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Russia's Geopolitical Future

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Leoreth, May 28, 2011.

  1. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    We're talking a lot about the alleged decline of the west and the rise of China, but rarely about the country that's stuck right in the middle of it.

    Many Russians, seemingly including Putin/Medvedev and their party, seem to hope they can establish a major power status for themselves without having to align themselves with anyone, but how realistic is that? Russia's main advantage at the moment are their resources, that's where nearly all their newly gained wealth comes from - the rest of the economy seems to be performing rather poorly. Is that enough to become a superpower? Or does it drive them into dependence on the industrialized countries it exports them to?

    And if that's the case, with whom should or would they align themselves?

    China seems to be the more natural choice, given the similarities in the ways their governments and partially societies work - they won't have to justify how they run their country compared to those nagging westerners at least. On the other hand, China looks like it could become a lot more dangerous for Russia in the long run - they could get the upper hand in a future cooperation more easily than the small EU countries and far away USA.

    Is it maybe even possible to balance between both poles?

    Discuss :)
     
  2. Virote_Considon

    Virote_Considon The Great Dictator

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    Russia's future is with its European brothers.
     
  3. Veles

    Veles ♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓

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    Russia has the potential to be completely self-sufficient economy and military-wise.

    The current elite, though, is very clearly leaning towards the West. Although chinese relations are always portrait by the media as cordial and very important.

    Russia will continue to balance between all the power that be for a couple of decades, until something decent grows of it administration- and economic-wise.
     
  4. really

    really Deity

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    Do many countries aim for self sufficiency these days?

    I think Russia's future is in some form of partnership with Europe.
     
  5. Veles

    Veles ♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓

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    Self-sufficiency is just another word for independence and sovereignity. It should always be strived for, methinks. Until a concept of vialbe world government would be established at least.

    And some sort of partnership with EU would be plausible indeed. European ruling elite doen't seem to be eager to engage in one, though. They could start with abolishing visas for starters, which they fail to do for two decades already.
     
  6. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    North Korea?

    Sweden all through the Cold War had measures in place to run a 100% self-sufficient economy should the crap really hit the fan. Lots of countries can do it. At least at some kind of reduced level compared to reaping the benefits of being part of a vibrant global economy.

    I guess the rider to the assertion is that it is assumed that it won't cut into Russian wealth and economic performance? Which seems strange, since even if Russia can turn out to be self-sufficient in natural resources, and stops selling them on the world market (since it's apparently not going to be reliant on income from abroad?), even as a fully mature post-industrial economy able to provide all produce and services for its domestic market, that one is still going to be too small in relative terms to allow Russia to function as some kind of pocket universe.

    In the end, I think it might turn out a bit similar to France, if richer in natural resources — i.e. fully integrated in the global economy, but militarily self-reliant.
     
  7. Deego3

    Deego3 Prince

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    Russia will remain a major power, it's sheer size will make sure of that. It will become a major exporter of raw materials. It may be in their best interests to ally themselves to the EU, similar to how Canada allies itself with USA. Both will benefit economically from an alliance. About half of all Russian trade it with the EU. As Russia expands it's influence in Belarus and Ukraine, it will form a large practically undefendable border with the EU.
     
  8. RedRalph

    RedRalph Deity

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    Russia is too strong to not be a major power in the foreseeable future. It has many problems but many advantages too. I would rate it as the third most powerful country in the world.

    A lot depends on who is President next. I don't for a second buy that Medvedev is this ultra-liberal, ultra-modernising reformist, not do I buy that another Putin term would lead to stagnation, but I do think that with Putin as Prez again Russia will decisively lean towards China in geopolitical terms. The SCO will become a little bit stronger, more western UN resolutions will get vetoed in the UNSC and the US will probably have to pay a bigger price for transit rights to Afghanistan. Relations with the EU will suffer somewhat as Poland and the Baltics try to convince everyone else that Russia is planning to invade, while everyone else will largely ignore them.

    Lukashenko's days will be numbered. One way or the other another Putin term will finish him. Ukraine will probably join the customs union whoever is in charge of Russia in the next few years anyway. It'll get more and more oriented to Moscow.

    Russia has interest in stablising the Caucasus so it may try and cajole Azerbaijan and Armenia into ending the frozen conflict, with the help of Turkey. In fact, Turkey and Russia are very likely to become extremely close the way things are going. They will likely support eachother's positions in the ME and co-operate in a number of economic areas too.
     
  9. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Here's what I take away from previous discussions and reading about Russia.

    They are a strong regional power. In that, on their own immediate borders there is no one other than China that can really challenge them. And China can only threaten the least populated and developed areas. Russia can throw its weight around pretty well on it's southern, and to an extent its western, borders.

    But Russia is no longer a Great Power. And probably never will be again. It is not a world power now. And the only extent to which it can play at being one is to use oil and gas as strategic tools for the bullying of dependent importers.

    Russia's education appears decent at the primary and secondary level. But certainly doesn't stand out above that. A very small portion of the population can get a good, possibly very good, higher education. Most can't. That argues that Russia would have a very difficult time becoming a high tech industry powerhouse. They matched the West during the Cold War, not because they were as good as us, but because the resources they threw into it was so much greater a share of their total resources. That isn't true of post-Soviet Russia.

    So economically, they are not well posed to become either a high tech competitor, or even a manufacturing powerhouse. They have always, and continue, to have under developed infrastructure. So while their average living standard is above third world status, they lack lack the positioning to compete for first world status. They have neither the low enough wages to be a low cost manufacturing exporter, nor the development to be a first world manufacturing exporter.

    That leaves oil and gas. They are powerful in oil and gas. But it's not normal for a nation with a large population to become a major power based on resource exporting. Even though they aggressively use what power they have, there are long term limits on what they can expect to gain from it.

    I've heard recently that their have been some improvements in Russia's demographics trends. But those trends in recent decades have been really had for a nation to grow in power and wealth. What's stopped the nation from growing older the most is that rampant alcoholism and poor nutrition and poorer health care means that a high number die fairly young. But it also means that people are entering the ages of declining health in the ages that people in developed nations are reaching their highest productivity. And that leaves a flat population in a world where the population of most rivals is growing. The Soviet Union had a larger population than the US, and still had to spend itself into oblivion to match us in some areas. Russia has less than half the population of the US and has a population growth rate of -0.47% (2011 est.)




    The government and economic policy are not well set up to encourage a lot of economic growth. The former communist rulers pretty much just grabbed everything for their personal fortunes. That means that the economy is poorly positioned for bottom up, grassroots, economic development. Oligarchy simply doesn't support that very well.

    So, against high economic development, poor health, mediocre education, badly developed infrastructure, and oligarchic leadership.

    I don't see how a nation becomes more than a regional player with that, despite the size and natural resources.
     
  10. RedRalph

    RedRalph Deity

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    Who would you describe as Great Powers then Cutlass? I honestly cannot think of any more than two countries who are more powerful than Russia.
     
  11. RedRalph

    RedRalph Deity

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    Also, every one of those points towards the end can be said of China too... I'm not sure why you think a country's health service says anything at all about its geopolitical clout.
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    It's more of "how do you describe a great power". Russia can not project power much beyond its immediate borders. Russia is not a military threat (barring the use of nuclear weapons) to anyone it doesn't share a border with. And not even to all of those.

    So what is "Russia's Geopolitical Future"? To be an also ran. To be a has been. Not to be one of the key players on the world stage. Because other than oil and the UN Security Council, most of the nation of the world most of the time can simply pretend Russia doesn't exist and not be worse off for it.

    That's not the impact of a great power.



    A population both aging and declining, and in poor health, isn't dynamic enough to propel a nation forward against ever stronger competition.
     
  13. RedRalph

    RedRalph Deity

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    In that case you really only consider one country a great power. Russia has military and political powers far, far above almost every nation on Earth. Almost no one has as powerful a military. Only one other country has anything like the destructive power Russia has. Only one other country has a strategic bomber force. Only one other country is a bigger arms supplier. No other country has the energy reserves. Almost no other countries can rely on their own armaments production as Russia can. No other non-NATO countries have as many allies as Russia. Only one other country gets more immigrants than Russia. Unlike almost every other western country, Russia is not predicted to go into a sharp relative economic decline in the next few decades. Almost no other country can put obstacles in the way of the west as Russia can, and when they do the west has to bargain instead of bully. Only one other country has greater leverage inside the EU, no one has greater influence in central Asia, no one has greater influence over Iran...

    Is Russia as powerful as it was when it was a constituent of the USSR? Nowhere near. Is it still one of the three most powerful countries on Earth? Definitely. If you don't think any of that makes it a great power, then that's because you don't believe in great powers, only superpowers.

    What exactly do you mean by that? Explain how a country having a poor healthcare system affects its geopolitical position.
     
  14. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    What about France or Great Britain ?
    They have smaller armies, but they can both deploy their troops worldwide. I don't know much about the current Russian military, but I doubt it can match France's capacity for power projection.
     
  15. Veles

    Veles ♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓

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    You heard that, everyone? :smug:
    Cheers, bro :beer:

    Speaking of power projection - it's not really that important. It may seem so to those, who never experienced living in a superpower country, but in reality superpower status makes feck-all difference for common folk. If you're a superpower, whatever you do, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't, nobody's gonna thank you anyway, so why bother? It makes sense if you have an ideology to spread, but that's no longer the case for Russia.

    So what Russia needs is the capacity to defend itself (which it liek ttly has), and to have a say in its neighbours affairs (which it also has to an extent). It has to concentrate on internal development.

    Becoming superpower again would be sensless without a new national idea worth exporting. And if anything of this sort ever arise from Russia, it's gonna be related to environoment for sure. Ecovillage movement is growing ever more popular here with every year.

    Ahh... all this talk actually makes me feel proud of me Motherland!

    Go, Russia!
     
  16. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    I agree that being a "superpower" is more trouble than it's worth, but what about a "great power".
    I'd say France and GB are great powers, but what about Germany ?
    Germany is perfectly capable of defending itself, but absolutely unable to mount any sort of serious military operation outside of this small Asian peninsula we call Europe.
    I reckon if we compare Russia to the major EU powers it's Germany with nukes. It adds a new level of deterrence to the defense capabilities -which earns it a permanent seat on the UN security council- but it doesn't have any real influence beyond it's immediate neighbourhood.

    ICBMs don't count because no country really uses them to blackmail others.
     
  17. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    Really there is no one other then the U.S. that can do that. Sure some European countries are good at power projection for their size, but that still only allows them to do that with much weaker countries. Furthermore, this would mean Russia was never part of a great power, even during the cold war, or at the height of Tsarist power.
     
  18. Azale

    Azale Deity

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    China's pet. Demographics aren't favorable, governmental institutions are decaying, economy will burst after the commodity boom ends. Russia's bloated military will be a burden on it in the coming decades, weighing down the budget and trying to carry it's weight politically as the oligarchy cracks at the seams.

    In my opinion :)
     
  19. kronic

    kronic Deity

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    Germany is certainly not "perfectly capable of defending itself" since we have no nukes and with the ongoing transformation of the Bundeswehr into an intervention army, I'd very much call into question our ability to fight off a large attack. Luckily, the only two countries that I could see pulling such an attack off are France and Russia and that seems, for now, very unlikely (because of good relations and limited capabilities on their side, too). That said, Russia is in my opinion an almost natural ally for Germany, esp. in economic terms. I'd very much welcome closer ties between Germany and Russia and the creation of a strategic partnership (call it alliance if you want) between the two countries. We should certainly try our best to pull Russia closer to us.
     
  20. Veles

    Veles ♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓

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    So be it, then. All this power projection thingy is costly and not needed, really.

    Russia, though, does have a certain inertia from Soviet influence + ze missles, so it does have a limited influence beyond it's neighbourhood. It still more or less leads global projects, like space research.
     

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