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The Pillars of Russian Power

osh_pop_mp_wordmark power pillars.jpgStratfor has published an opus of sorts on the Russian financial predicament. What’s so unique about it is the historical lens through which the authors gauge the truths and fictions of the Kremlin’s recent rise, including the counter-intuitive notion that the inglorious tanking of the Russian economy and the evaporation of foreign credit has not, in fact, diminished the reality of Russian power, which is manifested through “six pillars.”

Conclusion:

“Over the past few years, there was a window of opportunity for Russia to resurge while Washington was preoccupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This window has been kept open longer by the West’s lack of worry over the Russian resurgence given the financial crisis. But others closer to the Russian border understand that Moscow has many tools more potent than finance with which to continue reasserting itself.”

Now, the six pillars:

Geography: “Unlike its main geopolitical rival, the United States, Russia borders most of the regions it wishes to project power into, and few geographic barriers separate it from its targets.”

Politics: “There are few domestic forces the government cannot control or balance. The Kremlin understands the revolutions…of the past, and it has control mechanisms in place to prevent a repeat. This control is seen in every aspect of Russian life, from one main political party ruling the country to the lack of diversified media, limits on public demonstrations and the infiltration of the security services into nearly every aspect of the Russian system.

Social System: “As a consequence of Moscow’s political control and the economic situation, the Russian system is socially crushing, and has had long-term effects on the Russian psyche.

Natural Resources: “Modern Russia enjoys a wealth of natural resources in everything fromfood and metals to gold and timber. The markets may take aroller-coaster ride and the currency may collapse, but the Russianeconomy has access to the core necessities of life. Many of theseresources serve a double purpose, for in addition to making Russiaindependent of the outside world, they also give Moscow the ability toproject power effectively.

Military: “While Tbilisi was certainly an easy target, the Russian military looksvery different to Kiev — or even Warsaw and Prague — than it does tothe Pentagon. And even in this case, Russia has come to relyincreasingly heavily on its nuclear arsenal to rebalance the military equation and ensure its territorial integrity, and is looking to establish long-term nuclear parity with the Americans.

Intelligence: “The KGB (now the FSB) instills fear into hearts around the world, let alone inside Russia.”