Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Analysis of Former Soviet Union | Forums

  1. #1
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    Net Assessment: Former Soviet Union -- In Search of Revival



    The states that once comprised the Soviet Union continue to
    decline on all levels: Temporary economic successes cannot halt a
    downslide that began during the final years of the socialist
    republic. Moscow alone is trying to generate momentum toward
    regional revival through stronger ties with Europe. There appears
    to be a growing consensus in Moscow that not only is it
    impossible to retreat further geopolitically, but also that to
    survive as a regional power and to be able to defend its vast
    perimeter, Russia must pursue at least a modestly expansionist
    policy.

    Given the weakness of all erstwhile Soviet states, including
    Russia, the door is open for outside powers to step up pressure
    on the region. The United States, Europe, China, Turkey, Saudi
    Arabia, Iran and Islamic militant groups are all expanding their
    political clout there. The future of all the former republics
    will depend on whether Russia, the only post-Soviet heavyweight,
    can pull them out of the quagmire. Given the region's history of
    repeated revivals under challenging circumstances, the former
    Soviet Union (FSU) just might have a chance to retain its status
    as a global player with which to contend.


    Potentially Valuable but Tough Terrain

    Geography has been more of a liability than an advantage for the
    FSU. To begin with, the fact that the post-Soviet space occupies
    what might be the world's most strategic location has made it an
    arena for fighting for thousands of years.

    The sheer vastness and the ethnic diversity of the region make
    foreign relations difficult to manage. The fact that many
    neighboring states and distant powers alike have diverse, often
    conflicting, agendas in the region only adds to that challenge,
    as does the need to protect thousands of miles of borders. On the
    positive side, however, it is hard for an outsider to conquer
    such a vast territory -- a fact that Napoleon, Hitler and others
    learned too well and too late.

    The climate itself threatens the former Soviet republics' chances
    of ever attaining the standards of productivity and economic
    efficiency seen in developed countries. Its location in the
    northern latitudes means that most industries must exert greater
    effort than more southerly countries to produce or extract a unit
    of any product. For this reason, Russian and even Caspian oil
    exploration, extraction, refining and transportation are doomed
    to be significantly more costly than in the Middle East.

    Although Russia has access to three oceans, it lies too far north
    to succeed as a sea power: Most of its seaports and naval bases
    are iced in for months at a time. Thus, sea powers such as the
    United States and Britain always will have an advantage over the
    FSU, including Russia, in naval power and, therefore, in
    projecting global power.


    Is It Good To Be Rich in Resources?

    The post-Soviet space is probably the world's richest region in
    terms of natural resources. Someday, its combined estimated oil
    and gas resources might surpass those of the Persian Gulf.
    Ukraine's black soils are unparalleled as arable land; the future
    of the world's timber and wood-processing industry is tied to
    vast territories covered with taiga -- seemingly endless virgin
    coniferous forests -- in eastern Russia. And if clean, drinkable
    water eventually becomes the world's most precious commodity,
    Russia could draw upon Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, in
    eastern Siberia: It contains more potable water than all of the
    world's other lakes combined.

    Used effectively, any one of these natural resources has the
    potential to make the state or group of states that owns it a
    powerful world player. So far, however, the former Soviet
    republics have done a poor job of taking advantage of them.
    Although the high price of oil has helped keep the economies of
    the oil-rich states in the region afloat for the past several
    years, little can be said about positive effects of the abundance
    of natural resources in the post-Soviet space. On the contrary,
    the former Soviet republics have chosen to implement more
    complicated means of production in virtually all sectors, with
    poor efficiency across the board.

    Also, although plentiful minerals and other resources have the
    potential to attract outside investment and, in turn, to boost
    local economies, they also could attract foreign governments
    seeking to control those -- thus potentially adding to the
    region's security risks. Conflicts among former Soviet states
    over resources located along shared borders, such as in the
    Caspian Sea, are also possible. Tensions already exist among some
    Central Asian states over scarce resources such as water,
    electricity and gas.


    Twelve Years of Decline

    Overall, the former Soviet republics have made no meaningful
    economic or geopolitical advances since the fall of the Soviet
    Union about 12 years ago. In fact, many of them resemble
    developing nations. In Russia, living standards, among other
    economic measures, have dropped to "Third World" levels. For the
    former Soviet states, shipping ever-increasing volumes of oil to
    the West is bringing their economic status closer to that of
    Equatorial Guinea than to that of the United Arab Emirates: The
    profits are not being used to raise living standards, nor to
    build up other industrial sectors. Russia and the other former
    Soviet republics are simply very weak and on the slow but sure
    path to further decay and possible collapse.

    Russia alone has gained a measure of economic security, thanks to
    the high price of oil, but it remains very vulnerable, since
    global oil prices are beyond Moscow's control. Foreign
    investment, meanwhile, remains too low to spur the economy -- a
    situation that will endure until legal and economic reforms can
    improve what is now a somewhat chaotic environment. Investment in
    production, especially in the manufacturing sector, is dropping
    steadily. Businesses suffer a chronic shortage of capital, and
    while real production (except in the energy sector) dwindles,
    imports rise. All exports other than those of natural resources
    are falling. Within the decade, the production facilities
    comprising the bulk of what the former republics own will become
    too old to function. This situation is serious, since thus far
    virtually no new facilities and equipment have been built to
    replace them.

    It is not only the Russian economy that is in decline. So too is
    the country's population, which is shrinking by almost 1 million
    people per year. The ailing infrastructure; failing social
    system; rising drug use; growing incidence of AIDS, tuberculosis
    and other diseases and people-trafficking, slavery and other such
    problems all contribute to what is a systemic crisis. The
    military-industrial complex, too, is being downsized: In 2004,
    the government will reduce spending on the military-industrial
    complex by half the amount requested by the Defense Ministry and
    planned by the Cabinet.

    In Russia, the flight of natural and human resources as well as
    capital -- to the tune of $30 billion per year, according to
    Interpol sources -- is a steady trend. Corruption and organized
    crime have reached epic proportions: In 2003, 93 of the Duma's
    450 members reportedly were under criminal investigation at the
    time of their election, and many had criminal records. For now,
    parliamentary immunity has put a halt to all investigations.
    According to documents circulated within the Duma, Russian
    officials gain $40 billion through corruption. There are about
    10,000 organized crime groups that, having divided the whole
    country into various territories, take "protection" money from
    state and private enterprises and from foreign businesses. A
    source on a Russian legislative committee on internal law
    enforcement and security says that 16 percent of police officers
    are paid by criminal groups to participate in illegal activities,
    such as extortion and fabricating or closing criminal cases. The
    situation is mirrored throughout most of the former Soviet
    republics.


    The Russian Federation: More Splintering?

    The Russian Federation runs the risk of breaking up into smaller
    entities. If Russia eventually loses the war in Chechnya -- or if
    that battle drags on for too long -- separatists in other parts
    of the country likely will rally, eventually spelling the end of
    the federation. The potential for secession is developing in
    Dagestan and in other Muslim-dominated republics in the North
    Caucasus. There is also a chance that the Kuril Islands and the
    Kaliningrad region might have to be turned over to other
    countries. However, the surest sign that the Russian federation
    might split up is the fact that regions with ethnic-Russian
    majorities show tendencies toward secession. These include
    Primorsky Krai -- which encompasses Vladivostok -- Magadan and
    Sakhalin Island.

    Moldova is still not united, Georgia is breaking apart and
    Azerbaijan is dealing with secessionist movements among its
    ethnic minorities. In Ukraine, the political divide between the
    west and the rest remains serious, resulting in the possibility
    that the country might split apart along the former Russia-
    Austria border.

    The idea of a "Commonwealth of Independent States" remains mostly
    just that: a concept. The only organization for integration that
    still has a chance to succeed is the Eurasian Common Economic
    Space, which comprises the four most geopolitically important
    republics in the region: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.


    Pressure Builds From Outside

    Given the region's state of weakness, external players are
    looking to fill the power vacuum. These include the United
    States, Europe, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Islamic
    militants.

    The United States has become the most influential foreign power
    in the region, with Russia now second. China is building
    influence in Central Asia and is slowly expanding economically
    and demographically into the Russian Far East. Ankara has made
    strides in relations with Central Asia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,
    Ukraine and Moldova.

    Although the threat in Russia from Islamic militants is
    immediate, the U.S. push into the post-Soviet space remains the
    long-term strategic challenge for Russia, Belarus and
    Turkmenistan. Moscow and Washington do not see eye-to-eye on some
    key foreign and security policies -- including matters such as
    Iraq -- and they likely will have disagreements in the future.
    Therefore, NATO's eastward expansion and the stationing of U.S.
    forces in several former Soviet states could undermine Russia's
    national security. Nevertheless, Moscow's strategic nuclear
    arsenal, while it exists, guarantees that Washington, Beijing and
    other world players will not completely write off the country.

    Meanwhile, among the other former Soviet states, the struggle to
    decide between alignment with Russia and the United States is
    being replaced by the challenge of deciding between a pro-
    European and a pro-U.S. course. Because of fresh ties with Paris
    and Berlin and its serious disagreements with Washington on
    important security and foreign policy matters, Moscow is steering
    more decidedly toward greater alignment with the European Union;
    the other former Soviet republics are trying to befriend both
    camps.


    Weak Borders

    The Russian Federation cannot survive for long under current
    conditions. The combination of continued economic and social
    decline, the likelihood of political fragmentation and the
    growing pressure from external players eventually will lead it to
    repeat the fate of the original Soviet Union.

    If Russia loses the war in Chechnya, its disintegration as a
    federation is all but assured. Russia has not been able to cut
    off supply lines to Chechen militants from two sources: organized
    crime groups from the former Soviet republics and Wahhabi Muslim
    organizations originating in the Middle East. These lines of
    supply will remain functional until Russia retakes control of
    some of the predominantly Muslim regions of the former Soviet
    Union. In particular, Moscow has to regain some control over
    Georgia and Azerbaijan, through which supplies flow to Chechen
    militants. Only this would guarantee that Russia would not lose
    the war in Chechnya.

    Russia's long and porous southern border, which lacks natural
    barriers and defense fortifications, currently cannot be
    defended: Islamists from the Middle East and Central Asia easily
    surf through sparsely populated Kazakhstan and directly into
    Russia, from the Volga Region to Siberia. And these groups are
    working to coordinate their efforts: The Islamic Movement of
    Turkmenistan was recently formed, along the lines of the Islamic
    Movement of Uzbekistan. Also, another global Islamist group,
    Hizb-ut-Tahrir, has become the most popular radical group among
    the Central Asian populace.

    Russia's western borders, 80 miles from St. Petersburg and 240
    miles from Moscow, are also poorly protected and easily
    penetrated by foreign spies, militants and other destabilizing
    elements. And if a major conflict with NATO were to erupt in the
    future, Russia would not be able to defend its capital, which
    lies close to the western border.


    What Path Will the Republics Take?

    Given all of these factors, it is likely that whoever is in power
    in Moscow will try to reverse the decline and restore some degree
    of influence within the former Soviet Union -- not necessarily by
    depriving the republics of independence but by reinstating some
    degree of Russian influence and control. Stratfor sources
    indicate that within the Russia national security establishment,
    a consensus is emerging that not only is there no way to retreat
    further geopolitically without risking the state's long-term
    cohesiveness, but also that Russia's borders are not defensible
    under current circumstances. The general notion gaining ground is
    that to survive as a regional power, Russia should pursue at
    least a modest expansionist policy.

    Of course, Russia and the region as a whole still have the
    potential to regain some ground economically, politically and in
    terms of self-defense. Russia still has great intellectual
    potential, as well as a history of quickly spearheading the
    turnaround of its military-industrial complex -- even though its
    civilian sectors might lag far behind. Russian weapons systems,
    even some that were merely test versions, rank among the world's
    best.

    The former Soviet states so far have made little effort, overall,
    to reverse their fortunes, although Russian President Vladimir
    Putin is trying to lead an effort to regain some of his country's
    former prominence. His efforts do not imply that the general
    orientation toward the West and the implementation of market
    reforms will be reversed -- or at least not now, when the major
    changes being attempted are reining in the oligarchs and building
    closer ties with Europe. The trick for Moscow lies in reforming
    or removing the oligarchs without upsetting the only recently
    obtained re-entrance of foreign capital and technology into the
    state's economy.

    The oligarchs and the so-called New Russians, who have stashed
    billions of dollars in Western banks and have bought Western
    properties and businesses, are not helping the economies of their
    home countries. The rest of the populace in the former Soviet
    republics lacks the capital to make meaningful positive changes
    in their economies.

    The struggle between those who prefer the status quo -- the
    oligarchs are among them -- and those who want to see change is
    beginning to take shape in some of the former Soviet states. In
    Russia, it is taking the form of confrontation between oligarchs
    and Putin, who is supported by some in the national security
    establishment. The government seems to support the combination of
    open-market policies and state capitalism to offset what is
    called the "wild market" preferred by the oligarchs.

    The populace by far supports this fledgling policy, although it
    is not yet clear how far Putin will pursue it. For many Russian
    citizens, the struggle for revival ties into a slowly growing
    perception that external forces, particularly the United States,
    are subjugating the country.

    Putin and his inner circle represent a moderate faction of those
    trying to revive the country as the regional hegemon, but more
    radical ideas do exist among the opposition in Russia and in
    other former Soviet republics. Among the radicals, hope for
    integrating and reviving the former Soviet states lies in
    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

    Polls by the Russian Federal Security Service -- the results of
    which remain unavailable to the public -- indicate that if
    presidential elections were held in a united Russia and Belarus
    this year, Lukashenko easily would win -- precisely because of
    his radical approach toward restoring the former might of the old
    Soviet Union.

    "The submergence of self in the pursuit of an ideal, the readiness to spend oneself without measure, prodigally, almost ecstatically, for something intuitively apprehended as great and noble, spend oneself, one knows not why, - some of us like to believe that this is what religion means. "
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  2. #2
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    Net Assessment: Former Soviet Union -- In Search of Revival



    The states that once comprised the Soviet Union continue to
    decline on all levels: Temporary economic successes cannot halt a
    downslide that began during the final years of the socialist
    republic. Moscow alone is trying to generate momentum toward
    regional revival through stronger ties with Europe. There appears
    to be a growing consensus in Moscow that not only is it
    impossible to retreat further geopolitically, but also that to
    survive as a regional power and to be able to defend its vast
    perimeter, Russia must pursue at least a modestly expansionist
    policy.

    Given the weakness of all erstwhile Soviet states, including
    Russia, the door is open for outside powers to step up pressure
    on the region. The United States, Europe, China, Turkey, Saudi
    Arabia, Iran and Islamic militant groups are all expanding their
    political clout there. The future of all the former republics
    will depend on whether Russia, the only post-Soviet heavyweight,
    can pull them out of the quagmire. Given the region's history of
    repeated revivals under challenging circumstances, the former
    Soviet Union (FSU) just might have a chance to retain its status
    as a global player with which to contend.


    Potentially Valuable but Tough Terrain

    Geography has been more of a liability than an advantage for the
    FSU. To begin with, the fact that the post-Soviet space occupies
    what might be the world's most strategic location has made it an
    arena for fighting for thousands of years.

    The sheer vastness and the ethnic diversity of the region make
    foreign relations difficult to manage. The fact that many
    neighboring states and distant powers alike have diverse, often
    conflicting, agendas in the region only adds to that challenge,
    as does the need to protect thousands of miles of borders. On the
    positive side, however, it is hard for an outsider to conquer
    such a vast territory -- a fact that Napoleon, Hitler and others
    learned too well and too late.

    The climate itself threatens the former Soviet republics' chances
    of ever attaining the standards of productivity and economic
    efficiency seen in developed countries. Its location in the
    northern latitudes means that most industries must exert greater
    effort than more southerly countries to produce or extract a unit
    of any product. For this reason, Russian and even Caspian oil
    exploration, extraction, refining and transportation are doomed
    to be significantly more costly than in the Middle East.

    Although Russia has access to three oceans, it lies too far north
    to succeed as a sea power: Most of its seaports and naval bases
    are iced in for months at a time. Thus, sea powers such as the
    United States and Britain always will have an advantage over the
    FSU, including Russia, in naval power and, therefore, in
    projecting global power.


    Is It Good To Be Rich in Resources?

    The post-Soviet space is probably the world's richest region in
    terms of natural resources. Someday, its combined estimated oil
    and gas resources might surpass those of the Persian Gulf.
    Ukraine's black soils are unparalleled as arable land; the future
    of the world's timber and wood-processing industry is tied to
    vast territories covered with taiga -- seemingly endless virgin
    coniferous forests -- in eastern Russia. And if clean, drinkable
    water eventually becomes the world's most precious commodity,
    Russia could draw upon Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, in
    eastern Siberia: It contains more potable water than all of the
    world's other lakes combined.

    Used effectively, any one of these natural resources has the
    potential to make the state or group of states that owns it a
    powerful world player. So far, however, the former Soviet
    republics have done a poor job of taking advantage of them.
    Although the high price of oil has helped keep the economies of
    the oil-rich states in the region afloat for the past several
    years, little can be said about positive effects of the abundance
    of natural resources in the post-Soviet space. On the contrary,
    the former Soviet republics have chosen to implement more
    complicated means of production in virtually all sectors, with
    poor efficiency across the board.

    Also, although plentiful minerals and other resources have the
    potential to attract outside investment and, in turn, to boost
    local economies, they also could attract foreign governments
    seeking to control those -- thus potentially adding to the
    region's security risks. Conflicts among former Soviet states
    over resources located along shared borders, such as in the
    Caspian Sea, are also possible. Tensions already exist among some
    Central Asian states over scarce resources such as water,
    electricity and gas.


    Twelve Years of Decline

    Overall, the former Soviet republics have made no meaningful
    economic or geopolitical advances since the fall of the Soviet
    Union about 12 years ago. In fact, many of them resemble
    developing nations. In Russia, living standards, among other
    economic measures, have dropped to "Third World" levels. For the
    former Soviet states, shipping ever-increasing volumes of oil to
    the West is bringing their economic status closer to that of
    Equatorial Guinea than to that of the United Arab Emirates: The
    profits are not being used to raise living standards, nor to
    build up other industrial sectors. Russia and the other former
    Soviet republics are simply very weak and on the slow but sure
    path to further decay and possible collapse.

    Russia alone has gained a measure of economic security, thanks to
    the high price of oil, but it remains very vulnerable, since
    global oil prices are beyond Moscow's control. Foreign
    investment, meanwhile, remains too low to spur the economy -- a
    situation that will endure until legal and economic reforms can
    improve what is now a somewhat chaotic environment. Investment in
    production, especially in the manufacturing sector, is dropping
    steadily. Businesses suffer a chronic shortage of capital, and
    while real production (except in the energy sector) dwindles,
    imports rise. All exports other than those of natural resources
    are falling. Within the decade, the production facilities
    comprising the bulk of what the former republics own will become
    too old to function. This situation is serious, since thus far
    virtually no new facilities and equipment have been built to
    replace them.

    It is not only the Russian economy that is in decline. So too is
    the country's population, which is shrinking by almost 1 million
    people per year. The ailing infrastructure; failing social
    system; rising drug use; growing incidence of AIDS, tuberculosis
    and other diseases and people-trafficking, slavery and other such
    problems all contribute to what is a systemic crisis. The
    military-industrial complex, too, is being downsized: In 2004,
    the government will reduce spending on the military-industrial
    complex by half the amount requested by the Defense Ministry and
    planned by the Cabinet.

    In Russia, the flight of natural and human resources as well as
    capital -- to the tune of $30 billion per year, according to
    Interpol sources -- is a steady trend. Corruption and organized
    crime have reached epic proportions: In 2003, 93 of the Duma's
    450 members reportedly were under criminal investigation at the
    time of their election, and many had criminal records. For now,
    parliamentary immunity has put a halt to all investigations.
    According to documents circulated within the Duma, Russian
    officials gain $40 billion through corruption. There are about
    10,000 organized crime groups that, having divided the whole
    country into various territories, take "protection" money from
    state and private enterprises and from foreign businesses. A
    source on a Russian legislative committee on internal law
    enforcement and security says that 16 percent of police officers
    are paid by criminal groups to participate in illegal activities,
    such as extortion and fabricating or closing criminal cases. The
    situation is mirrored throughout most of the former Soviet
    republics.


    The Russian Federation: More Splintering?

    The Russian Federation runs the risk of breaking up into smaller
    entities. If Russia eventually loses the war in Chechnya -- or if
    that battle drags on for too long -- separatists in other parts
    of the country likely will rally, eventually spelling the end of
    the federation. The potential for secession is developing in
    Dagestan and in other Muslim-dominated republics in the North
    Caucasus. There is also a chance that the Kuril Islands and the
    Kaliningrad region might have to be turned over to other
    countries. However, the surest sign that the Russian federation
    might split up is the fact that regions with ethnic-Russian
    majorities show tendencies toward secession. These include
    Primorsky Krai -- which encompasses Vladivostok -- Magadan and
    Sakhalin Island.

    Moldova is still not united, Georgia is breaking apart and
    Azerbaijan is dealing with secessionist movements among its
    ethnic minorities. In Ukraine, the political divide between the
    west and the rest remains serious, resulting in the possibility
    that the country might split apart along the former Russia-
    Austria border.

    The idea of a "Commonwealth of Independent States" remains mostly
    just that: a concept. The only organization for integration that
    still has a chance to succeed is the Eurasian Common Economic
    Space, which comprises the four most geopolitically important
    republics in the region: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.


    Pressure Builds From Outside

    Given the region's state of weakness, external players are
    looking to fill the power vacuum. These include the United
    States, Europe, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Islamic
    militants.

    The United States has become the most influential foreign power
    in the region, with Russia now second. China is building
    influence in Central Asia and is slowly expanding economically
    and demographically into the Russian Far East. Ankara has made
    strides in relations with Central Asia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,
    Ukraine and Moldova.

    Although the threat in Russia from Islamic militants is
    immediate, the U.S. push into the post-Soviet space remains the
    long-term strategic challenge for Russia, Belarus and
    Turkmenistan. Moscow and Washington do not see eye-to-eye on some
    key foreign and security policies -- including matters such as
    Iraq -- and they likely will have disagreements in the future.
    Therefore, NATO's eastward expansion and the stationing of U.S.
    forces in several former Soviet states could undermine Russia's
    national security. Nevertheless, Moscow's strategic nuclear
    arsenal, while it exists, guarantees that Washington, Beijing and
    other world players will not completely write off the country.

    Meanwhile, among the other former Soviet states, the struggle to
    decide between alignment with Russia and the United States is
    being replaced by the challenge of deciding between a pro-
    European and a pro-U.S. course. Because of fresh ties with Paris
    and Berlin and its serious disagreements with Washington on
    important security and foreign policy matters, Moscow is steering
    more decidedly toward greater alignment with the European Union;
    the other former Soviet republics are trying to befriend both
    camps.


    Weak Borders

    The Russian Federation cannot survive for long under current
    conditions. The combination of continued economic and social
    decline, the likelihood of political fragmentation and the
    growing pressure from external players eventually will lead it to
    repeat the fate of the original Soviet Union.

    If Russia loses the war in Chechnya, its disintegration as a
    federation is all but assured. Russia has not been able to cut
    off supply lines to Chechen militants from two sources: organized
    crime groups from the former Soviet republics and Wahhabi Muslim
    organizations originating in the Middle East. These lines of
    supply will remain functional until Russia retakes control of
    some of the predominantly Muslim regions of the former Soviet
    Union. In particular, Moscow has to regain some control over
    Georgia and Azerbaijan, through which supplies flow to Chechen
    militants. Only this would guarantee that Russia would not lose
    the war in Chechnya.

    Russia's long and porous southern border, which lacks natural
    barriers and defense fortifications, currently cannot be
    defended: Islamists from the Middle East and Central Asia easily
    surf through sparsely populated Kazakhstan and directly into
    Russia, from the Volga Region to Siberia. And these groups are
    working to coordinate their efforts: The Islamic Movement of
    Turkmenistan was recently formed, along the lines of the Islamic
    Movement of Uzbekistan. Also, another global Islamist group,
    Hizb-ut-Tahrir, has become the most popular radical group among
    the Central Asian populace.

    Russia's western borders, 80 miles from St. Petersburg and 240
    miles from Moscow, are also poorly protected and easily
    penetrated by foreign spies, militants and other destabilizing
    elements. And if a major conflict with NATO were to erupt in the
    future, Russia would not be able to defend its capital, which
    lies close to the western border.


    What Path Will the Republics Take?

    Given all of these factors, it is likely that whoever is in power
    in Moscow will try to reverse the decline and restore some degree
    of influence within the former Soviet Union -- not necessarily by
    depriving the republics of independence but by reinstating some
    degree of Russian influence and control. Stratfor sources
    indicate that within the Russia national security establishment,
    a consensus is emerging that not only is there no way to retreat
    further geopolitically without risking the state's long-term
    cohesiveness, but also that Russia's borders are not defensible
    under current circumstances. The general notion gaining ground is
    that to survive as a regional power, Russia should pursue at
    least a modest expansionist policy.

    Of course, Russia and the region as a whole still have the
    potential to regain some ground economically, politically and in
    terms of self-defense. Russia still has great intellectual
    potential, as well as a history of quickly spearheading the
    turnaround of its military-industrial complex -- even though its
    civilian sectors might lag far behind. Russian weapons systems,
    even some that were merely test versions, rank among the world's
    best.

    The former Soviet states so far have made little effort, overall,
    to reverse their fortunes, although Russian President Vladimir
    Putin is trying to lead an effort to regain some of his country's
    former prominence. His efforts do not imply that the general
    orientation toward the West and the implementation of market
    reforms will be reversed -- or at least not now, when the major
    changes being attempted are reining in the oligarchs and building
    closer ties with Europe. The trick for Moscow lies in reforming
    or removing the oligarchs without upsetting the only recently
    obtained re-entrance of foreign capital and technology into the
    state's economy.

    The oligarchs and the so-called New Russians, who have stashed
    billions of dollars in Western banks and have bought Western
    properties and businesses, are not helping the economies of their
    home countries. The rest of the populace in the former Soviet
    republics lacks the capital to make meaningful positive changes
    in their economies.

    The struggle between those who prefer the status quo -- the
    oligarchs are among them -- and those who want to see change is
    beginning to take shape in some of the former Soviet states. In
    Russia, it is taking the form of confrontation between oligarchs
    and Putin, who is supported by some in the national security
    establishment. The government seems to support the combination of
    open-market policies and state capitalism to offset what is
    called the "wild market" preferred by the oligarchs.

    The populace by far supports this fledgling policy, although it
    is not yet clear how far Putin will pursue it. For many Russian
    citizens, the struggle for revival ties into a slowly growing
    perception that external forces, particularly the United States,
    are subjugating the country.

    Putin and his inner circle represent a moderate faction of those
    trying to revive the country as the regional hegemon, but more
    radical ideas do exist among the opposition in Russia and in
    other former Soviet republics. Among the radicals, hope for
    integrating and reviving the former Soviet states lies in
    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

    Polls by the Russian Federal Security Service -- the results of
    which remain unavailable to the public -- indicate that if
    presidential elections were held in a united Russia and Belarus
    this year, Lukashenko easily would win -- precisely because of
    his radical approach toward restoring the former might of the old
    Soviet Union.

    "The submergence of self in the pursuit of an ideal, the readiness to spend oneself without measure, prodigally, almost ecstatically, for something intuitively apprehended as great and noble, spend oneself, one knows not why, - some of us like to believe that this is what religion means. "
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  3. #3
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    Sounds like the introduction to a strategy game.

    <font color="red">Liberal Weenies! Tell it to someone who cares! Howard Dean perhaps?</font>

    The All-Seeing eye.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  4. #4
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    i think that this was written by a pessemist. first of all how does one make a leap from losing in Chechnya to the break up of Russia? so Kaliningrad leaves? so what?! its smaller than Israel and is already seperate from Russia geographically (its surrounded by other nations).

    the economic situation is not as bleak as the article portrays: industrial production in august was up 5.5% compared to last year. The GDP growth is 7.2%, over the past 5 years the most successful American mutual fund has been ING's Russian fund (up 52%). the stock market is up 66% from last year. oil prices most likely will not decline in the near future- another positive.

    of course there are many negatives, inflation must be brought down (currently at 13.3%) if it is controlled then interest rates may be lowered (currently at 16%) so that business can have access to capital. corruption must be fought, right now its ranked as the 86th least corrupt (according to Transparency International) nation in the world falling from 71 a year ago (Finland is least corrupt at #1, US is #18, South Korea #50). obviously the society needs to be made more healthy, some signs that this is occuring are evident, Putin discussed launching a nationwide AIDS education campaign (something unthinkable a few years ago), the birth rate needs to increase (this is also happening as the economy is getting stronger, i cant find the article right now but i guess youll just have to take my word for it).

    the reduction in military funding is part of the military reorgonisation. Putin wants to move the army to a proffesional system and reduce the number of active soldiers, thus cutting costs and (hopefully) improving training and combat effectiveness.

    the key is obviously the economy, a strong economy will lead to a strong society, military and a stable political system. besides lowering the interest rates Russia needs to diversify away from oil, the software industry is growing (part of the trend that is taking US high tech jobs to China, India and Russia).

    even in its weakened state, i doubt any country is insane enough to try to attack Russia as this article seems to suggest is possible.

    edit: pundits have been prophesizing Russia's collapse for centuries, yet it survives. i think it will continue to survive, its lived through far worse before.
    _______________________________________

    "Generals dont run; during peace this prompts laughter, during war this prompts panic."

    Message Edited on 10/15/0308:10PM by Olegious
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  5. #5
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    Olegious,

    Dude, you just kicked ***. That's the kind of attitude that gets things done. [img]/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif[/img]

    <font color="red">Liberal Weenies! Tell it to someone who cares! Howard Dean perhaps?</font>

    The All-Seeing eye.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  6. #6
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    thanks, btw, ive been meaning to tell you, your sig is really disturbing.

    _______________________________________

    "Generals dont run; during peace this prompts laughter, during war this prompts panic."
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  7. #7
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    LMAO! Someone dared me to scan my eye and they're not very wide so a had to hold my eye-lid open, that's half the reason it looks so strange. I've been planning on getting rid of it for a while, I'm not that fond of it. [img]/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif[/img]

    <font color="red">Liberal Weenies! Tell it to someone who cares! Howard Dean perhaps?</font>

    The All-Seeing eye.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  8. #8
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    Geist, where did you get this?


    _______________________________________

    "Generals dont run; during peace this prompts laughter, during war this prompts panic."
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  9. #9
    XyZspineZyX
    Guest
    From a strategy think tank. They do some very good work sometimes.

    "The submergence of self in the pursuit of an ideal, the readiness to spend oneself without measure, prodigally, almost ecstatically, for something intuitively apprehended as great and noble, spend oneself, one knows not why, - some of us like to believe that this is what religion means. "
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •