After the Dam Breaks, the Deluge

All signs point to the eventual collapse of Putin’s regime.… When the rotten Russian dam breaks, as it inevitably will, only strong and stable non-Russian states will be able to contain the flooding, shielding the rest of the world from Putin’s disastrous legacy of ruin. __Countdown to Deluge

According to some analysts, unless Russia changes course we could well be seeing the end of a Russian era, and the beginning of another.

Dam Breaking

Dam Breaking

… the most depressing prediction was made by Kashin, the journalist who survived the attempt on his life. He believes his homeland is fated to suffer eternal oppression, corruption and stagnation. With or without Putin. “There is nowhere to get new leaders from, or a new opposition, or a new people,” Kashin has written. __ Fate of the Homeland After Putin

As mentioned above, Putin’s regime is in mortal peril.

All signs point to the eventual collapse of Putin’s regime. … just after the Sochi Olympics, he blew it all. The Crimean annexation has been an unmitigated economic disaster. The Russian war in eastern Ukraine has killed Russians by the thousands. Ukraine, which was well on its way to becoming a Russian vassal state under former President Viktor Yanukovych, has turned against the Kremlin. The ruble, along with the Russian economy, is in free fall, as Western sanctions bite. Putin, Russia’s “Man of the Year,” is now routinely compared to Adolf Hitler.

… the West should do all it can now to support Ukraine and encourage Putin to deescalate the war. The West can also limit the fallout from a possible regime collapse by supporting Russia’s neighbors—especially Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine—economically, diplomatically, and militarily. When the rotten Russian dam breaks, as it inevitably will, only strong and stable non-Russian states will be able to contain the flooding, shielding the rest of the world from Putin’s disastrous legacy of ruin. __ After the Fall of Putin

Bad government policies lead eventually to general misery and collapse.

Putin and his advisers are driving the country toward a catastrophe. If the Kremlin keeps it up, says Rabinovich, Russia will experience a total economic collapse within months. __ Russia Collapse

Living conditions are poor and getting worse with time. General rot and decline cannot be papered over by Russophiles for much longer.

Most Russians live in housing built in the late Soviet period. A report released last year by the Russian Union of Engineers found that 20 percent of city dwellings lack hot water, 12 percent have no central heating and 10 percent no indoor plumbing. Gas leaks, explosions and heating breakdowns happen with increasing frequency, but in most places infrastructure is simply edging quietly toward collapse. __A Crumbling Russia

The general decay was ongoing even before the sanctions and the drop in oil prices. But now the situation is becoming grimmer at a more rapid rate.

Russia’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by nearly one-third since October 2013; they’ve fallen 20 percent just since September 2014. Whereas the country still has over $300 billion in reserves, about $150 billion of this may be illiquid; it also has close to $700 billion in external debt. __ Russia Running Out of Liquidity

Putin and his inner circle are feeling no pain. It is the rest of Russia that is hurting.

Russia’s economic outlook “has deteriorated significantly” in just six months, Fitch stated. Gross Domestic Product will shrink 4pc this year, the agency added, far worse than the 1.5pc contraction it previously expected. “Growth may not return until 2017,” Fitch said.

Western sanctions, imposed after President Vladimir Putin’s took Russia into neighbouring Ukraine, “continue to weigh on the economy” but the plunging oil price is causing just as much, if not more, damage to one of the world’s energy giants…. __ Economic Collapse

Russia’s government doesn’t care if average Russians suffer. But there is something that the mafia/KGB oligarchy fears:

… When asked recently about the possibility of “SWIFT” sanctions, which would bar Russia from the international payment system, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow’s response would be “without limits.” Andrei Kostin, the head of Russia’s second-largest bank, said last month at the World Economic Forum that such a move would instantly lead to the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador from Moscow and the recall of Russia’s ambassador to Washington. It would mean that “the countries are on the verge of war, or they are definitely in a cold war,” Kostin added. __ What Russia Truly Fears

Fareed Zakaria suggests above that Putin fears further economic isolation far more than he fears the arming of Ukraine by NATO.

Without access to the international banking system and international trade, Russia as it is now known would cease to exist.

He [Pidcock] said “Russia is on the brink of political, economic and territorial collapse – they have burnt through billions in foreign reserves and are going through a huge brain drain.

“I am quite convinced that in 20 years we will see a territorial transaction involving Russia. China is the only likely buyer.”

When asked whether the contrarian investors currently favouring Russia were likely to find any success, Pidcock added: “you would only want to invest in Russia if the oil price is going to surge quickly, and soon.” __The Collapse of the Motherland

Will the price of oil “recover” rapidly?

Dismal economic conditions in Europe and much of the Anglosphere suggest that global oil demand is not likely to spike rapidly. Combined with a current global oversupply of oil, low global demand suggests that oil prices will not rise high enough or quickly enough to suit the mafia/KGB leadership of the corrupt Russian state.

Russian leaders have literally “blown a fuse.” Their ability to reflect upon
their own words and deeds has given way to knee-jerk reactions that, in contrast to Putin’s rule from 2003 to 2011, provide for no rational end to the current escalation of tensions.
__Russia Blows a Fuse

Russia has avoided further economic sanctions for now, but every day that passes under the current regime sees the hopes for a more expansive and prosperous Russia fading away.

The Ukrainian aggression is costing Russia more than money, it is also severely damaging political and personal relationships built up with great effort after the Cold War ended. With the loss of those personal connections Russia is throwing away easy access to economic opportunities and diplomatic support. Russia is feeling the economic cost now, and if China turns hostile (which it eventually will), Russia will have few allies to rely on.

Even India, long a reliable friend, is backing away. That leaves Russia with Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and several other international outcasts to depend on. __Source

Russia and Putin can simply not be trusted. Not by anyone for anything. Only suckers buy into the Russian scam now.

Russia “looks cheap on paper but the problem is the economics don’t matter anymore,” he explained, adding “It’s really a sucker’s market.” __ A Change of Heart on Russia

Russians have been immersed in propaganda and public disinformation for so long that they can not easily distinguish reality from state sponsored fantasy.

I recently moved to Moscow, and it’s hard to miss the extent to which Russian society exists in an alternate universe. Even well-educated, sophisticated people who have traveled widely in Europe and North America will frequently voice opinions that, in an American context, would place them alongside people wearing tinfoil hats. Russia is not living in the reality-based community. _WaPo

Superstition and delusion rule the day in the land of government approved brainwashing.

Among Russians’ weaknesses is a proclivity for believing in all kinds of strange ideas, a tendency that manifests itself in persecution manias, neo-Eurasianism, and zapadophobia (fear of the West) as well as the exaggerated belief in Russia’s historical destiny. Such afflictions are by no means exclusively Russian. They can be found to varying degrees in many countries. Nationalist feelings have been running high in many countries, but it is difficult to think of an accumulation of hatred similar to what has taken place in Russia in recent years. It could be argued that such afflictions may not last forever; they may weaken or even disappear. But in an age of weapons of mass destruction, they are a major danger. __ Can Russia Have a Future?

The end result is an accelerating loss of human capital and financial capital. This has a ratcheting effect, reducing Russia’s chances of bouncing back with the loss of each promising entrepreneur, professional, college graduate, and fertile young woman.

… well-educated professionals are emigrating from Russia in massive numbers. According to Rosstat, Russia’s federal statistics service, more than 300,000 people left the country from 2012 to 2013, a migration that tellingly coincides with Putin’s stage-managed return for a third presidential term; the rate of departures climbed even higher after the annexation of Crimea last year. By comparison, approximately 70,000 people left from 2010 to 2011. The cream of Russian society is voting with its feet, leaving a stultifying, ever more corrupt environment for greener pastures that allow them to productively apply their talents. __ How the Kremlin props up Putin’s poll numbers

What are some things that might reinstate a bit of reality into the troubled region? For Russia, not very much. Putin chose to fight an unnecessary war, and the rest is history. Ukraine, though deeply troubled, might survive.

The West should treat Ukraine as the contemporary equivalent of West Germany and help transform it into a stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous state. That means, above all, economic and military assistance. A more ambitious form of containment would regard Belarus—whose authoritarian president has recently changed his country’s course from its formerly pro-Russian direction to a more pro-Ukrainian and pro-Western direction—as another key state in need of Western aid.

Ukraine should pursue containment vis-à-vis the separatist Donbas enclave that, according to the February 12th Minsk agreement, is supposed to enjoy a level of autonomy within Ukraine. __ Containing Putin’s Criminal Ambitions

Putin most fears a prosperous and free Ukraine, outside of Russia’s criminal orbit. So that is what the west should be working to create. Let the world clearly see a prospering Ukraine next door to an imploding mafia/KGB Russia — just as it sees South Korea adjacent to North Korea, and as it saw West Germany next to East Germany before reunification.

Support the creation of independent, high-quality, Russian-language media to counter Kremlin propaganda and ensure that Ukrainians in the east can see objective news and information.
Invest in grassroots Ukrainian initiatives at reconciliation between those in eastern and western Ukraine, notably among youth and in towns and villages, to pave the way toward a more unified Ukraine in which all citizens feel they are respected members of society.
Bolster public understanding of reforms that can prevent corruption, revive the economy and produce more efficient and transparent governance.
Back public education campaigns to explain how reforms by the Ukrainian government will be implemented, and how citizens can hold government accountable and make it responsive. __

Health care, education, and basic crucial infrastructure are all on the decline in Putin’s Russia.

Despite high levels of university education among its adult population, Russia has one of the worst literacy scores, and many employers criticise institutions for allowing students to buy their diplomas with little or no studying required. __ Uncultured, Uneducated Nation in Decline

Physicians and hospital workers must cope with draconian budget cuts, while propaganda, espionage, and weapons of mass destruction continue to enjoy generous state support in the midst of deepening recession, high inflation, high unemployment, high interest rates, and a rapid drop-off of quality of life.

Russia’s increasing number of deaths on the roads parallel a demographic crisis that is alarming high officials in the country, a situation the government had promised to address. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of all road traffic deaths are among people aged 15-44, the group most productive economically. In addition, road traffic victims are more likely to need hospitalization than victims of other kinds of trauma…

… traffic accidents not only create socio-economic expenses for victims and their families, but place an onerous burden on public health services. He stressed that it is vitally important to reduce the number of traffic accidents in order to lower fatalities and achieve sustained socio-economic development. __ All Bad Roads Lead Ever Downward

An excellent illustration of the barbarian nature of Putin’s Russia, is the “guided tank tours” of the blood and rubble of East Ukraine by a Russian holiday company that usually specialises in health-oriented tours.

It is too late to turn the clock back on Ukraine:

Russia’s meddling in Ukraine’s affairs has changed the situation profoundly. Since the majority of the Crimea’s residents voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation last year, public opinion in the remainder of the country has turned decidedly against Russia. Ukrainians voted overwhelmingly for parties that advocated European Union and even NATO membership in an election in October. The Ukrainians made clear they don’t want to be “Finlandized.” __ Too Late

The best the KGB/mafia state can do is create a state of perpetual violence and misery. Russophiles will lick Putin’s fissure regardless of what he does. But beneath it all, Russia continues decomposing from the inside out.

The Russian leadership creates one crisis after another in Ukraine to distract the attention of Russians from the collapsing economy, continuing corruption and the expanding police state that is dragging Russia back to the bad old days of the Soviet Union. While the government can keep the discontent largely invisible via the state controlled mass media, the unease at the top is harder to conceal….

To get around the banking sanctions Russia has, in effect established a barter system with China, North Korea and Iran. China has become a major trading partner of Russia. As a result Chinese businesses with Russian dealings have been advised by their government to use the rubles they are paid for goods to buy Russian assets, which are finding far fewer other foreign buyers because of the Russian economic crises. This Chinese aid comes with strings, mainly in terms of Russia agreeing to sell more military tech (design and manufacturing methods) to China.

Many Russians are nervous about this because of Chinese claims on much of eastern Russia and increasing Chinese economic domination in the Russian Far East. At the moment Russian leaders are more concerned with the imaginary threat from the West rather than the very real one from the east. __ With Friends Like These

In the long run, nothing much can save Russia from the cumulative consequences of its horrifically bad choices made over the past century. Russia has been losing its best people for more than a hundred years, with particularly strong surges of loss during particular catastrophes and flares of endemic barbarism.

China will play a waiting game with Russia, hoping the country will eventually implode from a lethal combination of ethnic strife, government corruption, Islamic rebellion, fiscal mismanagement, and a commodities driven economy that lacks diversity. When a total collapse does occur and chaos ensues, China will move in a deliberate and swift fashion across its 4,000 km boarder with Russia to secure what it can of the Russian Far East and Siberia. __ Watch, Wait, Pounce

Russia wants to sustain its empire, but: “Russia doesn’t have the economy to support a sustained presence in Asia.” __ Russia Fears Chinese Dominance

Putin wants to rebuild the military, but Russia cannot afford both a modern military and its corrupt system. In Russia, one should always bet on corruption to prevail.

Western hesitation over selling advanced weapons to Ukraine appear to be breaking down:

.. more countries are considering selling, or donating, weapons to Ukraine, in part because Russia appears to have become quite deranged on this matter and many now believe that stopping Russian in Ukraine might be worth the risk compared to what Russia might become if they took Ukraine (which Russian leaders speak quite openly about). The lessons of the 1930s (when communist Russia and Nazi Germany were using the same tactics in East Europe and the West was making the same excuses they are now) seem to be having an impact… __ Ukraine Slowly Arming Up

Putin’s criminal aggressions appear to be creating the type of armed resistance on its borders that the world’s richest criminal psychopath claims to be trying to prevent.

The Russian misadventures in Crimea and Ukraine provide an excellent illustration to students of why we have not seen the end of history.

A wildly popular Tsar Vlad in 2015 is likely to learn the same lesson that a wildly popular (1914) Tsar Nicholas II learned: Going to war can boost your popularity ratings, but in the long run it can destroy your regime and get you killed.

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