Jumping the Shark in Russia

Let us imagine a person healthy in body and strong, talented and not unkind—for such is quite justly the general view of the Russian people. We know that this person or people is now in a very sorry state. If we want to help him, we have first to understand what is wrong with him. Thus we learn that he is not really mad, his mind is only afflicted to a considerable extent by false ideas approaching folie de grandeur and a hostility towards everyone and everything. Indifferent to his real advantage, indifferent to damage likely to be caused, he imagines dangers that do not exist, and builds upon them the most absurd propositions. It seems to him that all his neighbors offend him, that they insufficiently bow to his grandness, and in every way want to harm him. He accuses everyone in his family of damaging and deserting him . . .
__ Vladimir Solovyov quoted in http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/d%C3%A9tente-plus-how-should-west-deal-russia

Vladimir Solovyov was one of the great Russian thinkers. He wrote those words in the 19th century, yet they seem as true today, in the age of thermonuclear weapons and advanced delivery systems.

Foreign policy is soap opera in Russia, with cardboard villains and a bombastic, sentimental storyline of heroism and victimisation. The first season was set in the mud of Ukraine, featuring villainous Nazi-loving Ukrainians and brave Russians carrying the anti-fascist banners of their Soviet forbears.

… Russia is now a pariah in the civilised world… The frontline states of Europe – notably those around the Baltic Sea – are raising their military spending. Nato has reluctantly decided that territorial defence of its members is again its main task. The West has imposed sanctions whose long-term effect on the Russian economy will be devastating. __ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/11981659/Vladimir-Putins-showmanship-in-Syria-has-left-him-without-a-strategy.html

And now, after the tragic loss of life over Sinai, Russia is truly jumping the shark.

Instead of Cooperation, the Kremlin is Once Again Choosing Confrontation

Dmitry Kiselyov, one of Russia’s most prominent television pundits and the head of the news agency Rossiya Segodnya, used his news show on November 8 to suggest that the United States may have turned a blind eye to the terrorists who may be responsible for the crash of a Russian passenger flight in Egypt on October 31. __ https://meduza.io/en/news/2015/11/09/top-russian-pundit-speculates-that-washington-allowed-isil-to-crash-the-passenger-flight-in-egypt

He goes on to compare America’s 1970s and 80s backing of the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, with a supposed modern US alliance with ISIL against Russia.

Since Russia’s Syria campaign began, Kremlin officials and the state media have been framing it as a painless war that was boosting Moscow’s international prestige. All patriotic citizens needed to do was sit back and enjoy the grainy footage of terrorists being obliterated by Russia’s shiny new military machine.

The deaths of hundreds of Russian civilians threatened to change that, especially after Islamic State claimed responsibility and the evidence that a bomb — and not technical failure — destroyed the aircraft mounted.

Suddenly the Syria campaign wasn’t cost-free anymore.

So Russian state media did what came naturally: they blamed the West.

Sputnik got the ball rolling with a piece on November 6 claiming that “British officials have made an unseemly leap to speculate on a terrorist plot in the Russian airliner crash over Sinai last weekend.”

The story concluded: “The confidence by which these assessments of terror methodology are being made raises an even more troubling, darker question: was it really terrorists, or was it British MI6 agents palming the deed off as terrorists?”

On the same day, the conspiracy website WhatDoesItMean.com published an article claiming that Russia had captured two “CIA assets who are believed to have masterminded the downing of Flight 9268.”
__ Power Vertical

Since nothing gets published or goes on the air in Russia without tacit government approval, it seems that the Kremlin is floating some possible propaganda lines via unofficial outlets.

More knowledgeable people of high intelligence are unlikely to fall for such garbage. But large numbers of people — both inside and outside of Russia — live for conspiracy tales.

Writing on his blog, Anton Shekhovtvov, a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute and a research associate at the Kyiv-based Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation noted that “this version may seem absurd to everyone who is not prone to conspiracy theories, but it is also extremely dangerous. It means that, indeed, the consolidation of Putin’s criminal regime at home is far more important for the Kremlin than the international cooperation, and that Moscow is ready to escalate its war on the West.”
__ Power Vertical

If the Kremlin continues to pursue this line of anti-western conspiracy, there is likely to be significant fallout from both western channels who do not like to be blamed for such an outrageous crime, and from Islamist groups who will naturally feel disrespected by Russia — as if they are incapable of attacking Russian assets and people without western help!

Not a smart move.

The presence of Russian bombers and ground forces in Syria was intended to be a low-risk way of re-establishing Russia as a global power that is not afraid to act outside its traditional sphere of oppression. But once more, Putin appears to have bitten off more than he can chew.

Putin Lowers Bar for Invasion Protecting the Interests of Vodka Worldwide

Putin Lowers Bar for Invasion
Protecting the Interests of Vodka Worldwide

Putin Appears to be Gearing Up to Attack Belarus, and to Re-Inflame War Inside Ukraine

Can Putin be this stupid?

In a commentary for Radio Liberty’s Belarusian Service, Kaspruk argues that “if Putin begins thinking about opening a second front for an attack onUkraine, then it would not be possible for him to find a better place des armes for that than a Belarus occupied by Russia” (radiosvoboda.org/content/article/27347490.html).

Such a move, the Ukrainian political analyst says, would be extremely popular in Russia. “On a wave of hurrah patriotism, euphoria from ‘getting up from its knees,’ and the PR bombing in Syria, the consciousness of Russians has completely atrophied. Therefore it would support with joy the next political adventure of Putin – the return of Belarus ‘home’ to Russia.”

There are already signs that the Kremlin leader is preparing for just such a move. Kaspruk points to the attacks on Lukashenka that have appeared in Kremlin-controlled media and the dispatch already of “’little green men’ to Belarus under the guise of protecting Russian military objects on its territory.”

Such units could quickly link up with pro-Moscow officials and people in Belarus and then “take under their control state institutions and strategic objects in Mensk and key industrial cities.” After which time, a new government would declare that it wants to realize the ideas of the “union state” between Russia and Belarus by being absorbed by the Russian Federation. __ http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.cz/2015/11/moscow-seen-laying-groundwork-to-annex.html

It worked in Crimea. But it was unexpected. At this time, all of Russia’s neighbors are preparing for some type of Russian attack or invasion. The price for future invasions of conquest are apt to be much higher.

An expansion of violent Russian conquests in Eastern Europe is likely to draw stronger sanctions than Russia’s economy can withstand. Particularly in the face of oil prices that have proven so resistant to being driven higher.

Putin continues digging Russia into deeper and deeper holes — almost as if he has a “Jim Jones” complex, impersonating the mad delusional religious leader at the time just before he begins to hand out the Koolaid.

Putin must be strongly attracted to the idea of nuclear war, he and his cronies talk about the idea so much. Expect Kremlin nuclear war-talk to be ramped up to a higher level, if Putin chooses to grab part of Belarus as a launching-pad for enlarging the Ukraine conflict.

Those who so willingly kiss Putin’s nethers cannot be entirely sane, given recent developments and the likelihood of much worse in the future.

The USSR was able to succeed at such stunts as invading and occupying Eastern Europe. Russia has a much smaller population that is much older and less competent overall.

Russia is aging rapidly. Its working-age population is on track to shrink by 14% over the next 35 years, posing a real risk to economic growth.

“Russia will have the largest implosion of population in the history of the world,” Gundlach said last week at ETF.com’s Fixed Income Conference. The legendary investor said that’s excluding war, famine or disease.
__ http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/08/investing/russia-jeffrey-gundlach/

As Russia grows weaker, it will have increasing difficulty just keeping what it presently claims. By 2050, Russia’s population will be more than half Muslim, whose loyalties may stretch far and wide, distant from Moscow.

If Putin is doing all this to increase Russia’s population of ethnic Russians, he should simply offer stronger incentives for outland Russians to “move back” to Russia, or ramp up incentives for Russians to marry and have more children. Those are the best deals he will ever get on that front. And even then, he would be too late.

Choosing an enlarged invasion of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic states is something neither Putin nor Russia — as it currently exists — could survive.

What Is Living in Putin’s Head?

Russia’s isolationist economic policy is a combination of misguided protectionism, vindictiveness, espionage fears, financial management aimed at minimizing external risks and harsh police action. It has a certain consistency to it, and it is synchronized with relentless propaganda aimed at making Russians feel besieged by a hostile world.

More than anything else, it is a reflection of Putin’s views on everything from economics to geopolitics. Fortress Russia is in Putin’s head, and Russians, who are forced to pay for it with a drop in living standards — disposable incomes are down 3.3 percent in January through September — are OK for now with living within this mental construct. __ Japan Times

Russia was already in dangerous decline before Putin invaded Crimea and Ukraine. But after lower oil prices and western sanctions began to take the spring out of his step, Putin still started a new war in Syria — and ordinary Russians have already paid a painful price. That seems to be no concern of Putin’s, however.

Can Putin stop himself before he sets all of Eastern Europe on fire? He never has before. The organised crime state that he leads, shows no sign of stopping him. Things are likely to become interesting all over Asia and beyond.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood.

More: The future of Putin and his inner circle can be read from Russia’s past

More Russian Brain Drain:

Germany, the U.S. and Israel all report increases in the numbers of applications for immigration visas from Russia.

The Israeli Ministry of Absorption says applications for citizenship have doubled since the early 2000s and are up 30 percent since the last time Russia fell into recession in 2009.

___ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-21/putin-faces-growing-exodus-as-russia-s-banking-tech-pros-flee

…. Putin’s policy of isolation, confrontation and hunting down opposition groups has forced many to migrate to other parts of the world in search of better opportunities. However, the general preference has been migrating to the U.S., due to better work opportunities and higher pay.

___ http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/many-leaving-russia-to-come-to-the-u-s/

Russian mortality going up. Population of ethnic Russians to drop drastically before 2050 due to rapid decline of fertile females. More Muslims than ethnic Russians by 2050. The crisis point (civil war and dissolution) likely to hit sometime around 2030, if Putin does not reverse course and reduce corruption, oppression, and violent imperial expansion.

Analysts say Russia’s economic crisis is likely to affect both the rate of deaths and births. When times are tough, people tend to take less care of their health, so death rates rise. If people are uncertain about their financial future, birth rates fall.

___ http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/11/11/455318254/russias-demographics-a-problem-decades-in-the-making

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