Decade Forecast 2015-2025 Sees National Fragmentation Ahead

We expect Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia… __Decade Forecast 2015-2025

The nation of Russia is being pushed to the breaking point by unrealistic neo-imperial ambitions at the highest levels. In just one year, Russia has gone from hosting a showcase Winter Olympics games to the brink of national fragmentation.

According to Russias statistics office, more than 203,000 people left the country in the first 9 months of 2014, compared with 186,382 in the whole of 2013 and just 33,578 in 2010. __ Source

We expect Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia… To Russia’s west, Poland, Hungary and Romania will seek to recover regions lost to the Russians at various points. They will work to bring Belarus and Ukraine into this fold. In the south, the Russians’ ability to continue controlling the North Caucasus will evaporate, and Central Asia will destabilize. In the northwest, the Karelian region will seek to rejoin Finland. In the Far East, the maritime regions more closely linked to China, Japan and the United States than to Moscow will move independently.

Other areas outside of Moscow will not necessarily seek autonomy but will have it thrust upon them. This is the point: There will not be an uprising against Moscow, but Moscow’s withering ability to support and control the Russian Federation will leave a vacuum. What will exist in this vacuum will be the individual fragments of the Russian Federation.

This will create the greatest crisis of the next decade. Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands. The decline of Moscow’s power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed…

… Russia, the declining power, will increasingly lose the ability to protect its maritime interests. The Chinese and the Japanese will both be interested in acquiring these and in preventing each other from having them. We forecast this as the central, unsettled issue in the region as Russia declines and Sino-Japanese competition increases.

__ Stratfor Decade Forecast: 2015-2025

… no matter how it ends, Putin, his regime, and Russia as he knows it today will all be gone. __ Russia vs. NATO

Russia can fall apart. It’s not because of the oil prices … It’s because what sticks a country together is a common interest of people. It has to be economically and socially profitable — beneficial — for people to be together. They should understand how they benefit from a large country. And if they start to feel like a large country is a source of problem, then the country collapses as the Soviet Union collapsed. And right now, I see a lot of alarming trends inside Russia, especially in Siberia, which I represent in the parliament. __ Russian MP Ilya Ponomarev

When Russia disintegrates, hell will follow after. Russia’s neighbors had best prepare for the onslaught and aftermath.

The Baltic Sea nations of Eastern Europe are beefing up their militaries in case the Russian invasion of Ukraine flies out of control. NATO is slowly reacting to Kremlin aggression, preparing a rapid reaction force of division size to bolster the Baltics at moment’s notice. Russia may be a dying bear, but for some bears that is when they are most dangerous to those nearby.

Russians themselves are growing increasingly nervous over the future of the motherland, for several reasons.

Today, hundreds, if not thousands, of Russians are fighting and dying in eastern Ukraine in a covert war against Ukraine’s new government, even as the Kremlin continues to deny aiding separatist rebels. Russia’s economy has been crippled by a triple whammy of falling oil prices, capital flight and Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea and incursion into Ukraine. Russians who had grown accustomed to European travel find their vacations prohibitively expensive because of the ruble’s collapse. In a country whose leaders once went out of their way to court investors, Moody’s last week downgraded Russian debt rating to junk status.

… In Moscow, we go about our daily lives. We meet friends in restaurants, a third of which are expected to go out of business by year’s end because of the collapsing economy. The war in Ukraine hangs like a shadow over the plunging ruble, the closing cafes and the expats vacating their apartments.

… It took Russia just one year to get to this place. No change in government, no attack from beyond, no landslide election or political coup, but a revolution across the border where it chose to intervene. Russia Rapidly Morphing

Putin believed he would not pay a price for playing the bloody international bully. Now it
looks as if he could lose a lot more than his wealth and political clout.

Social unrest can be held off for only so long:

Social unrest is certainly possible, and in my view, could happen fairly soon: The current inflationary spike and declining employment is set to continue over the coming months and will cause public discontent, to put it mildly. __ Moscow State University Economics Dean and Professor

One reason you can’t trust most information coming out of Moscow: Vital Statistics Judging by this, it looks as if fellow traveling grad students Karlin and Adomanis are likely to be served half-cooked crow for dinner. Basing their vocal opinions on bad (cooked) data does not make them look very good. Russia has long been known as “propaganda nation,” or “Potemkin nation.”

Barclay’s cuts Russia’s market access

Russian engineers cannot escape the mindset of Soviet-era technology

The U.S. and Britain are sending military advisers there to help Ukraine’s embattled central government fight Moscow-backed secessionists…

Obama has already agreed to send a battalion of soldiers next month to western Ukraine to train government forces. On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he’d send up to 75 military advisers.

Last fall, roughly 1,300 NATO troops carried out a joint exercise with the Ukrainian army in the country’s west.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, continues to provide military aid — and troops — to rebels in eastern Ukraine, even as he insists he is not. __ Canada Tiptoes Into Ukraine

Stratfor 2015-2025 Decade Forecast

All in all, it looks as if Russia’s multi-crisis decline is still on, after all, and could easily get a lot worse than we thought. Critical infrastructure decline, loss of human capital, loss of economic capital, a declining ethnic Russian population not only in Siberia but in much of the rest of Russia as well, the breakdown of family structure leading to a critical decline of coming generations into crime and chemical dependency, and a loss of what may be Russia’s last generation of innovating scientists and engineers through emigration and attrition.

All of that was already happening before Putin pulled the trigger on Ukraine. The little big man simply turned up the gas a bit.

Update: This is how Putin thinks. Mull it over and adjust your expectations accordingly.

On Russia’s Navy:

Russia lacks the money, expertise and industrial capacity to build aircraft carriers. __ Aircraft Carrier Beyond Russian Capability

On Russia’s Army:

the Kremlin has only two or three dozen units of high readiness forces that can achieve victory in a short-term conflict — with “short-term” the key word in that sentence. Obviously, those units are now worn out after months of fighting a hybrid war, and no replacements exist.

This would explain the attempts to force conscripts to sign contracts for continued service as professional soldiers. What’s more, the secretive nature of the war has caused dissatisfaction among soldiers who chose to make the army their profession. Several such contract servicemen rebelled in Murmansk after learning that they were to be posted to long-term commands on “the Russian-Ukrainian border.” All of this casts doubt on the Kremlin’s military achievements in Ukraine. __ Losing the Long Game

Russia’s Soviet-era infrastructure is crumbling, and funds that may have once been meant for upgrading those critical but failing systems are now being spent on trying to save Russia’s banks and the rouble.

What they call “Russia” is merely corruption and criminality in high places as far as one can see. Russia could have only afforded such a wasteful system when global oil prices were inflated by the bubble economies of earlier days. With lower oil prices, a sobering reality is slowly settling over the Potemkin fantasy nation.

A nation can only exist while enough people continue to believe in it. Once that is no longer true, then puff! . . .

Russia’s decline toward disintegration was already well underway before the invasions of Crimea and Ukraine. In 2012, for example, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky said this:

Russia will start falling apart – federation subjects will declare autonomy. The weaker the center becomes the stronger the movement away from the center will grow. They have to do something about the Far East, Tatarstan. Russia is a huge country, and KGB special forces and [Chechen leader Ramzan] Kadyrov’s fighters will not be enough to send them out everywhere. __Vladimir Bukovsky

The occupation of Crimea and east Ukraine only adds to the burden. As Bukovsky points out, Russia is likely to disintegrate from the outside in, as the outer reaches fly beyond the Kremlin’s control. Piece by piece.

In 2013, former GRU officer Viktor Suvorov said this:

The growing gulf between the Russian people and the Kremlin, ethnic conflicts, regional competition, alcoholism, and the spread of Chinese influence into Siberia and the Russian Far East, Suvorov says, means not only that Russia is weak but that it will disintegrate during the next 10 to 15 years.” _Viktor Suvorov

Suvorov gave a similar timescale to disintegration in 2013 as the Stratfor analysts are giving now.

In March of 2014, sounds of warning over Russia’s future were being sounded by international diplomatic writers:

The problem with the Russian Federation’s economic model, much like that of the Soviet Union’s before it, is that it is only sustainable so long as energy prices remain artificially high. But, of course, energy prices are almost certainly going to decline over the coming years as a result of greater energy efficiency in the West, slowing growth in the East, and greater supply as a result of the energy revolutions being enjoyed in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere around the world. And as goes the price of oil so goes the Russian state. __ Russia is Doomed

Despite these cogent warnings, the Kremlin proceeded to invade Ukraine and threaten destruction to any power that attempted to slow Russia’s march of destruction across Eastern Europe. And so the threat of centrifugal disintegration grows more rapidly.

Normally, we would expect territorial losses to be most acute in the Far East and in the Caucuses — at least in the early stages. The Russian core surrounding Moscow and St. Petersburg would be assumed safe for centuries to come. But that may not be the case if the Kremlin continues along Putin’s erratic path of neo-empire.

Putin caught in Ukrainian trap of own making

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