the end he will not be around forever.


#11

Not just fighting off a foreign invasion, while the Allies did their part, (including supplies to Russia) World War II (in terms of casualties) was primarily a fight between Russia and Germany.


#12

Putin! We’re discussing Fernando Poo, of course.


#13

So you think he’s just desperate to still be seen as the strong man internally and that it won’t lead anywhere? I really hope that’s true, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the damage one desperate man can do if he can accumulate enough power in his own country.


#14

i had been expecting some kind of russian response to changing geopolitical circumstances for some time. for one thing, the russian economy has had major difficulties for some time causing quite a bit of unrest and the historic russian response to internal unrest has been expansion. whether under the czars or the soviets, expansion has been the primary method of keeping things together. for another thing, nato and the eu have been continually encroaching on areas that russia has long held in their sphere of interest if not within its territory proper. after the great unraveling of the early 90s i strongly suspected that somewhere along the line russia would get a leader who would feel the need to start pushing back. enter vladimir putin. although often portrayed as a dictatorial state, the post-stalin ussr was a consensus driven totalitarian state. putin has a number of advisers and ministers who almost certainly play an important role in the shaping of relevant policy. given the tone and content of public statements and articles written by valentina matviyenko (governor of st. petersburg and current chair of the federation council), sergey shoygu (minister of defense), sergey lavrov (foreign minister), and yevgeney primakov (former foreign minister) over the course of 2013 it seemed likely that some movement west was coming. i think it is clear that putin is the prime mover but each of those individuals is too strongly placed for him to ignore their interests.

russia’s moves to reclaim the crimean peninsula were in keeping with those of a cagey practitioner of balance of power geopolitics. the crimea has been under the control of russia for most of the last 4 or 5 centuries. i think the vote taken there accurately reflected the feelings of most of the population there. however, the attempt to coerce ukraine into rejoining the russian federation either in whole or in part was much less useful in terms of geopolitical strategy. that region had only been subservient to moscow for a brief period, a subservience that was greatly resented by the population of the area. only stalin’s policy of moving ethnic russians into the various “republics” can account for the pro-russian tilt of some of the eastern regions of ukraine. in short, putin’s move into the crimea was intelligent strategy, the move on ukraine, not so much. the withdrawl of some of the russian forces from the ukrainian border probably represents an attempt for some breathing room while they reconsider their overall policy. from the sound of that speech it seems likely that putin will continue to use whatever russian economic and military threats are available to continue to probe for weaknesses in the european system. i doubt that any of it will be pretty.


#15

The publisher (I believe) of Foreign Policy was on Diane Rehm a few days back, and he was saying this was evidence of how little the Middle East matters anymore. Which is both interesting and not a little scary.

And David Green from NPR was on Rehm’s show maybe a few weeks ago (okay, so I like that show) and he was mentioning that much of Putin’s bluster is intended for the internal audience, and that they seem to appreciate the chest-baring and flag waving. That nationalism has to go somewhere, though. And I wonder how many Russians have forgotten about their little expansions here and there back in the 80s.


#16

Russia favors a conservative approach to introducing innovations into the social order, but is not opposed to investigating and discussing such innovations, to see if introducing any of them might be justified.

Democracy is so overrated.


#17

Yea, he had me right up to that point.


#18

Hint: Diane Rehm is actually an elaborate cover for Krang, evil brain from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Her” voice is a dead giveaway.


#19

:smiley: Lately, it’s been her and Ashbrook’s On Point–can’t get enough of either show.


#20

It sounds to me that they don’t regularly translate him to a “western” audience because HE MAKES TOO MUCH FUCKING SENSE.
Imagine Obama or Cameron trying to extemporaneously articulate a set of cohesive policy statements at this length! They couldn’t go two minutes without dragging out tropes and truisms - “defending democracy around the world” bullshit, by the countries that ensured 500,000 dead Iraqi children in the 90’s.

Nothing Russia has done in half-a-hundred years has been fractionally as horrible. Or as callously dismissed.

Why is there ISIS? Because baby, Like Malcolm X said “It’s a case of the chickens coming home to roost.”