Friday, May 06, 2016

Nice Try

The Russians are worried about holding the land that they--in part--seized from China in the 19th century when China was weak. China is no longer weak.

Yeah, this isn't going to convince people to move east:

Call it the Muscovite version of "manifest destiny." On Monday, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that offers every Russian citizen a tract of land in their country's remote Far East. ...

Those interested in the venture can hold their hectare (about 2.5 acres) free of payment or tax for five years. After that, they would receive titles to their plot provided they have put it to use in the prior years. ...

About 7.4 million Russians populate the entire Russian Far East. Just across the frigid border with China, there's a booming population of more than 100 million people in the northeast of that country.

In recent years, Moscow has grown alarmed at the prospect of a Sinification of its Far East, with the entrance of Chinese businesses into the region and the emergence of Chinese communities compensating for the labor shortfalls. There's an inexorable demographic argument: Birthrates on the Russian side of the border are in decline; on the Chinese side, they are on the rise.

So in 2021, Russian settlers would have to again pay taxes.

What is it about that year?

Oh yeah, that's when a Russian-Chinese treaty suspending border disputes in the Far East is dead.

Russia hoped they'd recover their power by then. That isn't happening. Russia will be able to taunt the Chinese or nuke them, with little capability in between.

So what have the Russians been doing since the Soviet Union fell and took their military superiority over  China with it?

Pissing off the West which has not been a threat to Russia.

For 20 years, despite adding new NATO members from the USSR's former colonial possessions in eastern Europe, NATO has had little military power in the east to avoid provoking Russia. Yet Russia whined and painted nothing into a picture of a NATO threat to Holy Mother Russia, showing that the Russians are self-provoked.

Yet we continue to fret over how we might provoke the Russians by responding to their conventional and nuclear threats and actual military aggression against Ukraine in violation of Russian commitments to refrain from doing just that.

How little has our so-called threat been? So little that the prospect of 4 NATO battalions going east has sent Russia into renewed paranoid fantasies that oddly seem to give them comfort (See? We knew NATO was out to get us!!):

"This would be a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders," Andrei Kelin, a department head at the [Russian Foreign Ministry], said. "I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, which the Russian Defence Ministry is already talking about."

Yes, forming three new divisions has already been planned, so it is hardly a response to our plan.

Instead of making peace with the West which has no interest and no ability to attack Russia, Russia has alienated the West and sucked up to China, and now hopes a flood of Russian civilians into the Far East will be a speed bump to any Chinese ambitions that resurface in 2021.

I wonder if that aspect of their presence is highlighted in the recruiting brochures appealing to potential Russian homesteaders?

I mean, the Chinese rulers wouldn't see expansion into Russia's Far East as a solution to desperate people in China's northeast, would they?

Ah Russian strategery in action. Anger the militarily weak source of security and prosperity they could have had in the west, which encourages weakness that may tempt a rising power in the east to solve problems at Russia's expense.

Chimps with nukes, they are these days.

UPDATE: If economic motives could push China to a foreign adventure at Russia's expense, China's efforts to suppress reporting of bad economic news should cause sleepless nights in the Kremlin.

But no, the Russians would rather go into a tizzy over a handful of NATO battalions in eastern Europe.