January 12, 2013

How Many Holes for Ukraine are there in the Russian Lifebuoy?

“At the beginning of the XXI century we faced a real demographical and axiological catastrophe… Already in a few decades Russia can turn into a poor, hopelessly old by age and unable to maintain its independence and even its territory, country”.

From the message of the RF President V.Putin to the Federal Assembly of Russia dated 12th December 2012.

“The situation in Russia’s economy… is a pre-thunderstorm one”.

From the interview of the Prime Minister of Russia D.Medvedev to “Kommersant” newspaper on the 29th of November 2012.

According to the estimations of Russian experts (representatives of the state government included), despite  the active efforts of Moscow for strengthening the international positions of Russia, and declaration of  “significant success” in the revival of the “great Russian state”, the real state of affairs in the Russian Federation keeps getting more and more complicated. The reason for this is said to be the inconsistency between the goals and methods of realization of the RF’s foreign policy and the real abilities of the country.

Decrease of the Russian gas export  

The decline in exports of Russian gasThus, the attempts to realize President V.Putin’s strategic conception of turning Russia into a “great energy country - the leading supplier of energy carriers in the world”, and so did Moscow’s measures for using the energy factor as an instrument for realization of its foreign policy. It is common knowledge that the mentioned above actions of the Russian Federation not only did not help strengthening of Russia’s influence in the world, but had led to diametrically opposite result, having become the main stimulus to EU countries and Ukraine’ looking for alternative sources of gas. In the total, in November 2012 the gas export of Russia had decreased by 20% as compared with November 2011.

  Outflow of foreign investments

The outflow of foreign investmentsNot less negative for Russia were the results of the RF’s Government measures for strengthening the state control of the country’s economy and dislodging leading Western companies from the Russian energy market. All this has caused a mass outflow of foreign investments from the Russian Federation at the level of more than 90 billion US dollars in 2011 and 2012, as well as a mass moving of business activity of Russian companies to off-shore zones. It means that instead of creating conditions for strengthening the Russian state and realization of the mentioned above Russian energy strategy, observes a processes as they say, "exactly the opposite." According to V.Putin’s statement in his Message to the Federal Assembly of the RF, at the present moment nine out ten important contracts concluded by Russian companies (companies with participation of the state included), are not regulated by national laws.

Dynamics of the main types of the economy activity

Dynamics of basic economic activitiesNone more successive was the strategy of the “modernizing” development of Russia, which suggested the change of the nature of Russia’s economy from mainly producing energy carriers and other kinds of raw materials to mass mastering and application of modern technologies. The mentioned above is the result of the outflow of foreign investments from Russia and of the catastrophic growth of corruption in the country, as well as of the total degradation of the Russian society, which has actually lost its intellectual and production potentials. As a result, over the last 10 years, Russian economy has not become less depending on the export of energy carriers, but on the contrary, this dependence has increased from 50% to 60%. In its turn, this actually put Russia into a certain dependence on the USA, which determine the world gas prices through their Middle East allies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). The catastrophism of such a situation was admitted by the RF’s President V.Putin in his Message to the Federal Assembly.

Thus, according to his words, the Russian budget and social sphere are actually hostages of the finance and raw materials markets of other countries.

The mentioned above trends are accompanied by Russia’s obvious fails both, in the foreign and domestic spheres. The fact of the West’s demonstrative ignoring the negative position of Moscow in the questions of creation of the USA/NATO’s AMD System in Europe, further widening of the North Atlantic Union (prospects of Georgia’s joining NATO included), as well as possibility of the force solving of the Syrian and Iranian problems.

Similarly failing became Russia’s policy at the post-Soviet territories, which Kremlin considers a zone of its “exclusive influence”. Thus, even the closest Moscow’s allies - Belarus and Kazakhstan - are demonstrating their interest only in getting economic preferences from Russia and are not going to give up their own national interests for the sake of Russia’s geopolitical goals.

At the same time, the events connected with mass forest fires in 2010, massive floods at the Kuban in summer of 2012 and snow drafts at the beginning of the same year, show the incapability of the Russian Government to react adequately to crisis situations inside the country.

Against this  background, more and more threatening factors for Russia are the increasing role of China with its inexhaustible demographic, economic and military resources, and the spreading of Islamic extremism from the Middle East and Central Asia (first of all, from Afghanistan).

In such a situation the most important for any country is a strong, professional and wise power, trusted by the population and capable of leading an effective inner policy and reaching compromises with foreign partners. But, according to Russian political scientists, the present situation in Russia is absolutely different. Despite the measures of the leaders of Russia for making both, the inner and foreign policies harder, the Government of the Russian Federation keeps losing the control of the development of events in the country and in the world in the whole.

The examples of the above said are the mass protests of the Russian population against the falsification of the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections at the end of 2011 and at the beginning of 2012, as well as large scale corruption scandals taking place in Russia lately.

While not long ago such scandals would have been carefully concealed by the Russian power, now they are subject to wide public’s great attention both, in the Russian Federation and abroad. The reasons for such changes are not simple and are estimated differently by Russian experts. Though, depending on their political preferences, there can be traced two main versions, such as:

  1. V.Putin’s lingering illness, which objectively weakens his capabilities of holding the balance of forces and interests of the Russian oligarchy groups. Taking the advantage of the mentioned above, the latter have activated the struggle for redistribution of the financial streams and property in Russia.
  1. The attempts of the current RF President to raise his rating by the demonstration of increasing the struggle against corruption in the country, as it was at the beginning of 2000s during his first presidential term.

And it does not matter which of these versions has more right to live. One thing is clear - in any case the mentioned above trends can have catastrophic results for Russia. Actually, the increasing of the confrontation between the central power and oligarchy clans of the RF, as well as the sharpening of contradictions between the groups in the ruling top of the country, create real preconditions for disintegration of the Russian Federation.

In this aspect both, Russian and Western analysts have been drawing analogies between the current situation in Russia and the last years of the former USSR, when the attempts of the then leaders of the country to increase the struggle against corruption and to give it real meaning, had become one of the reasons for the USSR’s falling apart.

 Moscow supposes that by 2015 Ukraine will have joined the Customs Union

Against this background, the statement of the RF President’s Adviser S. Glazyev (responsible for the issues of the Eurasian integration within the framework of the Customs Union and United Economic Area of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan), dated by the 9th of December 2012, as to “an approaching economic catastrophe in Ukraine” (and according to which the only way to avoid that catastrophe is to join the Customs Union), looks quite strange. How is such a way out supposed to help Ukraine, if Russia, the main body of the Customs Union, is at the edge of such a catastrophe itself?