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What Will Come with Russia When the Prices for Oil Will Start to Decrease?

What Will Come with Russia When the Prices for Oil Will Start to Decrease?
Filin Vladimir 22.09.2006

American magazine "Newsweek" published an article of Rine Menon and Alexander Motyl under the heading; "Why Russia in Reality Is Weak". It is said in it, in particular, (translation - Inopressa): "Articles of mass-media about Russia develop a predicted theme: the country revives and becomes strong and the West should adapt to this new reality. But it is an incorrect plot. Russia is weak and becomes weaker.

Let’s take traditional index of power – military power. Yes, Moscow tries high technology missile systems and happily speaks about overcoming of American system of anti-missile defense by warheads of new generation capable of getting away from interceptors. But let’s pay attention to September failure of praised missile of submarine start “Bulava”. Certainly, the USA has such failures. But in Russia these are signs of deeper things.

It’s not a secret that even having Russian oil riches, its army remains badly trained, half-starved and demoralized. Alcoholism, suicides and corruption are widely spread. The weapon becomes outdated and new models are delivered by thin thread: since 2001 India bought more Russian tanks than the Russian army. Russia receives respect because of economic growth - almost 7 % this year according to IMF. But a driving force of boom is mainly growing prices for energy carriers.

What will be when - when instead of if - the prices for oil and gas will start to be reduced? New investments into industrial supplies will be insufficient to support present level of export. Meanwhile the economic reform has got stuck, the state control in strategically important branches of economy has amplified and foreign investments remain to be small. Out of 648,1 billion dollars of foreign investments made all over the world in 2004, only 11,6 billion dollars went to Russia.

No wonder that in ratings of globalization Russia looks rather bad. Foreign Policy/A.T. Kearney of 2005 research put it on 52 place out of 62 countries – a decrease on five points in comparison with 2004. Manpower resources of Russia are reducing. The population decreases approximately for 750 thousand annually because of low birth rate and extremely high death rate among men; it also quickly grows old and consequently becomes less productive. Alcoholism as well as drug-taking is still widely spread.

Level of tuberculosis in Russia is the highest in the Europe. Spread of AIDS has not reached peak yet. The level of suicides grows. According to the data of WHO collected in 46 countries during the years 1998-2003 Russia heads the list with 71 cases for 100 thousand man's population. Force of the country leans also on force of its institutions. Here again Russia becomes weaker. Putin's authoritarianism brought the order on once chaotic political arena. But the parliament is emasculated. The same way as independent civil organizations, political parties and mass-media. Secret police, army and special services – being in no way friend of legitimacy – occupy prominent political positions. Official corruption is blooming.

Influence of Russia abroad also goes on a loss. Its nearest allies - Kirghizia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - are poor and politically unstable. Rich with energy Kazakhstan and Туркмения are dissatisfied that Russia grasps their export. Armenia, loyal, but poor is still involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with getting more and more prospering Azerbaijan. Intervention of the Kremlin in Georgian businesses strengthened determination of Tbilisi to enter NATO and strengthened antiRussian moods. The Belarus president dreams about alliance with Russia but its political order in Soviet style repels. On wider world arena Putin demonstrates apparent power and new assurance.  

Support of Russia is a key to negotiations about Iranian nuclear program. Its right of veto in Security Council gives it a weight to speak on various political problems, starting from independence of Kosovo up to peace-making forces of the United Nations in Lebanon. However putin’s rhetoric more often plays on themes of great Russia - imperial, nostalgic, nationalist. No matter what response it finds in certain Russian political classes, it has in itself a soft corner in the heart. It is visible in sharp growth of crimes in Russia on ethnic purity.  

The last for today was confrontation between Russian and Chechens in the northwest city Kondopoga where the quarrel in a bar gave way to mass meetings of the nationalists demanding to expel ethnic minorities. The right nationalism under the slogan "Russia for Russians" – is a bad omen for multinational and multiconfessional Russia where nearby 25 million of Moslems live. So the ordinary opinion is a mistake. The West would live with weak Russia. And the history shows that the states that speak loudly but don’t have a big stick usually react inadequately creating problems to themselves and to the others”.

PS. In spite of illusions of numerous Russian and foreign critics of Vladimir Putin, his mode, obviously, is optimum from the point of view of pragmatic interests of the West. This mode in this or that kind, undoubtedly, will be kept for at least some future years - until the abnormally high world prices for oil will remain and till the time when the USA finally will finish radical reorganization of geopolitic card of the Near East according to its curves or not having sustained imperial weight will be shamefully expelled from this region.  

Until it does not happen, in exchange for refusal of the Kremlin to play an active role in the CIS, its actual support of a line of the USA concerning Iran and struggle with so-called "international terrorism", restriction of power cooperation of Russia with China and granting preferences to the western, first of all, to the American oil-and-gas companies,they will be ready in Washington and the European capitals to shut eyes further on Vladimir Putin's steps as well as on his successors inside of the country. And if nevertheless from time to time some criticism fro “derogation of democracy” from the part of the Kremlin will be heard, it will de done only on words.  

Whether the given approach will change in the second decade of the 21st centuries? Possibly, no if there will be further degradation of economy, society and defensive potential, that completely suits the West. But thus during the considered period, probably, it is necessary to expect greater than now activity and direct involvement of the USA on the Russian territory. In particular, by secret use of forces of radical Islamism and their diversion component in regions of our country with the Muslim population as instruments with which help is possible in case of necessity to expose to a risk and create a risk of transportation of the Siberian oil and gas into Europe.

Other possible area of an involvement of the Americans of the factor of radical Islamism - Fergana valley. The organization there of Islamic mutinies and chaos will inevitably create powerful pressure upon Kashgar and other western areas of China occupied by Moslems-Uigurs - the main geostrategic competitor of the USA in the 21st century. But as the chaos, probably, will get the tendency to distribution in all directions, sooner or later it will reach Russia. At last, probably, in ten years there will appear in the agenda a question about joint, with participation of Russia, the USA and NATO, "defense" of Siberia and the Far East from the real or imaginary "Chinese expansion". Pekin, as it is known, tries to diversify oil deliveries from abroad as soon as more than a half of Chinese import falls on the countries of the Near East, at that to Saudi Arabia - 19 %. But instability in this region actively pushes China to search alternatives. And it, in the first place, is – Caspian and Russia.

In its turn, in the USA separate political scientists and experts not for the first year speak about expediency of so-called joint with Russia "household reclamation" of empty territories to the east from Urals Mountains. This is for the present hypothetical approach of Americans to Siberia and to the Far East under a pretext of "defense" and "reclamation" from the formal consent of the Kremlin, will be that "red line" which crossing will lead to a world war between the USA and China. That can become the price for the present putin’s stability, corruption, irresponsibility and doing-nothing not only for Russia but for the whole mankind.
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