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Russia’s Dead Cat Bounce

Today Sean-Paul Kelley at the Agonist writes about the Russian hijinks in Georgia and Kaliningrad, which he argues is like a “dead cat bounce” – a slight, fitful resurgence in an otherwise long, steep decline:

But, in the long run Russia has deep, systemic problems as a nation, what with a demographic collapse ongoing. Russia loses 800,000 people a year, net. That alone, when factored out twenty or thirty years into the future is catastrophic for Russia. Second, it’s armed forces need dire reform. While officers in the Russian military do not outnumber enlisted members, the number isn’t too far off. The army is too top heavy and even with oil in over $100 a barrel the Russians are having a hard time just maintaining what equipment they have. There are no new weapon systems coming on line. (If I recall correctly they were delivered one new fighter in the last several years.) Russia doesn’t have a carrier and more, doesn’t have a shipyard capable of building one.

Then again, the author breezily mentions that Washington willingly “allowed” Georgia to start a war (without any attribution of source), and that Barack Obama should disassemble the “national security state” by letting Russia do whatever it pleases to its neighbors. Apparently the “binary” foreign policy of the Bush years, which involved inviting Putin over for lobster picnics and paling around on fishing boats, was much too tough. (Yes, that was Obama’s advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who poked fun at the inept soft Russia policy of the Bush White House).