The dramatic events unfolding in Ukraine these days force us to return once again to the problem of Russia and Europe. [...]
What is happening today is the consequence of the fatal spiral set in motion after 1991, which some US officials such as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski or Georges Kennan had foreseen if Moscow continued to be caught in the crossfire.
Until we have more clarity on the causes and consequences of this armed conflict, let’s get two assertions out of the way that keep cropping up in the commentaries. The first is that Russia is a second-rate economy in rapid decline, with a GDP lower than that of Spain.
Such statements please the Russo-phobes who spout them, and who think their wishful thinking is reality. But they are wrong.
In a study published in the November issue of Foreign Affairs, which serves as a bible for US imperial policy, two researchers warned against this illusion. The Russian economy is not only stronger than it likes to be given credit for – it ranks sixth in the world by purchasing power parity and second in Europe behind Germany – but it is also resilient and has become much stronger since 2014 because of, or rather thanks to, the sanctions imposed on it.
Of course, these authors, who are members of a think tank close to the Pentagon (the Center for a New American Security), develop this thesis further to call for even more military credits and resources in the fight against Russia. The US, they write, must acquire the means to keep both Russia and China at bay in order to preserve its “democratic” hegemony in the world.
But at least they admit the obvious. Let’s look at the facts: Financially, Russia has some of the largest reserves in the world at $650 billion, and it can thus act with foresight. Its dependence on the dollar has been drastically reduced. A parallel payment system to SWIFT is being set up. Its foreign debt is low and its public budgets are balanced – phenomena unknown to us. Its exports have been greatly diversified, especially to Asia and the Middle East. Its agricultural production has increased so much that since 2017 it has become the world’s largest wheat exporter. It remains the largest supplier of gas and oil to Europe (and, paradoxically, the second largest to the US in 2021!).
Russia is reindustrialising at a rapid pace, especially in petrochemicals, plastics and composites, benefiting from cheap energy. It has developed its own digital technologies and internet platforms, independent of the Californian giants. Finally, its defence industry is successful, as sales figures show, and very innovative in some areas such as hypersonic missiles and cyber warfare. As an aside, it should be mentioned that Russia is capable of waging limited wars that cost little money and human lives, as seen in Syria. Compared to the trillions of dollars the US and NATO have spent in Afghanistan and Iraq to no avail, this is no small advantage.
A final observation is demographics, which are said to be in decline. The Russian population decline is real, but far from catastrophic, as it is offset by workers from the Central Asian allied countries. Life expectancy and the human development index have increased significantly, while other indicators such as the suicide rate and infant mortality have declined significantly. [...]
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