Tuesday, December 06, 2016

On the Cusp of a Resurgent Russia?

I'm skeptical:

After enduring three years of a foundering economy and feuds with the West, things may be looking up for Russia. The Brexit vote in June exposed the deep discord in the European Union, giving Moscow a glimmer of hope that dissenting member states might break the bloc's consensus on its sanctions against Russia in a future vote on their renewal. Though EU members decided unanimously in July to extend the measures, upcoming elections on the Continent could undermine the bloc's unity. In the United States, meanwhile, Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election has opened a potential path to warmer relations between the United States and Russia, and perhaps even an end to Washington's sanctions on Moscow.

I don't know. I'm not so sure that Putin can ride the Trump train to resurgence given that Putin seems to need the fiction of a hostile West to prop him up; and given that the post-Russo-Georgian War Obama administration "reset" has been followed by Russian war on Ukraine, intervention in Syria--with the "refugee attack" on Europe following, threats to Western nations (in and out of NATO) to the west of Russia (including nuclear threats), and Russian information war in Western states.

The bad taste that first "reset" left is likely to be an obstacle to a big league outreach to Russia.

On the receiving end, I honestly think Russian paranoia under Putin is too great to overcome any outreach. At best, Russia is willing to pretend a bit to get short-term advantage.

Oh, and I am especially skeptical of the analysis after reading this:

Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine, and Moscow annexed the region and extended support to a separatist rebellion in Ukraine's eastern part of the country.

Really? Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine rather than Russia executing a subliminal invasion (via the "little green men") of the region?

And there was an actual separatist rebellion in Ukraine's Donbas rather than being an astro-turfed Russian-staffed "rebellion" combined with a far less successful subliminal invasion?


Nor does the article even mention China's efforts to supplant Russian influence in Central Asia, speaking of it in terms of  a Russia-West competition.

I expect better from Stratfor.