Russia in 2014: Recapitulating 1914?

In 1914, the world was dominated by great and belligerent empires, including the British Empire, the Tsarist Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the powerful Prussian dynasty. The situation was unstable, so that triggering World War I was almost comically easy. At the end of World War I, of the five above, only the British Empire was left. And it was already on the way down.

Russia is displaying some of the same attitude that led to World War I. That conflict triggered a series of wars and revolutions that killed over 120 million people and everyone thought it had finally ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in Russia nostalgia for empire and leaders who believe they can bully and deceive their way to victory has led to policies that threatened to drag the country into an economic catastrophe.

… European nations are again facing Russian leaders who seem out of touch with reality. The Russian leadership is unwilling to halt its effort to annex part of eastern Ukraine via an ancient Russian technique of staging a rebellion and then trying to “help” by seizing the area in distress. Communists and Czars used this technique, as did many others. But Russia is no longer the scary Soviet empire but rather the wretched wreckage of that catastrophic colossus.

… Russian leaders are gambling, much like their czarist predecessors did in 1914, that things will somehow work out in their favor. Misplaced confidence and miscalculation is an ancient problem and not just in Russia. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does constantly paraphrase itself. At this point in time Russia does not need a paraphrase of its World War I experience. _StrategyPage

Russia is still experiencing toxic fallout from the Soviet disaster. The country is losing its ethnic Russian population — especially inside resource-rich Siberia. Its best and brightest are in a hurry to move abroad.

… according to United Nations estimates, Russia’s population is set to decline by up to 40 percent between now and 2050. But the effects on its economy could be devastating as it is the brightest and most creative – those with the greatest potential to generate wealth and economic growth – who appear most willing to leave. __Kremlin Stokes Brain Drain

Death rates are sky-high, and birth rates remain quite low. And Russia lacks the basic culture of trust and trade that would allow its economy to escape the chains of the resource curse.

And yet Russia’s leadership appears to be rushing into conflict, blind to the crumbling infrastructures beneath its feet.

President Vladimir Putin took aim at Ukraine, fearing the country was about to drop into Europe’s pocket. Suddenly, he was silent about obeying international law. His government then illegally annexed Crimea and is fighting an increasingly brutal guerrilla war in eastern Ukraine, through proxies and, it now appears, direct engagement of Russian forces.

In this context, the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is terrifying not only for its brutality, but also in its intimation of a world gone mad.

… The First World War ended four imperial regimes: the Prussian (Hohenzollern) dynasty, the Russian (Romanov) dynasty, the Turkish (Ottoman) dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) dynasty. The war not only caused millions of deaths; it also left a legacy of revolution, state bankruptcy, protectionism and financial collapse that set the stage for Adolf Hitler’s rise, the Second World War and the Cold War. _ 2014 Looks Like 1914

Why is Russia unable to build a prosperous economy without a corrupt and top-heavy dependency upon resource belligerence?

China has been getting away with something [Russia] never accomplished; stealing Western technology, then using it to move ahead of the West. [Russia lacks] the many essential supporting industries found in the West (largely founded and run by entrepreneurs) and was never able to acquire all the many pieces needed to match Western technical accomplishments. [Russian]copies of American computers, for example, were crude, less reliable, and less powerful. It was the same situation with their jet fighters, tanks, and warships. __StrategyPage

Note: In the quote above, [Russia] is substituted for “the Soviet Union” to illustrate how little things have changed in Russia since the Soviet era.

Russian oil exports expected to decline. The main reason for this is the incredible waste and incompetence within the government-owned oil sector. Crucial upgrades to the Russian oil infrastructure are badly needed, but for those to happen, foreign capital and expertise must be attracted into the country. Putin’s bombastic words and actions are making Russia a very risky place for foreigners to do business.

Russia more vulnerable to foreign sanctions than Putin will admit, according to the Russian Economy Minister.

The deeper Putin dives into his grand neo-imperialist adventures, the worse Russia’s brain drain is likely to become. And it is already intolerably bad, over the long run.

The beginning of a long slide? Russian luxury sales falling, not expected to recover before 2017 at earliest

Meanwhile, Central Asians are forgetting how to speak Russian and learning how to speak English etc.

The Russian military is already dependent upon foreign suppliers for the necessary electronic components in its new generations of missiles, planes, ships, etc. The Russian economy lacks the competitive entrepreneurial underpinnings to supply reliable, high-quality modern parts and components. In other words, even the best of the Russian military is a Potemkin village, without a reliable supply chain.

At the same time, the numbers of healthy young men of ethnic Russian origins is steadily shrinking. Russia is increasingly being forced to rely upon Muslims of questionable loyalty for its ground combat strike forces — both Muslim militias and Muslim inductees. Coincidentally, Russia’s cities, birthing wards, and grammar schools are seeing a higher and higher proportion of alien newcomers.

Young Russian women of child-bearing years continue searching abroad for jobs and marriage partners — often ending up as strippers, escorts, and “massage” therapists, if not outright sex slaves, in their new countries. The lucky ones find something overseas that is rare in Russia — devoted husbands who wish to raise families in safe and affluent regions (of Europe and the Anglosphere).

Young Russian men of high aptitude and ambition look abroad for career opportunities. Children of the often-corrupt and criminal Russian upper class are sent abroad for education, just as billions in Russian capital is regularly secreted away in overseas banks.

The last two months has seen a raft of laws proposed which would severely restrict freedoms of assembly and expression, including a ban on the dissemination of any negative information about the government and Russia’s military as well as the introduction of lengthy jail sentences for minor offences related to unauthorised protests.

The Kremlin has also recently moved to have the websites of independent news outlets and political opposition groups blocked and bring the internet under its control with a set of draconian laws on web use. These came just days after the head of Russia‘s biggest social network, Pavel Durov, left the country after a clash with the state security services over handing over internet users’ data. __ Why Russia’s Best May Jump Ship

Russia is a public health disaster and a human capital disaster, with crumbling infrastructures almost everywhere one chooses to look. It is this rapid decay — a continuing fallout from Soviet years — which makes Putin’s counter-productive straining to create a new Russian Empire so tragic. Putin only makes everything worse, and not just in the long run.

If Putin’s 2014 is prelude to the same kind of fallout as was seen in the imperial world of 1914, you had best beware. All hell could easily break loose before your alarm clock rings tomorrow morning.

Of course, things are somewhat different now. The US is the clear global hegemon, as illustrated by an image of the world’s aircraft carriers:

World's Aircraft Carriers

World’s Aircraft Carriers

It is true that the US has the weakest leadership since the days of President Carter. And the daily display of weakness-at-the-top by the current US government serves as encouragement to neo-imperialists abroad, no matter what relative advantage the US may have in military forces.

… anti-Western paranoia has been a Russian theme since the late 1990s and state controlled media (and hired Internet trolls) hammer away in support of it round the clock. Russia is now calling for more money to be spent on expanding the military, to counter the growing NATO threat. The Russian leadership portrays any real or imagined American moves as part of a plot to destroy Russia. All this still resonates in Russia, especially among older Russians. But the old, Soviet era, generation is dying out, and younger Russians consider this “NATO is the enemy” line as absurd. Russia has many real problems, like drugs, corruption and economic stagnation. Potential invasion by NATO is not a real problem, but the political leadership believes that talk of the “NATO threat” works with Russian voters. It does, but less and less. __ 2014 paraphrase of 1914?

There are many westerners who seem to place a deep hope in Putin’s Russia, despite the realities on the ground. Unfortunately, there are no good guys on the international stage — especially not Putin. Even so, gullible chumps ranging all the way from the far left to the far right continue placing their trust in Potemkin Poot.

This phenomenon is particularly ominous in Europe, where European leadership continues turning away from domestic energy development in favour of a deepening reliance on Russian energy imports.

We know that Europeans have developed a dependency culture since World War II, dependent upon the US for Europe’s defense (esp. from Russia) and increasingly dependent upon Russia for its energy, China for consumer goods, and Africa/Islam for its labour force. Dysfunctional? Precarious? Only if one looks too closely.

Interesting times tend to be unstable times, prone to chaotic change.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It’s not yet time to hunker down, but you had best make provisions just in case.

More: Russians Living on Oil & Gas Exports

Europe’s Stupidity Pushes it Into Putin’s Iron Grip

Update: Life on the eve of war

How likely is another world war?

This entry was posted in Demographics, Metaphor, Russia, Russian Oil Curse. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Russia in 2014: Recapitulating 1914?

  1. Hello al fin, intermittent reader here. I’m going to respond to a few of the positions here, because they fail to take account of the practicality of the geopolitics in the area, with which I am more familiar.

    First and foremost that piece from Strategy Page is really divorced from reality. We should remember that Putin has lead Russia to economic prosperity, against the odds. He reigned in the Russian oligarchs, restored state power, and re-established law and order over a disintegrating state. We must remind ourselves that Boris Yeltsin was nothing more than a disaster for the Russian state at virtually every level, and they are only now recovering under Putin. And the man is sharp, he knows the situation on the ground, and his policies are by all accounts quite sound. The Russians have always been weak on perception management though, and this is why the American perspective of ‘Putin as crazy’ holds sway, even though it is contrary to the evidence in almost every way.

    Take this whole Ukraine fiasco. After the West instigated the coup (and left quite the trail of evidence regarding their involvement) they pretty much handed the Russians any causus belli they needed. Now this whole situation probably wouldn’t have escalated if fascists hadn’t been given prominent positions for their services in the Maidan, and the Russian language outlawed. There really was no need to ‘stage’ a rebellion. Crimea is 90% Russian, and the eastern territories are mostly Russian as well. And these are Russians who hate fascists. It was a very natural development for them to rebel against Kiev and join Russia, a state which both areas were apart of previous to 1950 anyways.

    Of course, that’s beside the point. The weakness of Strategy Page doesn’t matter, though I’ll point out the obvious falsehoods where relevant. I for one agree with your statement, the Russians have a demographic nightmare ahead and everyone knows it. The recent prominence Russia has attained though may be just what it needs. The prestige associated with a resurgent Russia could bring people back to the country, and the Putin regime has pumped excessive amounts of money into infrastructure projects to turn Russian into a first world nation. Yes, they are in a very ugly place, but they’re doing something about it. Time will tell whether it works or not.

    On the weakness of the Russian economy, oligarchs have been a huge problem and that shouldn’t be forgotten. Much like the oligarchs in the Ukraine, they stifle economic growth and entrepreneurship, preferring to become merchant kings themselves at the expense of regional economic development. This, combined with the Yeltsin era collapse and lingering Communist mindsets have slowed economic growth. This may all change in a single generation though, again time will tell.

    Personally I think that Putin and the Russians are making the right move. Their economy is vulnerable, and they know it. Their military capabilities are among the strongest in the world, but almost exclusively designed around the defense of their own territories against hostile air and naval forces (like the United States). Politically they aren’t the most popular of the bunch, and they know that Americans have been encircling them for many years.

    Their solution was to lay low for a decade, slowly rebuilding the economy and infrastructure, making contacts and contracts with Europeans, dominating the resource market, Applying their military expertise directly to specific areas to counter American hegemony, and making the right diplomatic moves at the right time.

    Consider the recent inception of the New Development Bank, in the hands of the BRICS and not the USA. Russia and China both have been waiting on this for a long time, and the pieces finally fell into place in the Ukraine. Even if the other BRICS don’t want to face the Americans the way Russia is, they’ve all been waiting for a chance to ally economically and diplomatically, and this pathway has opened.

    I’ll say again, Strategy Page on Russia is an exceptionally weak source. They talk about hired internet trolls, which the NSA has admitted to using. They talk about Russians expanding the military as a reaction to a plot to destroy Russia, but such a plot has been publicly admitted by American leadership before and, most importantly, the geopolitics of eastern europe tell the story. The inclusion of the baltic nations into NATO, the coup in the Ukraine, the placement of useless missile defence systems in Poland, the encouragement of a belligerent Georgia in the Caucasus, the attempt to incite war in Syria, the rape of Libya, all of these are in part aimed at Russia, and combined it is clear they are no coincidence. If they young weren’t aware before of America as the new ‘evil empire’, they are now with the American’s explicit support of fascists in Ukraine. Fascists who, by the way, have been massacring scores of Russians in the Eastern Ukraine, and left the Russian federation with hundreds of thousands of refugees in Crimea and Rostov. Russia has real problems, and the American lead NATO is the biggest one. The Russians are a hardy people, and they can make it through what is to come. But how can you grow your economy in the peace and tranquility you need when the world’s strongest and most belligerent nation support fascists on your doorstep and kills your ethnic brothers?

    As for the European reliance on energy, they really don’t have a choice. There are no alternatives for them, not without changing the way Europe uses power in a big way or sinking great deals of money into industries that Europeans simply don’t want to work in. Obviously developing their own industries is better in the long run, but you need only look at the German economy and the behavior of the ECB to see how short sighted they are, economically speaking.

    You are right about one thing. There are no good guys on the international stage, only less bad ones. And Putin is definitely one of the less bad, though he won’t look out for you and I should he get the upper hand. I implore you to find a better source on Russian policy analysis, as I spotted many, many blatant falsehoods. is an experienced, anti-soviet military analyst who has mode a host of successful predictions, check him out.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Interesting comment, thanks.

      I noticed that your link to admits to being 100% on Russia’s side in the conflict, and has a great deal to say about the Zionist plot etc. It is good that he reveals his biases up front, but there are a lot of troubling catch phrases and cliched talking points embedded in his writing. I will take him with a few barrels of salt, but it is another point of view to ponder, and thanks for the link.

      When looking at a particular country, I like to look at what can be demonstrated objectively. Death rates and birth rates for example. Crime rates, corruption, and quality of public health and levels of freedom. Or levels of capital flight and brain drain, or level of dependency on one particular industry — without significant meaningful effort to diversify the economy. If an oil dictator becomes an oppressive enemy of human economic rights and rights of expression, for example, he is not helping the country in the long run, no matter how many billions he and his cronies are able to stash away from oil & gas revenues. 😉

      Your comment contains many unfalsifiable assertions, but also a few falsifiable claims. For example, you claim that Crimea is 90% Russian. Wikipedia — — describes Crimea as having 58.5% Russians, 24% Ukrainians, 10% Crimean Tatars, and a sprinkling of other ethnics. Of course, by the time Putin ethnically cleanses Crimea, your estimate may well be correct.

      It’s best to be careful when making a long list of unsupported assertions to strangers. About Putin, for example, I have followed the man closely for decades. In my opinion, Russia is far worse a place for allowing Putin to declare himself dictator. Most of the disastrous economic collapse blamed on Yeltsin, for example, was already beginning as the Soviet Union began to collapse. No one could have saved Russia from the aftermath of 70 years of disastrously inept Soviet rule. The economic fallout was destined to be severe no matter who tried to lead the country. There was never a magical fairlyand of wonder and prosperity for Russia to slide painlessly into, particularly after the Soviets crapped all over the place.

      BTW in blog postings, I tend to link to sources that are both provocative and have good sourcing most of the time. I consider Strategy Page to be one of those sources. If you have actual examples of evidence to the contrary, feel free to link. Your link to vineyardsaker can only be taken as an example of a particular bias, although if you have other sources to balance that one, please link.

  2. al fin, wise choice to be skeptical. We get closer to the truth that way. I’ve been reading the Saker for years. It took a number of successful predictions and elucidations, revealed after the fact, for me to take him seriously, as I was raised in an environment rather Russophobic as well.

    My apologies on the Crimea note, I made a mistake. I meant Russian speaking population, of course there are many Ukraininans in Crimea and in the Donbass and Lugansk as well. Given Putin’s policy record on dealing with ethnic minorities, I doubt he will attempt to ethnically cleanse them, although there is no doubt the speaking of Russian will be encouraged. But again, the people there are already, by and large, Russian speakers.

    On the dictator note, that may be an unfair assertion but it is hard to say. Putin is enormously popular in Russia itself, and none of the parties get anywhere close to him in their legislature, but is it justified to call him a dictator? It’s not a one party state. The question is, can he ever really fall from power. But would even that make him a dictator? Putin walks a fine line and I think he does that intentionally. Practically speaking though the Ukraine is a dictatorship pretending to be a democracy, while Russia is more like a democracy pretending to be a dictatorship. Given the similar language, culture, and economic circumstances, it is an interesting comparison.

    The Soviets absolutely screwed it up, there’s no doubt about that. But that comes with enormous central planning. Still, the mass privatization was a diasaster in equal measure. In many cases animals like Kolomoisky climbed to the top of the oligarchic pyramid, and these men are the last people you want to supply power too. Were the Yeltsin years better than the Soviet ones? I’d say no. Yeltsin inherited a disaster, and then he made it worse. It didn’t help that he ran Russia like a Commisar. Putin in turn inherited the disasters of the presidency before him and he’s doing a reasonably good job. His dealings with Germany and China were particularly astute decisions, although this whole Ukraine conflict was probably designed, in part, to pull Germany back into the American fold.

    As for Strategy Page, I’ll make a few comments on the falsehoods. It would not be courteous of me to claim they lie without explaining. I’ll go piece by piece.

    “The Ukraine situation got a lot worse a week ago when pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian airliner that was passing through.”

    No proof for this. The only justification in the international media is the US government saying that have photos of Rebel BUKs who ‘probably’ shot down the plane. They refuse to release said photos. And yes, they had a satellite overhead at the time the plain went down. Added to the fact that the USA typically lies to gain Causus Belli (Iraq WMD, Libyan killing Civs, Syria Gas Attack, Iran Nuclear Bomb) we should wonder who intelligent analysts don’t rely on more hard evidence before believing what the American state claims.

    “Russia claims a Ukrainian fighter shot down the airliner, which may be why the rebels kept international investigators away from the crash site for so long.”

    There is no proof that a Ukie fighter shot down the airliner, but there was a Ukie fighter trailing the airliner and then rising just before the plane was shot down. This was recorded on civilian and military radars, and the Russians claim to have released the data showing the fighter jet tailing the plane.

    Second, there is no proof the rebels kept anyone away. Rather, they secured the crash site, in their own territory, themselves. It should be noted that the international investigators (the OSCE are not aviation investigators, they’re nobodies here) were kept in Kiev and had difficulty traveling to the site. It took them days to arrive, which is painfully slow on a crime scene in the middle of a warzone. Keep in mind the Ukies were engaged in an offensive in the general area, at the time, further slowing the investigation.

    The Russians also leaked photos apparently showing the Ukrainian BUK vehicles in that area and nearby villages around the same time. The militia has no airforce, so why are the BUKs there? Before the claim is made that the Militia stole the BUKs, we should remember that even if they did (which would be difficult at best) they would have nobody to operate them. The Ukie army may be incompetent, but the militia is not at all a professional army, after all. They stand no chance against the Russian military, and they know it. The situation is suspicious. The Ukie SBU, their secret service, apparently confiscated the air traffic control logs, after it was found that they ordered MH17 to fly lower. Also a strange thing.

    The evidence really is damning. There is evidence for each of these claims. You should be able to find articles, or even the pictures or reports themselves simply by googling. For example here is confirmation from Malaysia Airlines about the deviation from the flight path.

    “Ukraine also captured radio traffic featuring rebels talking about shooting down a Ukrainian transport on the 17th. There is no evidence that Russia ordered the airliner shot down.”

    If I remember correctly, this came off a youtube video that people don’t really take seriously. I watched it for a bit, then put it aside, because I didn’t think it was credible. I’d be open to re-examining it, but I’m still doubtful. As for actual radio traffic, the Ukies are welcome to release information but they’ve done nothing of the sort. They refuse to release any evidence. We’re supposed to trust the worst of these fascists? No way. A little transparency would go a long way, and their lack thereof is damning.

    “All this is about Ukrainian security forces striking back at rebel held areas and basically crippling Russian efforts to annex the Donbas.”

    This is a fiction. If the Russians wanted to take it, they could, and no one could stop them. They know that, the Ukies know that, the Americans know that. The question is, why haven’t they? There are bigger geopolitical fish to fry, but whoever wrote this piece didn’t catch on to that.

    “Ukraine wants to hold onto Donbas but needs foreign help to do so. With airliner incident, more foreign help appears to be coming.”

    Is this a coincidence? The Ukies have done some horrible things. Why wouldn’t they do this? It’s not evidence, but it is motivate. In politics, you follow the money and find out who benefits in order to extrapolate the causes of events.

    “July 22, 2014: The U.S. accused Russia of continuing to finance the pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine (Donbas). The U.S. also believes, based on satellite photos and electronic surveillance, that Russia is still supplying the rebels with cash, advisers and weapons.”

    Release the evidence. They don’t. Why should we take their claim seriously? We shouldn’t.

    “In eastern Ukraine (Donetsk) four people were killed when rebels clashed with local Ukrainian militiamen near the airport. The Ukrainian Army has halted operations until the airliner situation can be taken care of, but there are pro-Ukraine militias operating in the Donbas that often do not follow orders from the army.”

    This is a lie. Both airports in Donetsk and Lugansk were being attacked as this airplane fiasco has been ongoing. The National Guard is a state run militia, the Ukie state is responsible for them. Hundreds of people have died in artillery and rocket attacks in both cities, though moreso lugansk. Talk about a total fiction here.

    “July 18, 2014: Ukraine reports that in the last week 52 of their soldiers have died fighting the Donbas rebels. Over two months of fighting have left at least 270 soldiers and over a hundred pro-Ukraine militia men dead in the fighting. Rebel losses are believed to be a bit higher.”

    This is BS. Numerous sources attest that a Ukie column has been trapped between militias in the north and the Russian border in the south in a place now being called ‘the southern cauldron’. The column has been getting decimated. There are even rumours that the entire column was finally annhilated today, though we’ll know in a few days regardless if that’s true or not. That would mean, btw, thousands of dead soldiers in a single day. But we really don’t know. The info coming out of the Ukies and Russians there on the ground has varying reliability, and we can only confirm the truth after one side has decimated the other, since they both claim victory. I have found that Strelkov’s speeches have been generally honest and forthright, if grim.

    “In Donbas a growing number of pro-Russian residents are leaving for Russia. The loss of the airliner is interpreted by the locals as a bad sign and certain to bring even more attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces. Moreover the rebels have lost control of much of the Donbas meaning that rebel held areas have problems with electricity and water supplies. Although Russia has sent over a hundred truckloads of weapons, munitions and other supplies in the last week, morale among many of the rebels is low and more non-Ukrainians are seen in the rebel units.”

    Yes, people are leaving Donbass, but they already have by the hundreds of thousands. Nobody there cares about an airliner, they care about getting shot by nazis or shelled by artillery. Have you seen pictures of Slaviansk? It’s a third world hellhole now. The whole city population has collapsed as well. It’s ruins now. The Ukies, frustrated that they couldn’t drive out Strelkov’s forces with their infantry, evidently resorted to bombarding the whole city just because they could. There will be an abundance of evidence soon when people start traveling to the city and see how destroyed it is.

    As for the weapons, there is undoubtedly support for the militia, but the question is at what scale. Notably the only tanks the Militia has received have been stolen. The same with BMPs (APCs). Whatever support they have been receiving has been relatively paltry. Consider this. If Russia really wanted to, they could ship Grad rocket launchers, MANPADs, and old soviet tanks and APCs en masse. But the evidence doesn’t show that at all. If they had, the fighting wouldn’t be centered around airports, it would be out in the wide open fields that surround the area. Also, the USA is always watching. If the Russians were sending in tanks, the Ukies and Americans would know. You can’t hide tank convoys.

    “Russia continues to call for negotiations over the continued fighting in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels who want the Donbas are to be part of Russia. Ukraine notes that Russia is still sending in aid for the rebels and does not seem to be sincere about negotiating.”

    This isn’t at all a fair statement. The Ukie government under Poroshenko has in every case refused to negotiate. The closest he got to that was unilaterally declaring a ceasefire and sending them de facto terms of surrender. Lay down your guns, obey our laws, surrender your criminals. We saw this months ago too, when the fighting had yet to break out. The new Ukie state refused to consider federalization and even rammed through laws banning Russian and other languages.

    “Russia complained that an artillery shell landed on their side of the border and blamed Ukrainian forces fighting rebels in the Donbass.”

    The Ukies have repeatedly, ‘accidentally’ bombarded the Russian border and a number of towns. There are videos to corroborate this. The Russians haven’t shot back, even though one woman died.

    I think it is fair to ask for evidence, but there is so much to go to. I will get a few, and the rest can be googled. If you are interested in the truth please explore it. The Saker also routinely posts the work of other people, or translations of speeches, or relevant videos, though he does where his heart on his sleeve. Here’s another source highlighting the deception:

    Everything will be from the alternative media or, in rare cases, from the Ukie and Russian state departments. The MSM barely reports on this whole matter. They’ve been silent on the whole Ukraine conflict itself, until this plane crashed. The Ukies have the habit of constantly incriminating themselves, and the Russians like to post evidence, foolishly thinking that the world cares about evidence. Man, that was so long, my apologies that I couldn’t be more concise.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Comment sections are worthless when they become an endless repetition of unsupported opinions. The best approach for an imperfect form of communication is to stick with what can be documented reliably.

      Why does the UN expect Russia to shrink in population over the next few decades by up to 30% or more by 2050?

      Once one looks beneath the thin veneer, Russia is seen as a basket case. This is true from a public health perspective, from the perspective of international capital flows, business risks, lack of diversification of the economy (in fact Putin is pushing Russia into increased dependency on the resource curse), loss of the best and the brightest, a continuing descent into malaise, alcoholism, suicide, etc.

      Brain drain continues to be a problem, as does “womb drain” — the outward flow of young fertile women from Russia.

      This comment stream has gone as far as it can, in terms of information exchange. Consult past articles in this blog and in “Al Fin” blog if you want any more perspective on what the writers of this blog think of Putin.

      Your opinions are clear, and there is no need to rehash opinions ad nauseam. As I have told other commenters, repetition of opinions does not add weight to them.

      If you can support a claim that Putin is building a better Russia — as opposed to merely a more belligerent and militant Russia-in-decline — please provide ample links of a non-partisan nature.

  3. bob sykes says:

    I think al fin is excessively pessimistic regarding Russia, especially as all the white and east Asian populations are in the same demographic death spiral. Putin has been spectacularly successful in pulling Russia out of total collapse, and he is clearly a more creative and insightful geopolitical thinker than anyone in the West. He and Lavrov are on a par with Nixon and Kissinger. Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Merkel, Barroso/Juncker , Van Rompuy and Rasmussen are a clown show, unfortunately and arrogant, delusional clown show.

    The Ukrainian situation is downright scary. The US/EU/NATO have acted very aggressively and unilaterally against Russia and its vital interests. The absolute refusal of US/EU/NATO and its puppet Poroshenko to negotiate with the rebels and the east has brought Europe to the verge of war. If war comes, it will have been started by the US/EU/NATO combine.

    Also disturbing is the jingoistic yellow journalism passing for news analysis in every one of the major news outlets, and even such sites as Meade’s The American Interest, who’s Ukrainian reports dishonest and risible. All of this war-mongering appears to be a scheme to prepare the American people for yet another war.

    The main problem the world faces is that the hegemon’s Ruling Class is comprised of idiots who have plunged large parts of the world into chaos: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and now Ukraine. Obama has another two and one-half years to expand the chaos, and he is narcissistic enough to do it.Our Ruling Class sees your carrier graphic and many others like it, and they believe they have infinite power and that Russia, China, Iran and others must bow down to them. They won’t, and Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals make the carrier fleets irrelevant.

    PS—I visit the Saker, too. His biases are in your face obvious, and he does make interpretative errors. He is also prone to accept Strelkov’s and Russian statements at face value. However, his site has become the major outlet for alternative views on the Ukrainian situation and also on the Middle East. The site’s growth has been explosive and is now available in French and German as well as English, which has to indicate widespread distrust of the MSM and our Ruling Class.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Putin is making a habit of invading neighboring lands, despite Russia’s ongoing collapse on many levels. Militant expansionism of this type rarely ends well. It is clear that Russians are being prepared by their monopolistic state media for conflict.

      The west, on the other hand, is pure decadence. War is the last thing that westerners want to be told about. Europe is already well under Russian energy compulsion due to its imbecilic dependency on unreliable energy forms.

      As an aside, it is difficult to believe that anyone would want to flee Crimea, now that it has been liberated:,Why-Crimeans-are-refused-refugee-status-in-EU

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