Russia is divided in two: On one side is Moscow and its surrounds, home of the globalized elite who feed like parasites on the nation’s riches. And on the other side is the rest of the country. __ Meanwhile in Siberia
Having lost its European empire in the twentieth century, Russia may find that its biggest threat in the twenty-first is that of the loss of its Asian empire. Stretching for thousands of miles east of Siberia, the Russian Far East is thinly settled and poorly integrated into the rest of the country. In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States because it could neither govern nor defend it. Today’s Russia must act soon to prevent a similar scenario on its eastern flank.
… Over time, the Russian Far East has come to depend more and more on investment from China—witness Gazprom’s much-trumpeted pipeline deals with China National Petroleum Corporation. In turn, the region will find itself more and more in the position of Mongolia: drawn into China’s orbit. Even if China continues to show no interest in exerting influence on Russia, its influence will increase all the same. As long as China is bursting at the seams with people and capital while the Russian Far East remains empty and poor, population and money will flow from China into the Far East. __ Salvatore Babones
Siberians feel very distant from Moscow. They have different attitudes from conventional Russians who live west of the Urals.
Over the centuries, Siberias’ inhabitants, including its ethnic Russian population, developed a very distinctive identity—a sort of swash-buckling frontier spirit akin to the American pioneers… tensions between Moscow and Siberia are still evident today. In 2012, for example, the Siberian region of Tomsk delivered 130 billion rubles in tax revenue to Moscow, but received just 10.3 billion rubles in investment from the Russian government… Since 2004, Vladimir Putin’s centralizing reforms have also given the Russian government more control over selecting regional governors, transforming these officials into “mouthpieces of federal policy” and inflaming hostility toward Moscow.
… The national movement is especially potent in larger Siberian cities with intellectual centers—like Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Omsk, and Irkutsk. In Novosibirsk, a major rally under the slogan “Stop Feeding Moscow!” was held in Oct. 2011, demanding a change in tax allocation mechanisms, so that regions like Siberia can claim larger shares of hydrocarbon revenues… If the status quo continues—and Siberians continue to feel exploited by the central governmen—the Russian Federation may be faced with a serious political crisis. __ http://qz.com/454873
By precipitating the crisis in Eastern Europe, Putin was forced to give less attention to Siberia and the Far East — where most of Russia’s wealth lies. Putin may expect China to safeguard Russia’s wealth for him, but it is likely that China has other, longer-term ideas for Siberia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said here Friday that Russia expects Chinese companies to make “significant contribution” to the development of Russia’s Siberia and its Far East region.
“I think that Chinese companies could make a significant contribution to the development plans and objectives that we set for ourselves in the region (of Siberia and the Far East),” Putin said at a press conference after the BRICS and SCO summits concluded here in the southwestern Russian city of Ufa.
According to Putin, the participation in Russia’s regional development plans would also bring about interests to Chinese enterprises. __ Xinhua
Under the surface, things are not so cozy between the dragon and the bear.
Chinese companies have stepped in to provide Russian companies with technology that they can no longer access as a result of Western sanctions, and Chinese banks have become an important source of loans for sanctions-stricken Russian businesses.
But more than a year after the two countries initiated most of their bilateral projects, there has been no significant progress, and some projects have been abandoned altogether…
… The limited progress of Sino-Russian economic initiatives is consistent with Beijing’s broader response to the Ukraine crisis. Although China’s state-controlled media has expressed understanding for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, and senior Chinese officials have publicly opposed the West’s sanctions against Russia, Beijing has refused to provide diplomatic support to Moscow where it matters most. The Chinese leadership has not formally recognized the annexation of Crimea. It did not vote with Russia on Ukraine-related resolutions in the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and it was quick to develop good relations with the new authorities in Ukraine.
… China’s relentless economic expansion in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is causing concern in Moscow. Central Asia analysts warn that the Kremlin’s strong-arm tactics in Ukraine – such as spurring separatist unrest among the region’s ethnic Russian population, or using its military bases in the region as launch pads for covert military operations – might in the future be directed against China’s interests in countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan.
China and Russia are often depicted as having closed ranks in response to the Ukraine crisis. But they’ve made little progress in the bilateral economic and financial projects that they’ve announced with considerable fanfare. __ Bjorn Duben
As China provides more technical assistance — particularly very sophisticated electronic military technical assistance — Russia becomes more vulnerable to the dragon. Eventually, Russia would not be able to launch a missile if China did not wish it, because China would have backdoor electronic control of Russia’s military infrastructure.
China’s own farmland is degraded, and the dragon cannot produce enough food or assets for its people. China is moving to take control of large areas of Siberian farmland, select Russian oil fields and coal deposits, and vast commercial enterprises inside Russian Siberia. It cannot be long before China demands more control of larger parts of the far east.
There is certainly no deep affection between Moscow and Beijing, once one looks beneath the surface layer of cooperation against what is perceived as America’s global interests. China’s links to Ukraine have grown stronger since the Russian invasion, and the Central Asian republics are already showing preference for Beijing over an increasingly erratic Moscow.
It’s obvious to people living in Siberia that a measure of independence would be good for their home region. They need only look across the Bering Strait for an example. Isn’t Alaska so attractive for investors precisely because it has as much autonomy as a federal system allows? Alaska produces almost as much oil as all of Siberia and the Russian Far East, produces 50% more ocean products than all of Russia’s Pacific Coast, and its major cities are growing. Major Siberian cities are losing population…
… Russia is divided in two: On one side is Moscow and its surrounds, home of the globalized elite who feed like parasites on the nation’s riches. And on the other side is the rest of the country ___ Vladislav Inozemtsev in RealClearWorld
From the viewpoint of native Siberians, neither Moscow nor Beijing appear desirable as overlords. China will only poison the pristine lands of Siberia, and Moscow will continue to steal Siberia blind. Siberians wish for greater independence.
To escape being raped by either the dragon or the bear, Siberians might consider forming an alliance with Canada, Japan, and Alaska. With help from more civilised jurisdictions, Siberia may see a way to emerge from between a rock and a hard place.
The US shows no sign of wanting Siberia, but what if Siberia were made the 51st state, rather than Taiwan?
… what would happen if the U.S. annexed Siberia[?] For one thing, Siberia makes up more than three-quarters of Russia’s territory, so the United States would suddenly move from third-largest country in the world (or fourth-largest, if you count Taiwan as part of China and decline to include U.S. overseas territories) to an easy number one—almost 9 million square miles (ca. 23,310,000 square km) in extent, exceeding by more than 2 million square miles (ca. 5,180,000 square km) Russia’s current size. Russia, meanwhile, would plummet from first place to 19th, with just over a million and a half square miles. The new top-20 ranking would be: 1. U.S., 2. Canada, 3. China, 4. Brazil, 5. Australia, 6. India, 7. Argentina, 8. Kazakhstan, 9. Algeria, 10. Democratic Republic of the Congo, 11. Denmark (including Greenland), 12. Saudi Arabia, 13. Mexico, 14. Indonesia, 15. Sudan (north), 16. Libya, 17. Iran, 18. Mongolia, 19. Russia, 20. Peru.
Russia would be smaller than Kazakhstan. __ Springtime of Nations
With so much land, the US could once again open itself to greater “legal immigration” and homesteading of land. Native Siberian tribes could more easily visit their distant relatives in Alaska and Canada. And the political complications of damming and bridging the Bering Strait would suddenly melt away. Instant land-bridge between the old and new worlds!
I have long advocated sending illegal aliens from Latin America to Siberia, and we will need new people to colonize this vast frontier. We will no longer be forced to play hide-and-seek with millions of illegals, offering them an amnesty to settle in the new American west. I’d much prefer hard working Mexican and Central American settlers to Chicoms there.
Also, perhaps we can give the American Left what it always wanted; bringing Russia to America! __ Tim Birdnow
Perhaps what the American left actually desires is a new Gulag Archipelago, located in the the sandy wasteland of Libya or Niger? On the other hand, who cares what the American left wants?
Meanwhile, inside Russia proper, things are turning more grim:
Inside Russia the government line that the sanctions (and the lower oil price) have done little harm are belied by opinion surveys that show over 70 percent of Russians have less to spend. The unemployment rate is up to 14 percent and despite government efforts to distort or hide official statistics economists inside and outside Russia agree that the Russian GDP is shrinking and foreign trade is sinking even faster. Inflation is over 16 percent and rising as the government tries to paper over the situation by printing more cash. In only one area are things looking up; the popularity of president Vladimir Putin. In June his approval rating was 89 percent. But this approval is maintained by government controlled media and lots of publicity stunts and grandstanding. Reality has a tendency of eventually catching up with fantasy. You can delay the bad news, but you can’t stop it.
… The Russian efforts to sabotage the Ukrainian economy are seen by Ukrainians as more proof that Russians are evil and toxic for Ukraine. For the Russians all this is simply a righteous attempt to rebuild the Russian empire and better defend the high opinion the Russians have of themselves.
… Russia has returned to police state ways and the traditional threatening attitude towards neighbors. Rather than being run by corrupt communist bureaucrats, the country is now dominated by corrupt businessmen, gangsters and self-serving government officials. The corruption has made it more difficult to do business with foreign countries and anti-corruption efforts have only been partially successful. For example several Western banks are being investigated for taking (or discussing taking) Russian bribes to help Russia get around economic sanctions. Inside Russia the corruption appears to be getting worse. ___ Avenging Nuclear Angels
China views BRICS and the SCO as two of many vehicles to elevate its status as a rising world power. Russia is clinging to them to slow down its decline.
Beijing is pursuing a multivectored foreign policy, keeping its doors open to the West while building up its power in Asia. Having burned its bridges with the West, Moscow only has one place to turn.
The Chinese are playing a long game and thinking strategically. A confident and rising power, they feel no need to confront the West head on at this point. The Russians are reacting to short-term needs and thinking tactically. _
More reasons for Siberians to look away from a dysfunctional Muscovy.
This year alone, Russians have suffered a 3 percent loss in real disposable income (6.4 percent year on year). In the 12 months to April, exports — vital for providing foreign currency — fell 33.9 percent, and imports shrank 40.8 percent. The outlook is very poor.
… Regime change in Russia is inevitable, maybe imminent. But the West should not bet on that eventuality or make it a policy goal. The Russian people will rise up again, but the path to a sustainable democracy and stable economy will be challenging. The West should be ready to help then.
What the Western democracies must do now, for Russia and for themselves, is prove that they will defend their values and international law. __ Moscow Regime Change
No one forced Putin to choose the loser’s path. It’s just who he is, under the facade.