Vladislav Inozemtsev says Russia is on a road to nowhere:
Russia began turning away from Europe, and the West as a whole, not during the Ukrainian revolution in February, but when Putin began his third term as president in 2012. The fact that many Western leaders in recent years had what Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called “hopes for Russia’s democratic modernization” only proves that they misunderstood the nature and outlook of the Russian elite and people.
By 2014, Russia had once again become a country whose leadership showed no intention of complying with the rules of foreign or domestic policy. In fact, those leaders would probably act even more decisively if economic considerations did not hold them back. But the truth is that Russia depends heavily on the world economy, even if its political elite believe otherwise.
That is the reason observers hold little hope for a “return to normalcy” for the Russian economy. The convulsive turn that Russia took between March and August 2014 could lead to disastrous economic losses in the near future. Investment is expected to fall by 10 to 15 percent in 2015, personal incomes will gradually begin to fall and the government’s “major projects” will either proceed at a crawl or stop altogether.
Read the whole thing.
Russia’s major problem isn’t economic, although their economics aren’t good. Russia’s major problem is demographic, and Putin is attempting to address that, albeit clumsily. The first is his cultural war at home, to get ethnic Russians having children again. The second is to bundle as many Russians (or at least Slavs) back into the Motherland through immigration or annexation.
If something doesn’t reverse Russia’s demographic decline, then the entire Russian people will end up with the Communists on the ash heap of history.
In China we have an historically common case of a rising power which might resort to war to establish its place in the world. In Russia we have a less common case of a power on its way down, resorting to all sorts of nasty means to prevent the (nearly) inevitable. And oh, yeah — they’re neighbors.
Interesting times, anyone?