One should never forget that dictatorships are inherently inefficient. Russia, now one of the world’s largest oil and gas suppliers, has made a great deal of cash out of the energy run. Most of that has been siphoned off by cronies, apparatchiks, corruption, and outright inefficiency.
When Russia declared a few days ago that they were planning to take the opportunity to extend the might of the Russian military out towards the North Pole many were concerned that they would lay claim to the oil and gas reserves currently held in international waters. They sent an ice-breaker and one of their nuclear subs to explore the Lomonosov Ridge which they claim extends from Murmansk under the pole. If they could prove it they may have a claim to the area.
However, those plans have sprung a leak. Beating up peasants in Chechnya has given the Russians a false sense of military superiority and they’ve forgotten the embarrassment of the KA-159 that sank in the Barents Sea killing its 9 crew in 2003. These subs are the same era. And their sub is now listing and in need of rescue. It’s a bit of an embarrassment.
The recent hoopla Putin and the UK has sent temperatures plummeting to Cold War levels. Russia is certainly a threat to stability in Europe and the Middle East. But it is not the Soviet Union. It doesn’t have an ideology. It is functionally poorer and more fragmented than in the ’80s. And it is significantly more dependent on the West than it is comfortable with.
None of which makes Putin less of a bully.
Categories: American Culture