More Years of Putin, More Celebrations of Past Glories
On 9 May, Russians will again celebrate a WWII victory over Nazi Germany. And they will also celebrate yet more years of Putin to come. The two things amount to the same thing, a fixed gaze into past years of Russian empire and glory. And for many Russians, that may be enough to satisfy the soul.
This week, Russia will spend millions of dollars to put up yet another WWII victory parade in the Red Square. Tanks will rumble and jets will fly overhead. Nuclear-capable ballistic missiles will slowly crawl past the same old mausoleum with the same old corpse inside. But what about the people watching? Some are clinging to old glory.
… Russia has roughly half the population it had a hundred years ago and in many metrics such as consumer goods production has yet to reach pre-revolutionary levels or levels that were achieved by Stalin’s GULAG slave labor in the 1930’s. [Is it possible that in] all ways that count, Russia is the sole loser of the Second World War[?] __ Source
Economically, Russia is doing worse than both its allies and its enemies of WWII. And much of the reason for that failure rests squarely on the shoulders of president-for-life Vladimir Putin. So what is it that Russians are actually celebrating?
More Years of Putin: What to Expect?
Putin has controlled the Russian state for roughly 20 years now. His first ten years in office were blessed by favorable economic conditions which allowed a broadly based uplift of economic conditions for most Russians. Oil & gas prices were high, and so were the hopes of the Russian people for a better life in a new millenium.
But in his dash for glory Putin tried to cash in on Russia’s accumulated wealth too soon, and the aftermath has not been pretty for the motherland or her people.
Our economic growth in the past decade has averaged less than 1 percent per year. How can we solve these issues of economic stagnation, sanctions and no investment? It looks like he’ll have to get [ex-Finance Minister Alexei] Kudrin, but Kudrin won’t be able to do much anyway because his hands are tied with Putin’s politics. The main problem for Putin is the economy. He can’t get anywhere with foreign policy because everyone already knows what to expect from him. __ MT
Russians are Leaving the Motherland
In dire economic straits, with little hope for the future, those Russians who have the skills and assets to relocate are either making contingency plans to do so, or are actually leaving.
Asylum applications to the USA by Russians spiked by 40% in 2017 from the previous year, and continue the climb that began back in 2012 when Putin ran again for the presidency after a term as prime minister when he exerted control from behind the scenes. Applications for asylum or for visas are just an early step in the process of emigration from Russia. But monitoring applications for residency is one way to gauge the disillusionment of Russians toward their lives at home.
So the best and the brightest, those who have traveled and seen the world, those who have the best ideas and want them to pursue them, just leave Russia.
… It’s not just oppression and insecurity that are driving Russians away from their beloved homeland. Many are worried about getting a good education for their children, unencumbered by Kremlin propaganda. Many fear their personal savings are being stolen, or their businesses could be “appropriated” by false criminal charges, a favored tactic of abusive officials. __ Source
Has Putin Shot His Wad?
For a decade now the military has not been attracting the kind of quality volunteers they had hoped to get and are lowering their standards in order to make their annual quotas. This just fills the ranks with more troublesome people, who cause more of the good troops to get out. In the last few years the military has quietly stopped accepting many volunteers or conscripts from Moslem areas, especially the Caucasus (especially Chechnya and Dagestan). The wisdom of this was made clear when Russian intelligence reported that the most effective Russian Moslems who joined and fought for Islamic terrorist groups were military veterans. In contrast Russian Moslems who had not served in the military were less likely to become Islamic terrorists… Because of higher birthrates among the Moslem populations nearly 15 percent of eligible conscripts are Moslems and that is seen as more of a problem. __ Strategy
In Crimea, east Ukraine, Syria, Moldova, Georgia, and elsewhere in his near abroad, Putin has exposed his declining military to the corrosive forces of actual combat. And time is not on the side of the Russian military.
But worse than the unstoppable decline of Russia’s military are the direct consequences to Russia’s economy from Putin’s international imprudence. His timing was bad — to say the least. And so we see an ongoing decline in critical Russian infrastructures, from education to healthcare to transportation to manufacturing to space industries to the dependency on foreign oil services companies to produce Russia’s oil & gas — the very lifeblood of Russia. And beneath it all is the inexorable demographic decline of Russia — and not only in terms of population numbers and distribution.
Demographics is about far more than population — otherwise why use the word “demographics” at all? Just use population and save a keystroke and the terminal lisp. No, demographics is about the changing numbers, distributions, sub-populations, and many other attributes which reflect upon the quality of the populations involved (age, sex, income, education, iq, etc), as well as time trends that influence all of these numbers and attributes.
More Years of Putin, More Fixation on Past Glories
Putin has little left to offer to the Russian people, other than pageants, parades, and the promise of future suffering in order to pay for the costly diversions from reality of the present and the past.
Meanwhile, to the southeast, Russia’s true enemy (frenemy) is quietly taking over control of the Russian Far East and other parts of Siberia — out of necessity as well as out of a sense of historical justice. As time goes by we will see who is the better magician of misdirection — Mr. Putin or Mr. Xi.