So let’s say that the whole Russia-Ukraine war is over in a year or two and, at best, Russia magically completely withdraws its forces and leaves Ukraine as an independent but bombed to smithereens country.
Vast amounts of western aid go into helping Ukrain rebuild and Russia is broken for the time being.
IMHO, while we probably shouldn’t sanction Russia forever, I have a very hard time feeling anything but punitive and angry and I suspect that the west, at the gut level, will have a similar feeling.
Even if a Gorbachev 2.0 surfaces and is severely and appropriately repentant and offers to “do what it takes” to civilize Russia etc, what happens next?
Me personally, I see, even in the best of cases, this having a huge impact for the next couple of decades vis a vis Russia.
“Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.”
For sure it will take decades for Russia to even begin to rebuild any significant trust with large portions of the globe. Certainly not until Putin is gone and even then there are going to need to be some substantial reforms in Russian governance to ensure nothing like Putin happens again. I’m not sure how that could even come about or if it’s realistic.
The loss of Russia (and even a puppet Ukraine) to the world economy is a relative hiccup. As soon as energy supplies and distribution realign, the world will have little economic use for Russia. Russia’s only effect on world markets will be the periodic threat of nuclear holocaust.
Well, except that Russia provides roughly a quarter of the world’s supply crude oil and petroleum condensates, holds 24% of natural gas reserves, and is the sixth or seventh largest reserve of uranium and is a major fuel-grade uranium exporter, exporting about a third of the world market in low enriched uranium. All of these have major consequences, especially if China becomes the only viable trade partner for an indefinitely sanctioned Russia and can squeeze them for rock bottom prices while everyone else is paying a premium for OPEC oil and Australian pitchblende.
This should really serve as a wakeup call that energy independence isn’t just about economics and profit margins but is a genuine national security issue (in addition to the progressive climate hazard of anthropogenic carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions), and why we should be investing heavily in alternative fuels and energy production as well as upgrading the power grid to support renewable and sustainable sources of energy, not for some vague goal in 2040 or 2050 but in the near term of the next five to ten years.
Will we do that? Of course not. Conventional energy interests and their puppets like Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and the entire GOP will ensure that we stay on the same old path of trying to frack and mountaintop removal our way to ‘energy independence’ will ignoring all of the consequences.
You are ignoring (or unaware of) the agricultural contributions of both Ukraine and Russia to the world food supply, which are substantial. They both contain some of the most productive farmland in the world for grain production, and have less problem with water supplies than the North American Great Plains.
Between the two of them that’s 1/3 of the world’s wheat, 1/4 of the world’s maize, a big slice of the world’s barley, ditto for sugar, global top producer of sunflower oil, it’s Europe’s largest producer of honey, … Oh, hell, read the wikipedia entry yourself..
It is highly unlikely that Ukraine is going to be able to harvest or plant this year. Their contributions to the world food supply WILL be missed. Russia just took the “breadbasket of Europe” off the game table for this year.
or here another example: CHILE (color=renewables, greyscale=fossile
My point being:
Russia MIGHT come back to the warm soft bosom of world-trade at one moment of time - just to find out that what they have to sell is no longer really needed! So there is a certain chance that they become akin to Mongolia or some other big but ultimately irrelevant country (ok, they will still have nukes).
I do see a real shift in paradigm here, with world leaders really getting fed up with OIL and its A$$HOLES that seem to come - by default - with it (Ghaddaffi/Hussein/Assad/Khomeini/Putin/Chavez/Maduro/Saudis (and other assorted low-life)) … and that have kept the world in semi-permanent wars for the better part of 50 years
If you factor all those war-costs in, fossiles don’t look so cheap anymore.
While much of the world hopes that Russia goes down in flames, that’s not necessarily the best thing for the world as a whole. If Russia is sanctioned into becoming a 3rd world nation that means you have 144 million people unable to buy basic things like food. Sure, Russia produces a lot of wheat, but they’re not going to give it away, and the Ruble won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Why do people think regime change will be smooth and uneventful? Putin has access to over 6,000 nukes and absolutely nothing to lose. He’s not going to prison and he’s not going to commit suicide. As the peasants storm the Kremlin he will still be in a position to strike out at the West as long as his military stays loyal. Does the world really want to see what happens when you corner a rat?
Russia has to continue to function as a country regardless of who is running it and punishing the Russian people won’t really fix anything. The best-case scenario is a bloodless coup, the least likely scenario IMHO is a bloodless coup.
Right. There’s no guarantee the replacement wouldn’t be of the same. Heck, there’s no guarantee the replacement wouldn’t be a military dictatorship who thinks the real problem isn’t the invading, but the failing at it, and directs more resources to building a better military (guess that could mean an improvement in fighting corruption, though).
But I don’t know enough about Russia’s internal politics to know who the power players are or what the most likely outcome Putin’s removal (or even most likely method of removal) would be.
It’s truly a lose-lose situation for the Russian people, which is sad, but that’s what you get for eschewing democracy and going down the socialist/authoritarian route instead. The Chinese government has managed to dramatically improve the lives of average Chinese people over the past 30 years. You can’t really say the same about the Russian government, and they didn’t have as far to go as the Chinese did.
Within the government Putin has all but eliminated anyone who might attempt a coup. One can see how cowed they are by Putin putting on a show of publicly berating the Director of Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin in front of his cabinet of ministers. I’ve seen it suggested that FSB head Alexander Bortnikov might be angling to replace Putin but I’ll believe it when I see it, and of course a bunch of people have predicted that the oligarchs who owe fealty to Putin might launch an effort to replace him in retaliation for what this war has done for their fortunes and security abroad but quite frankly Putin needs them to wash his money more then he needs them, and even with seizures and sanctions most of them probably have enough money hidden away to life the high life indefinitely.
The bigger concern are the regional politics. The Russian Federation isn’t really a well-unified nation; it is really a conglomeration of administrative districts (oblasts), semi-autonomous republics, and ‘border’ territories (krai), many of which historically conquered by the Russian Empire or absorbed by the Soviet Union and were mostly self-governing for much of their history as long as they fell in line with Russian/Soviet dictum and accepted Russian émigrés. Putin has made a point of abolishing power-sharing and self-autonomy in the past couple of decades, and while there haven’t been the kind of organized campaigns to repress or eradicate the ethnic populations you can imagine that a lot of them are already chafing under current Russian rule even before the effects that sanctions will have on them. A failure of the Putin regime or even just showing weakness in having to retreat from Ukraine may create a cascade of these regions to resist Russian rule, potentially encouraged by China in their efforts to gain more control over petroleum and mineral rights in the region.
In essence, you could see a multipolar civil war that would rend the Russian Federation, and while that might seem to be a good thing on the face of it, it could potentially destabilize bordering nations and result in a general land war across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Given that you would then have four nations with nuclear weapons potentially engaged in such a conflict (not counting North Korea as a wildcard) it becomes an extremely worrying situation about which nobody can really predict the outcome. If Putin were to fall it would be in everyones’ best interests to stabilize and normalize relations with the subsequent regime (assuming, of course, that they aren’t even more aggressive) in the interests of preventing wider war.
People keep making references to World War II and the German annexation of Czechoslovakia, but I think the far better parallel is the First World War or even the Napoleonic Wars where there are many competing interests and uneasy alliances preventing any lasting peace from being struck and eventually leading to a sprawling conflict to the benefit of no one but in which no single party or alliance has enough strength to bring a stop to. Putin’s Russia is not a strong country aspiring to take over all of Europe; it is a weak nation whose leader fears he is being surrounded by a much more capable opponent, and whose best ‘ally’ is a country seeking to take advantage of it at ever turn. This makes for a desperate regime in an unstable scenario, and even the removal of Putin does not change that.
There is so much wrong with that statement that it is difficult to know where to start. “The Russian people” didn’t really have much choice about choosing any real democracy, and if anything it is the Western nations, and especially the United States, who undermined democratic reforms and allowed the national assests to be sold piecemeal to oligarchs at pennies on the dollar while the world looked on. It is true the Russian public doesn’t think much for democracy or capitalism because their experience of it is that they went from bad under the Soviet Gorbachev era to very much worse under Yeltsin, many of the failings engineered by none other than Vladimir Putin, aggravated by Yeltsin’s health problems and erratic behavior. The US, for its part, took a mostly standoff position with respect to the fledgling democracy in Russia, mostly interested in maintaining a supply of cheap oil (even though the US got very little of it) and ensuring that Russia did not return to great power status.
The result is what we have today; a very insular nation with a massive public and institutional distrust of the West and the United States with a general feeling of being besieged by NATO encroachment even though Putin has mostly been left to doing what he wishes with oligarchs ‘washing’ their money through European and American banks and investing it in luxury real estate, and not even subject to serious sanctions for assassination plots that not only sickened or killed political targets abroad but also threatened domestic populations. The Russian people, who essentially have no vote or choice about “the socialist/authoritarian route” that their country has gone down since 2000 and are fed a continuous diet of propaganda, are not to blame for the ascension of Vladimir Putin.
I do so agree. In his miscalculations of international reaction, Putin echoes Wilhelm II, in his overestimation of his forces’ abilities Nicholas II, and now like Napoleon he’s likely to find himself bogged down with no easy exit.