Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Imperialist Russia Everything Is A Weapon

I don't think Russians want an autarky. They don't really want to close themselves off from the rest of the world. But they don't necessarily want free trade either. For them trade, just like energy, is just another weapon to use to bend other nations to their will.

What I am noticing is that to the Russians everything is a potential weapon. They love war and conflict too much. Throughout history Moscow has gained most of what it has through aggression and deception.

For example, both Russia and Ukraine have record harvests this year (Ukrainian exports of grain will even be higher than the Russian ones - 5 times what Ukraine exported last year). But when you read the Russian press they are already talking in anticipation of the harvest about using grain exports as a new strategic Russian weapon against the West.

Russians are quite good at traditional weapons of war: conventional military power, nuclear power, intelligence gathering, secret services, sabotage, psy-ops and propaganda.

But they also see pretty much everything else as a weapon to use against their enemies - all those who will not bend to the Kremlin's will. So, this is how the Kremlin sees it:

Energy is a weapon - complete state control inside of the nation and pipelines outside of it and turning off gas and oil supplies at will and manipulating prices to reward and punish other nations.

Trade is a weapon - creating various obstacles (tariffs or bans) for products from nations it wants to punish, almost always under the guys of "sanitary concerns", constant trade wars with other nations, complete blocking of trade in some cases, like Georgia for the past two years.

International law is a weapon - they will claim international law priviledge whenever it suits their purposes and strengthens their case, but will break it at will if it's within their interests to do so.

Investments are a weapon - they use foreign investments by state-owned companies to gain control of foreign gas and oil infrastructure, including pipelines, refining companies, energy trading companies, gas station networks, etc. For example, about 5 years ago, Russian companies bought up most of Ukraine's refineries and when Yulia Tymoshenko was putting pressure on them, they all simply stopped refining oil for a few days, citing "routine maintenance", and caused shortages in the Ukrainian energy market. Belarus fares even worse. Last year, the Belarusian government was forced to give up the ownership of all of the country's gas pipelines to Russian state-owned company Gazprom.

History is a weapon - the Kremlin writes and re-writes history as it sees fit, a past friendly nation can easily become an enemy in history books, almost overnight, and a past enemy can easily be portrayed as a friend, if the need arises, and all of the history is written to glorify and justify the Russian Empire and its expansion.

The media is a weapon - they believe TV is the most effective form of media and thus the Putin government has come to own or control pretty much the entire TV industry within the Russian Federation, which is very useful for pushing government propaganda whenever they want to, glorify the President, or create and castigate enemies - foreign or domestic - in the public's eye.

Non-profit organizations are a weapon - the Russian government has cut off foreign funding from non-profit organizations in Russia and is now using non-profit organizations as a political tool. For example, recently a Russian government-funded Jewish organization was trying to portray Ukraine as an anti-semitic nation, even though the level of anti-Semitic violence is significantly higher in Russia.

The church is a weapon - it is no secret that most of the top leadership of the Russian Orthodox Chruch are KGB agents and closely work with the government on a whole range of issues, thus putting the church at the use of the state.

You can just go on and on down the list. Like I said, for the Russian Empire, everything is a potential or actual weapon, quite literally everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments and reactions here.