Russians are a tough and hardy people who laugh at hardship. If essential services such as schools, road repairs, healthcare, and public toilets in the Moscow Metro have to be cut to pay for wars abroad, so be it.
Russians tell jokes about brain drain, capital flight, and a general lack of national fitness:
According to the story, a Russian commander told his subordinates that in any war with China, the quality of Russian forces will overcome the quantity of Chinese soldiers just as Israeli soldiers are regularly able to defeat more numerous Arab ones. Someone in his audience asked him: “but does Russia have enough Jews to win?”
And if the Chinese are suddenly studying to learn Finnish, Polish, Ukrainian, Estonian, and other border languages, Russians can laugh at that too.
Ordinary Russians take comfort in the knowledge that they — or at least their kind — will have the last laugh:
“In the past century, there wasn’t a single generation of Russian elites that left power voluntarily, that wasn’t killed, supplanted, exiled, or — at best — marginalized with contempt,” Gudkov wrote recently in the business daily Vedomosti.
“The elite basically resets to zero every 20-25 years, starting over with a clean slate. Before long, either red ink or blood is spilled all over that list.”
The Kremlin is kind enough to let the people know that although Russia may fall, it is certain to take the rest of the world with it:
There are many other ways in which Russians show their toughness and readiness to take on the rest of the world:
They are only stealing from themselves, since all of Russia is the state and the state is all of Russia. Where’s the harm?
And what is happening to all of those confiscated western food imports, now that the government has stopped publicly burning and bulldozing them?
Although the price of oil has not kept up with the price of Putin’s ambitions for Russia, the people understand that this is not Putin’s fault. Any man who can bareback-ride a grizzly bear with his bare chest gleaming is a man to be toasted with vodka or moonshine as often as possible.
What about the price of oil? Russians would be pleased to set oil production records and give the stuff away, just to prove that they could. If Putin thinks it best to sell the oil instead, well, he is the saviour.
Although Russia’s Muslims are becoming ruthlessly radicalised by life in Russia, and are threatening to enslave all of Russia’s women and girls, this does not bother the ordinary Russian in the slightest. They understand that the only terror attacks in Russia are those that Putin chooses to allow. Whatever Putin allows cannot be bad for Russia.
St. Petersburg Russians are taking to the rooftops in a display of high-minded bravery that defies the weaklings in the west — who tend to stay on surface roads, walkways, and railways.
A people who go roof-hopping to take their minds off of hardships below, will never surrender.
During the first eight months of this year, imports have declined by 39 percent while exports have dropped by almost 30 percent.
Ambitious Russian plans to modernise its military are falling on hard economic times. Again, Russians simply laugh.
“[Russian attempt to rebuild its military] is a reflection of Russia’s need to be seen as a great power,” said Alexei Arbatov, a strategic analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. But he noted that the ambitious construction plans have been complicated by the deepening economic crisis.
… Those constraints on Moscow’s ability to marshal foreign financing and components have compounded the blows dealt the Russian economy by oil prices that have fallen by half in the last 18 months. Russia depends on oil and natural gas sales for at least 50% of its annual budget, and the slumping commodities revenue has imposed social services cuts and fanned inflation.
Russia doesn’t need a new navy, army, air force, or missile force. Strength of will and trust in the motherland should be quite enough.
And should Russia’s GDP in terms of the $USD continue to shrink at current rates until it reaches that of the Netherlands — or even Norway — Russians can laugh at the idea of such puny nations comparing themselves to the mighty Russian Empire.
As long as Russians can watch their fearless leader on television, and drink cheap vodka or moonshine in unlimited quantities, everything will be fine. They can rest peacefully at night in the firm knowledge that if Russia wanted to, it could conquer the world. It really could.