By Alan Caruba
We all know that the “sanctions” Obama has placed on a few of Putin’s pals thus far and those Obama wants the European Union to impose will have no affect whatever on Putin’s decision to annex the Crimea from Ukraine.
One of Obama’s solutions to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty includes giving it a billion dollars because Russia has raised the price of the natural gas it sells to the Ukraine. This means Putin just made a billion while reacquiring Crimea.
One way to bring Russia to its knees would be for Obama--if he could--to impose the same things he is doing in America on the Russian Federation:
# Require Russia to adopt Obamacare.
# Ban the mining and use of coal in Russia.
# Do not allow any drilling on Russian publicly-held land.
# Redefine the Russian work week to 30 hours.
# Raise the Russian minimum wage.
# Mandate overtime pay for Russian government workers.
# Demand that Russia pay welfare benefits to its illegal immigrants.
# Require Russia to enact the same regulations as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
# Increase the Russian national debt by $6 trillion dollars.
# Require Russia to reduce all elements of its military force and capabilities by reductions to its military budget.
These policies since 2009 have weakened the United States and, if applied to Russia, they would have the same affect. It’s bad enough what Obama has done and is doing to the U.S., but neither we nor the rest of the world would be better off with a weak Russia. Its economy is too tied into the world’s.
Putin insists that it was the West led by the U.S. that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 after seventy years of communist rule, but it was Communism that brought it to its knees. The other element was a decline in the prices of oil and natural gas--still the primary source of income for the Russian Federation—that undermined its economy.
While a panoply of experts keeps talking about the prospect of Russia aggression toward its former satellite nations in Eastern Europe, the simple fact is that Putin’s reacquisition of the Crimea just added to Russia’s financial pressures. He can barely afford Crimea. All the hand-wringing about its annexation ignores the fact that it was part of Russia for hundreds of years.
Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, recently spelled out Russia’s economic woes in a Wall Street Journal commentary titled “Putin’s Potemkin Economy.”
“Mr. Putin’s real power base, the economy, is crumbling,” says Sharma. “Russia’s economic growth rate has plummeted from the 7% average annual pace of the last decade to 1.3% last year,” adding that “the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has been fighting to prevent a ruble collapse since the Crimean crisis began.”
Does that sound like a Russia that wants to invade its neighbors at this time?
“The result,” says Sharma, “is that the Russian state has few new sources of income outside of oil and gas, at a time when it is taking on more dependents” in Crimea. As for the rest of the Ukraine population, it’s only the younger generation that did not grow up under the oppression of the former Soviet Russia that thinks giving up its sovereignty is a good idea. Ukrainians with a memory of the pre-1991 days know better.
Europe, much of which depends on Russian gas, will be in no hurry to punish Russia beyond a few relatively meaningless sanctions. It’s all a charade.
It’s true that Europe went to war twice for far less reason than the Crimean annexation, but its present leaders have no wish to repeat that error for all the talk about international law.
What is being debated now is whether Putin will, for whatever reason, invade Ukraine. Only Putin knows that and the decision would be a bad one for him and everyone else.
As we strive to survive Obama’s war on the U.S. economy and the current havoc resulting from Obamacare, it is doubtful that even Obama has any inclination to see Russia collapse and could not reverse the Crimean situation even if he cared about it.
He doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing to the rest of us so it’s the war at home which we have to survive.
© Alan Caruba, 2014