Russia will soon cease to be a world power? - 2007

The stupidity of the mainstream news press in the West has been breathtaking lately. There have been a rash of anti-Russian articles and reports coming out of western capitols, particularly from London and Washington. I have posted two of the news articles in question. Reading these news reports one gets the sense that: the Russian Federation is on the verge of total collapse; anarchy runs rampant in Russia; the population there is oppressed and miserable under the tyranny of Vladimir Putin; the entire Russian military is in a dilapidated state and worthless as a modern fighting force; corrupt billionaires in Moscow are actively seeking to destroy democracies worldwide; and Russia is amongst the most racist and antisemitic nation on earth...

Anyway, I really don't see what these articles accomplish other than making the editors of these outlets look like a bunch of mentally retarded buffoons. Nonetheless, the article below is the latest pathetic example of how desperate the West's political elite have become in the face the rapidly rising power and influence of Moscow.
The third news article is about former chess champion Gary Kasparov. This Kasparov character went from world-class chess player to world-class clown. Now the clown in question is simply a mascot for Neocon interests in Russia.

Arevordi

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Russia will soon cease to be a world power

2007

Flush with oil wealth and facing elections in the new year, Russia under President Vladimir Putin grows more assertive and belligerent by the day. Whether probing the RAF's air defences or running spying rings on British soil, the message is unmistakable – Russia is back as a major player on the world stage and it views Britain as a vital adversary. Why is this happening and should we be worried? Russia's economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil and natural gas and the country's prosperity depends on international commodity prices. At present, global oil prices are pushing upwards towards $100 a barrel and Russia's national coffers are overflowing.

Hence Mr Putin has the resources to rebuild his threadbare armed forces. Less than 10 years ago, Russian finances were so parlous that the Kremlin was forced to default on its debts in 1998. Today, Mr Putin has amassed some of the biggest foreign exchange reserves in the world. Moreover, Mr Putin knows that a dose of assertive nationalism goes down well with the electorate - and presidential and parliamentary polls are due in March next year. Under the constitution, Mr Putin cannot serve a third term as president. He will get around this obstacle by becoming prime minister instead, while manoeuvring a loyal ally into the presidency. The centre of power in the Kremlin will shift from president to premier. The success of this plan hinges on Mr Putin retaining his standing among ordinary Russians. His popularity is the trump card. The more he can claim to have rebuilt Russia's national power, the better his chances of political survival.

Yet there is a deeper reason for Russia's noisy resurgence. Over the past two decades, the country has suffered humiliation after humiliation. The collapse of the Berlin Wall and of the Soviet Union itself brought about the end of Russia as a global superpower. Political chaos and economic collapse under President Boris Yeltsin's erratic rule in the 1990s left the Kremlin dependent on Western aid, particularly from the old enemy, America. Above all, Mr Putin wants to send an emphatic message that this disastrous era of national decline is over. He may well be wrong and this is why the West need not be unduly worried. Oil prices are liable to fall as well as rise. When they do take a tumble, Russia's economy will plunge with them.

Genuinely successful nations have innovative scientists, world-class universities and major companies turning out popular products. Russia has none of these assets. Instead, it has vast natural resources, and nothing else. World markets completely beyond Mr Putin's control decide the value of these commodities. Far from being a rising power able to decide its own destiny, the harsh truth is that Russia under Mr Putin depends on the whims of foreign oil traders. Bad times will almost certainly follow the present years of plenty. Russia's future looks disastrous. Emigration, alcohol abuse and the fact that its women have more abortions than live births brings down the national population each year. By 2050, there will be fewer than 100 million Russians, compared with 142 million today. Within decades, Russia will probably cease to carry any weight on the world stage.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...11/nspy311.xml

Experts see decline in Russia's military


President Vladimir Putin's government has failed to reverse a steady post-Soviet decline of the armed forces despite repeated pledges to strengthen military might, a group of independent experts said in a report released Tuesday. The military continues to suffer from rampant corruption, inefficiency and poor morale, the report said. The Kremlin has also failed to deliver on its promises to modernize arsenals, it said. Putin owes his broad popularity to an oil-fueled economic boom that has helped increase wages and pensions, as well as efforts to revive Russia's clout. But critics say that the Russian military is only a shadow of the Soviet Army and that bellicose statements from the Kremlin mask a steady decline of its potential.

"The revival of Russia's military might under Putin is merely a myth," Stanislav Belkovsky, who head the Institute for National Strategy, said at a presentation of the report. "The Russian armed forces have degraded completely under Putin." If the current trends continue, the report warns, Russia's nuclear arsenals would shrink from about 680 intercontinental ballistic missiles now to between 100 and 200 missiles over the next 10 years. "It's impossible to reverse these trends under the current policy," it added, pointing at a steady decline of the Russian military-industrial complex that would make it impossible to increase weapons production without huge investments. Alexander Khramchikhin, an expert with the Institute for Military and Political Analysis, said the continuing decline of nuclear forces meant that they would shrink to a level far below that of the United States and would be comparable to China's.

"Russia's strategic nuclear forces have seen sharp cuts under Putin," Khramchikhin said.

He added that the sea-based component of Russia's nuclear forces had undergone particularly drastic reductions. Blaming corruption as the root of the problem, Khramchikhin and others said increasing military budgets under Putin actually bought fewer weapons than in the era of President Boris Yeltsin. "Because of corruption, the military gets a lesser number of weapons at a higher cost," Khramchikhin said. Amid the increasing cold spell in relations with the West, officials cast the United States and NATO as the main potential enemy, neglecting a rising threat from China, experts said.

Moscow and Beijing have developed increasingly close ties since the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, building what they described a "strategic partnership" based on their shared opposition to perceived U.S. global domination. China has also become the top customer for Russia's military-industrial complex, buying billions of dollars' worth of jets, submarines and destroyers. "Thanks to Russia, China has practically overcome the lag in military technologies which was pretty big in the late 1980s," Khramchikhin said. A growing population and limited resources in China, he added, will make it a potentially difficult neighbor in the future. Some people in Russia have voiced similar fears, pointing at increasing numbers of Chinese migrants in scarcely populated Russia's Far East and Siberia. Officials have dismissed such concerns.

Putin talks of 'moral right'

Putin said Tuesday that a convincing victory for the party he is leading in next month's parliamentary elections would give him the "moral right" to maintain strong influence in Russia after he steps down next year, The Associated Press reported from Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Putin's remarks, made in Siberia, were the clearest affirmation yet that he planned to keep a powerful hold on Russia's reins, but he stopped short of saying whether he would seek a formal role. Putin said last month that he would lead the party's ticket in the Dec. 2 elections to the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament. The decision appeared aimed at increases the chances of the party, United Russia, and ensuring himself a power base when term limits force him from office next year.

"If the people vote for United Russia, it means that a clear majority of the people put their trust in me, and in turn that means I will have the moral right to hold those in the Duma and the cabinet responsible for the implementation of the tasks that have been set as of today," Putin told workers at a road construction site in Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian region that reaches beyond the Arctic Circle. A construction worker asked what Putin would do after he left office in May and why he had decided to lead the United Russia ticket. The president responded: "In what form I will do this, I cannot yet give a direct answer. But various possibilities exist. If the result is the one I am counting on, I will have this opportunity."

In the parliamentary elections, voters will choose only among parties, not individuals. Seats will be allocated proportionally to those parties that receive at least 7 percent of the vote. The people who lead party tickets do not always take seats in Parliament, and the Kremlin has said Putin has no intention of doing so. Since Putin agreed to head the United Russia ticket, the party has cast the election as a referendum on the president and the course he has set for the country.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/13/asia/russia.php

Kasparov Warns of ‘Chaos’ in Russia


Released from jail after serving a five-day sentence for leading an opposition march, Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion, warned today that Russia was heading toward chaos under President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Kasparov said his coalition, Other Russia, would continue its protests against the Kremlin in order to spotlight what he described as a government that has grown increasingly repressive. “We’ve entered a very dangerous period because we don’t know where this is going to stop,” he said at an impromptu news conference outside his home in Moscow shortly after being freed. The failure of the government to abide by its own laws and Constitution, he said, “could result in a catastrophe for the whole country.”

Mr. Kasparov was arrested last Saturday when he and other members of his coalition tried to deliver a letter to federal election officials contending that the parliamentary election this Sunday is biased toward Mr. Putin’s party, United Russia. Mr. Kasparov said he had not been treated badly behind bars, but complained that he had been denied access to a lawyer and that a court would not hear evidence in his defense. President Bush and other Western leaders had expressed alarm about Mr. Kasparov’s arrest, but the Kremlin dismissed their concerns, saying that Mr. Kasparov had violated the law by holding an unauthorized march and thus had faced appropriate punishment. Mr. Kasparov’s release came as Mr. Putin made a direct, televised appeal to the nation to support United Russia, which is expected to win an overwhelming victory on Sunday. The president has used the government’s full authority to assist the party and hobble the opposition, and his speech was widely covered by the national television networks, which are under the Kremlin’s control.

“Please, do not think that everything is predetermined and the pace of development we have attained, the direction of our movement toward success will be maintained automatically by itself,” Mr. Putin said. “This is a dangerous illusion.”

Mr. Putin once again raised the specter of the difficult years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, saying that the opposition would return the country to a time of “humiliation, dependency and disintegration.” Meanwhile, in a Moscow court today, another adversary of Mr. Putin, the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was convicted in absentia of embezzling millions of dollars from the national airline, Aeroflot. Mr. Berezovsky, a onetime Putin ally who is now one of his most vocal critics, received a sentence of six years in prison. He lives in Britain, and did not contest the charges, saying that they were trumped up by the Kremlin. British authorities would not extradite him.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/wo...html?ref=world

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