Putting all your honey in one jar is something no wise bear would ever do. By the same token, wise bears don’t shit where they eat. Perhaps this bear is not so wise after all.
As the bear grows hungry in these coming years, Russians should brace for being squeezed more tightly still and so too should Russia’s neighbours.
“There is the potential for much greater violence from the state against difficult people,” says Dr Besemeres, the ANU academic and former government official. “Unfortunately, European wars are no longer unthinkable.” …
… Russia’s central bank began forecasting a staggering 4.5 per cent contraction in GDP next year, and that was before the rouble currency fell through the floor. Last week, as the rouble collapsed, the central bank forestalled a financial crisis by hiking interest rates to 17 per cent, which has virtually guaranteed a recession even more savage than previously predicted.
The fall in oil prices to US$60 since has been so sudden, and so perfectly targeted against Putin’s potentially fatal weakness, that normally-sober commentators have presumed an act of geopolitical warfare. “The United States and Saudi Arabia decided to hurt Russia by driving down oil prices,” wrote The Guardian’s economic editor, Larry Elliott. __Great Expectations Dashed
Putin was warned over a decade ago that he needed to use Russia’s windfall oil & gas profits to diversify Russia’s economy. Instead, he behaved like a vulture capitalist, using the power of the state to steal Russia’s wealth from those who had developed it, stripping Russia’s economy to its bare bones in the process.
Russia had also planned for $100-per-barrel oil in its 2015 budget.
Now, we’re approaching almost half that price . . . and oil revenue accounts for roughly 45% of Russia’s income.
… investors should keep in mind that Russia is in serious trouble, and thus the markets are acting downright spooked. — http://www.trefis.com/stock/rsx/articles/271162/russia%E2%80%99s-influence-over-the-price-of-crude-oil/2014-12-22
Putin is making Russia suffer, but most of the suffering is well out of sight. Russia’s critical infrastructures are taking the brunt of this quickly escalating crisis.
How this man has an 80% approval rating in Russia is beyond me. It’s as if the fascist nightmare that set off World War II has escaped the collective memories of the Russian people. __ Can Putin Save Russia?
Putin “has an 80% approval rating in Russia” for two reasons: Stressed-out Russians are desperate for easy solutions to difficult problems that have been building for over a century, and nothing that comes out of Russia can be believed at this time. Putin’s “pep rally” ultranationalist rah! rah! “non est mea culpa” sermons to the captive choir can only be holding actions, as the tide turns.
Both were in east Germany in 1989 – he as a KGB officer, she as a young scientist – and the lessons they drew were diametrically opposed. In domestic politics she can appear the perfect tactician, tacking this way and that, ruthless as Catherine the Great in seeing off challenges to her power. But in this European crisis, two profound, personal commitments of a Protestant east German of her generation have come to the fore: to peace and to freedom.
In a powerful speech delivered in Sydney last month, she excoriated what Putin has done in Ukraine, referring back to the shared experience from which the two leaders drew such different conclusions: “Who would have thought it possible that 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall … something like this could happen in the middle of Europe? Old thinking in terms of spheres of influence, whereby international law is trampled underfoot, must not be allowed to prevail.”
Earlier in the same speech, she reflected on the lessons of 1914. She has thought hard about the argument made by the historian Christopher Clark in The Sleepwalkers, his masterly account of how Europe stumbled into the first world war. If European leaders went sleepwalking 100 years ago, they must learn the lessons of history and wake up to the danger today. That is why she has talked to Putin more than any other world leader has: 35 phone calls in the first eight months of this year, according to figures released by the Kremlin. (Tellingly, she is also the world leader to whom the American president has spoken most often.)
As she never tires of repeating, her strategy has three prongs: support for Ukraine, diplomacy with Russia and sanctions to bring Putin to the negotiating table. To see Germany leading the way in economic sanctions against Russia is extraordinary. In the early 1990s, I wrote a history of West Germany’s Ostpolitik, culminating in German unification, and the first commandment of that Ostpolitik was that eastern trade should always go on. Sanctions were called for by the US and resisted by Germany. Today, Germany has more trade with Russia than any other European power. Its energy, machine-tool and other eastward–oriented businesses form a powerful lobby, not least within Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union. Yet she has taken them down the path of sanctions.
Of course Putin and the Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine helped, especially with the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in July. But, unlike in the eurozone crisis, she has led rather than followed German public opinion. She has faced down the so-called Putinversteher – those who show such “understanding” for Putin’s actions that they come close to excusing them. She has made the larger arguments, from history, about Europe, and they have resonated. I was particularly impressed by an interview I read with the boss of a German machine-tool company whose exports to Russia have been roughly halved following the imposition of sanctions. Yet this German industrialist said he fully supported them: “If [Neville] Chamberlain had imposed some sort of sanctions on Hitler, things would have been different. Both Hitler and Putin held their Olympics, and after his Olympics, Hitler went to war.” __ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/angela-merkel-russian-europe-russia-german
Vladimir Putin accused the US and EU of conspiring to weaken Russia at his end-of-year news conference on Thursday, but as the country’s economy tanks he has nobody to blame but himself… __ Is Putin Russia’s First Black President?
Blaming others for one’s own problems is the mark of the incompetent, and those of low intelligence. Blaming others for one’s own inadequacies is the trademark of the American black community, and apparently of Putin as well.