A Different Take On Russia

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I’ve been talking with reader Bill on several topics about Russia, which are actually related. Been promising him an article or two, and it’s time to deliver. While I said it early on, it’s time to revisit what I think is in store for Russia in the near future. Absent some massive political, social, and other changes, Russia is frelled. There are several reasons for this.

First up, as I and others have discussed before, is birthrate. This article in the Moscow Times gives a good overview and is worth the read. It’s even in English so no translation needed. When you factor in ethnicity, the Rus/Slavs are being outbred by pretty much every other ethnic group, often by a significant margin. Still looking for some solid figures, but it appears that in a number of areas the Rus/Slav group is already a shrinking minority.

This is not new in many respects, as Russkiy Mir called for efforts to reverse this trend and to bring home ethnic Rus/Slav that were not currently part of Russia. It’s why the Russians are kidnapping so many Ukrainian children as they are essential to repopulation efforts.

The other key component in trying to halt the demographic slide is to change the abortion culture that gripped (grips?) Russia. While it is changing, abortion was (is?) the primary means of birth control. Given infant and maternal mortality rates, and a lack of basic reliable healthcare, it was the chosen method. In 2000, more than 2 million abortions were performed in Russia, and while numbers have significantly dropped, it is an ongoing cultural battle. See this article and this article for some additional background.

Keep in mind that most of the data/statistics shown are the official statistics of the Russian government, and may or may not accurately reflect reality. I’ve seen some other statistics out there that indicate your average Rus/Slav woman of childbearing years has had multiple abortions (unconfirmed rates of 10-20 in a lifetime), which also has a very negative affect on the ability to have children when marriage and other factors put you in a position to want children. If anyone has a source of accurate statistics on abortion by ethnic group, would love to see them.

To further complicate efforts to halt the population decline Russia has one of the worst, if not the worst, rate of spread and rate of death from AIDS/HIV. How bad is it? So bad the Russian government no longer reports the data (or they had quit the last time I checked). Major mode of spread seems to be drug use, which is also a factor I’m not going to get into too much today. Read this article, this article, and this article for more information. Again, I’ve seen some real interesting numbers, and where it appears there is widening drug (and alcohol) abuse with a corresponding spread of AIDS/HIV is in younger males in the prime years for marriage, family, etc.

Now, you also have to factor in brain drain. While the news has been focused on young men fleeing Russia to avoid getting sent to the Ukraine, brain drain is a long-term problem for Russia that seems to only be growing. It’s not just males either, but females as well. Kamil Galeev has written about this before and I commend his works on the subject to you. He’s someone I respect, and respect the thought processes, even if/when I disagree with him. Great insights on Russia, and he is a good example of the brain drain they face. Again, based on what data I can find, this is an ongoing and accelerating problem.

Russia is a resource rich country, make no mistake. It literally, however, can’t tap it’s own resources to any degree right now. Rus/Slav paranoia about foreign partnerships (and there are companies around the world who would love to to be a part of such efforts since even a small percentage of such is going to be huge) along with remnants of Soviet/Communist inferiority complex are a large part of the problem. The other problem is that developing the people-resources needed means they need smart, clever, and ambitious people who can think outside the box. Most of which are leaving Russia for better opportunities and circumstances. Under the oligarchia and current culture, there is very little for them in Russia.

In addition to a vast amount of resources, Russia also had its reputation as a top-tier military power and as a nuclear power. Yes, I said had and mean it.

I’m having one of those mornings today, so I can’t remember if it was the Institute for the Study of War (ISW on Twitter), Dmitri, or Kamil Galeev who stated in the last few days that internal Russian politics will cope with problems with the military while military defeats will result in domestic political change. I agree with the basic assessment.

For all that Russians take pride in a mighty military, being a member of the military itself has fallen out of favor. Military members are seen, effectively, as dumb, morally cripple, and about anything else a leftist has said here about our own military. Have heard that the Russian military members are a bit of a handful for local law enforcement, and may be far more involved in drug dealing, theft, and other delights than in what might be regarded as normal shenanigans for a basic troop.

For all that troops are increasingly regarded as scum by what appears to be a growing part of the population, Russians do take pride in having a mighty military that will protect them from the evil West, Nazis, and others. That can meet any challenge, defeat any enemy, and do so quickly. After all, they’ve been promised by Putin and others that the military is a priority, has the best equipment, is well trained, etc.

By opening the military to the oligarchia for looting, it is increasingly clear that the Russian military is a shell of its former self. Word is that we and others have been able to buy equipment and advanced systems to study because troops (and their families) were literally starving. The missing radios from the Russian doomsday plane should have been a bigger clue to all than it apparently was. I certainly had no idea of the extent to which the corruption had disrupted everything from uniforms to specialized gear. Cheap imported tires are the least of the problems the Russian military faces.

Right now, there are serious questions about how much of the warstock they have can even be used. Tanks and rifles are rusted to the point of being inoperative and non-repairable. Specialized gear? Look at how many years overdue the SATAN-II missile is right now, and one gets an idea of why it and other systems are being questioned. Soviet era supplies, especially on things like MOPP gear, are toast at this point.

On paper, they still have a huge military with lots of gear. I have one question on that, which is if the 20 percent ghost trooping we appeared to see early on isn’t a much higher percentage. When millions of uniforms don’t exist because of corruption, how many of the troops are really there? How many of their aircraft are truly fully serviceable?

Which is why things are about to get even more interesting for Russia. Armenia and Azerbaijan are not the only potential flash point on the Russian flanks (and within treaty). There are any number of areas that are potentially restive towards rule by Moscow, and if you think China hasn’t considered absorbing some of those resource-rich areas next to their border you are delusional. And if you think the Middle Kingdom is happy with Vladimir buying or trying to buy stocks of ammo from North Korea, I’ve got a bridge for you. North Korea has long been an area of contention between the two powers. Also, Winnie the Poo is not likely to be happy in regards Iran for that matter. China has long been expanding its influence there, using carefully metered nuclear help among other things. Now, Tehran is openly asking for advanced nuclear weapon development help as part of the deal for drones (which have far too many Western, including US, parts in them).

On top of that, you now have Japan pushing (hard by diplomatic standards) in regards the Kuril Islands. Japan has never accepted their loss, and for years has pushed on a purely diplomatic level simply because that was the only option open to them. Between the size and perceived quality of the Russian military, and it being a nuclear power, they were not stupid and so made no military move. Now, even as people start to openly debate if Russia qualifies as either a second or third tier military, who knows? I don’t expect to see Japan do something militarily aggressive but what else might they do?

Russia, as we know it, is on course to implode. Between population shrinkage, and the rapid shrinking of the ethnic Rus/Slav people, and brain drain, the current system has no chance of long-term survival. Add in everything else, and the odds go up rather dramatically on the system coming apart in the next ten to twenty years. Now, factor in military defeat in Ukraine and the impact that is going to have on populations and politics, and it means the next few years might be more interesting than any of us would like. Especially given that Russia is an unstable nuclear power to an extent that makes the old Soviet Union breaking apart seem stable by comparison.

As I pointed out yesterday, the invasion and all that is going on in Russia is based on domestic Russian politics. What I’ve outlined above are some of the factors driving those domestic politics. Dealing with the international and other issues depends on leaders outside of Russia not only understanding the domestic Russian political situation but also the cultural factors playing into it and into popular opinion within Russia. For that we have Dementia Joe and the incompetent Regency; Macron the Macaroon; the Germans; the British (who hopefully still have a decent MoD and aren’t going to replace the PM every week); and, Xi the unstable. Oh, and keep in mind that Great Leader, Khamenei (who is facing open rebellion), and a few others are fishing around in these troubled waters too. At a time where the world truly needs stable, intelligent, and competent leadership, this is what we have.

Russia is not the only country that may be frelled.


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11 thoughts on “A Different Take On Russia”

  1. In addition to Kamil Galeev, I’d recommend this lecture from a Finnish intel officer:
    And this clip from a Zeihan presentation… shortly after the conquest of Crimea:

    In short, this is not just Putin’s war; Russian culture and history is pushing this drive towards their 1950 (or at least Spring 1941) borders. And the lives and freedoms of the peoples who live in the lands that lie between Russia and what it considers “defensible borders”…. mean not a whit to them. Non-Russians are subhumans in their eyes, and always have been. Two questions that really matter:
    1) What will it take to convince not just Putin, but the bulk of the Russian populace that there is no path to victory, and how do they react after they accept that?
    2) Whither the nukes? Do they use them? If the government falls, what becomes of them? And, how many actually work?

  2. Might want to keep an eye on Kaliningrad/Koenigsberg enclave as well. Some weird things going on in and around there.

  3. Demographics is destiny. Are we allowed to say that anymore? Even beyond Russia, short of small pockets of growth, it’s shocking how universal the worldwide population collapse is. This will be the defining geopolitical factor for the next millennium.

    1. “This will be the defining geopolitical factor for the next millennium.”

      Care to think back what the defining geopolitcal factor for the previous millennium was?

      Population collapse will likely effect the next century, but there are ebbs and flows. Millennium is, at best, a massive exaggeration.

      Now, the collapse of modern infrastructure and the attendant reversion to pre-industrial standards of living are much more likely to influence further into the future.

      I do have to wonder if the next millennium will have outlandish tales (like the ancient Greeks) of the godly capabilities of the previous golden age…

  4. What do you mean by “frelled”? Is this a portmanteau word? If so, what are the two components? Frail and felled, perhaps. Please explain.

    1. Frelled is basically a “nice” way of saying fucked or screwed. It may have come from a television science fiction show, as I know “fracked” from the original Battlestar Galactica was used in the same way. Can’t be sure beyond that, seems to be one of the memories the lightning strike scrambled a bit.

        1. YES!!! And thank you!! That just popped open a bit of a door for me, and helped in regards the long-term memory issues. They tell me they are all there, just scrambled. Now a fraction of a percent less scrambled. 🙂 Miss that show, another that left the airwaves before its time.

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