Even as we have to resist Russian efforts that threaten the West, we don't want our efforts to cause a further collapse of Moscow's territory that allows China to pick up the pieces, either formally or by local proxies cutting deals with Peking.
In my frustration over Moscow's actions and attitudes, I've written that Russia would get what it deserves if China pounces on their Far East as Russia fixates on a false threat from NATO.
While Russia might deserve that outcome, I actually don't want that to happen.
I don't want China to gain territory at Russia's expense and I really don't want Russia with their paranoia and large nuclear arsenal to feel like they are being dismembered by a vast plot of foreigners that includes America as well as China.
Russia under Putin is the sick, angry man of Europe (of Eurasia, actually) whose threat to the West lies as much in their collapse as in their hostility and aggression, as I wrote after Russia's aggression against Georgia[.]
Then I read this article about a Stratfor projection:
The firm believes the Russian Federation will not survive the decade in its present form, after a combination of international sanctions, plunging oil prices, and a suffering ruble trigger a political and social crisis. Russia will then devolve into an archipelago of often-impoverished and confrontational local governments under the Kremlin's very loose control.
"We expect Moscow's authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia" the report states, adding, "It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form."
If that upheaval happened, it could lead to what Stratfor calls "the greatest crisis of the next decade": Moscow's loss of control over the world's biggest nuclear weapons stockpile.
So I guess I'm not just blowing smoke when I think this:
I've never assumed that Russia was done fragmenting. They lost their eastern European empire. Then lost the non-Russian provinces of the USSR itself. What might Russia lose if the war Putin began to restore Russian glory and empire actually hastens further fragmentation?
Could Putin become the first president of the Grand Duchy of Moscow?
That would solve that land border problem they have.
The problem for us is that we've escaped nuclear disaster through two fragmentations of the Soviet Union. Can we live through a Russian fragmentation without Putin ordering the use of nukes to maintain their territorial integrity?
Will they see NATO's hand in that fragmentation and turn an internal problem of their own making into what they see as an invasion that justifies use of nuclear weapons?
How rational is Putin? Even by Russian standards, let alone ours?
And are any of the people in his inner circle capable of preventing him from acting on such an irrational belief?
I wasn't looking as far as the proliferation threat. We survived one such problem when the USSR broke apart--although Ukraine's experience may make it impossible to pry the weapons from regional hands if Russia does break apart more--and I was more worried about Putin using nukes well before that stage (he sure does like to rattle the nuclear sabre, you must admit).
Oh, and one more thing. Putin has been out of sight for a week:
The Kremlin’s attempts to assure the public that Vladimir Putin is alive and well and still running Russia’s government did not go particularly well on Friday. Media outlets were presented with a tape of President Putin meeting with a senior government official – with no evidence of the date of the meeting. The Kremlin had previously issued photographs found to be several days old – causing more suspicion.
And Russian TV reported on the events of a meeting not scheduled until Monday. When called on that, the network said there had been an error. Indeed.
Rumor is, Russia has an announcement to make this weekend.
We've been watching Russia go quite mad. Sometimes I think I don't worry enough.
UPDATE: More on