Once upon a time, the story of Fortress Russia facing a hostile world was a convenient fairy tale the Kremlin used to mobilize the public.
Today, the fairy tale is quickly becoming a reality. As a result of the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, this well-worn narrative of an isolated Russia staring down the world has come to life.
“Putin’s Russia is not exactly weak, it’s just alone and unloved after alienating even potential friends,” political commentator Leonid Bershidsky wrote for Bloomberg. __ A Splendid Isolation?
Is Russia Isolated?
Increasingly, that seems to be the case. Cut off from much of the world’s trade and banking, involved in covert wars against three of its neighbors, and alienating more trading partners by the day — Russia’s isolation is growing.
“From the Second Chechen War, to the Russia-Georgia War, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, Moscow has relied heavily the use of military force to secure political objectives,” writes Michael Kofman, a fellow at the Kennan Institute and an analyst at CNA Corporation. “This is a reflection of the limited repertoire of Russia’s national power toolkit. Wanting in allies, economic leverage, and position in the international system, Russia will grow only more dependent on the use of force to change facts on the ground in its favor, with Syria being the latest example.” – See more at: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/russia-belligerence-easy-peacemaking-tough#sthash.wxPFaBt1.dpuf
Russia is engaging in economic embargo against Turkey, but once again the bear seems to be shooting itself in the foot:
Turkey was by far the biggest tourist destination for Russians last year, attracting 3.3 million visitors, almost 19 percent of the Russian tourists who traveled overseas. Turkish resorts made billions, but losing this trade won’t be a matter of life and death for the industry. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, last July, at the height of the tourist season, Turkey received 686,256 Russian visitors and almost 3.1 million from Europe. __ http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-30/putin-takes-ineffectual-aim-at-turkey
But Russia is Still “a World Power”
Russians are more convinced than at any time in recent history that their country is a great power, as enthusiasm over military campaigns in Ukraine and Syria seems to outweigh worries about a deep economic slump.
Sixty-five percent of Russians surveyed by the independent Levada Center pollster said Russia was a great power, compared to 25 percent who disagreed. __ Russia Great Power
This survey may provide a better idea of the level of support for Putin, than other surveys. To get the true opinion of a Russian inside the milieu of paranoia under Putin, one must often beat about the bush.
Certainly Russia still has its nukes, such as they are. And Russia can still devastate its neighbors at will, for now.
To many Russians — still living inside Russia and necessarily drunk on cheap spirits — Putin’s abandonment of international law probably seems rather liberating.
“Russia’s new course means it is free from any and all influences and restrictions,” Frolov wrote. “This freedom means that Russia does not need to abide by international law…and that Russia’s claims to a leading role in the world cannot be contained.” __ http://www.rferl.org/content/russis-not-so-splendid-isolation/27400469.html
Another Russian winter is descending upon a long-suffering nation. Although a few peeps of dissent still escape the media filters, for the most part the Russian people are choosing to suffer in silence.
Brain drain, capital flight, womb drain, crumbling infrastructure, depopulation of Siberia by “ethnic Russians,” spiraling rates of HIV and other fatal infections, drug-alcohol-suicide epidemics, mortality rates worsening once again, a shrinking of the proportion of “ethnic Russians” in overall populations — all combined with economic sanctions, low oil prices, increasing isolation, and a dawning sense of threat along the Chinese border — and one must eventually admit that there is only so much joy to be derived from a combination of cheap moonshine and a liberating romp all over international law.
Russia’s shrinking economy is now cutting into its military budgets. What else will Russia be forced to sell, and at what risk to Russia’s future?
Mysterious links between ISIS and Russian sisters in California shooting spree. Russian authorities have been encouraging Russian troublemakers to join ISIS. Russian bombing in Syria has often avoided ISIS altogether in order to bomb western allies. Mysterious . . .