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Russian Security and Geopolitics

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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Russian Security and Geopolitics
    Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 15:57
Early and mid twentieth century geographers who indentified with geopolitics viewed Russia, the Ukraine and central Asia as the "Heartland" of the Eurasian land mass.  This was perceived by several of them as the key to both an unassailable defensive bastion and to self sufficiency, with contiguous access through modern transportation (railways/canals).
 
The demise of the USSR has detached both the agricultural Ukraine and control of the energy resources of much of central Asia from the Russian "empire."  Since the later 1990s, strategic thinking and actions have sought to re-establish Russian influence as far as possible in these areas.
 
Also, the role of Russia as a potential counterweight to both China and to the US has been a goal set by Russian leadership.
 
Russia has historically been, if not hostile, distrustful of "the West," or Europe beyond the river Nieman, and of western society.  There still seems to be an almost romantic nostalgia for Old Russia and of Russia's own perception of Russian civilization.  Russian expansion to south and east in the 19th century was similar to US expansion across North America.
 
The detachment of central Asian territories, acquired at great effort under the Empire has been a loss in terms of economic and strategic value.  The loss of Ukraine is a monumental loss as much arable land of the USSR was removed, putting stress on what was not an efficiently developed part of Russia's economy.
 
In both of these geographical regions, the West, in the form of NATO has been seen as an interloper, unwelcome and threatening to Russian interests.  In this regard, the West is still seen as a security concern for Russia especially the military resources expended by the US in Germany, the Caucasus (Georgia/Azerbaijan) and until recently in Uzbekistan.  Thus:
 
1)  Western (US) military presence, even as advisors, and new missile shields in Europe are seen as infringements on Russian interests, security and prestige.
 
2)  The diversion of hydrocarbon resources from central Asia to other states' uses limits both economic benefit and strategic control in a sensitive geography for Russian interests.
 
In addition, the loss of direct control over the central Asian states has created potential strategic and political security issues for Russia.  Not only had US forces been deployed to Uzbekistan, but India is maintaining an air base now in Tadjikistan, though not seen as directed against Russia.  In addition, Islamist influences, official or otherwise, are less able to be controlled by security forces in these independent republics.
 
Not yet mentioned, but ultimately most important, Russia and China share a very long border, and have had an historically tense relationship since the emergence of Russian influence, railroads and troops in the East in the late 19th century.  Even as Communist states, they were rivals with their own geopolitical issues (Russia-Viet Nam; Sino-American relations under Nixon, etc.)
 
3)  China is seen as a longer term security concern along the Asian border, with long and vulnerable Russian economic lines of communication to the Pacific.  As Sparten has observed elsewhere, there is a serious lack of strategic depth along this line, and China, as a resource hungry state (with her own historic sense of civilization) may at some time infringe on Asiatic Russia's natural raw materials and hydroelectric resources.
 
Although the "Heartland" is undeniably a strong defensive position strategically, it is as yet undetermined if Russia can overcome her diminishment as a great power.  Internally, there are still systemic problems yet to be solved:
 
4)  As part of her economic security, Russia needs to promote demand for Russian products outside Russia....This has always been a problem.  Outside of oil, capital has been insufficiently created.
 
Oil and Gas are the current world riches, but foreign business primarily determined by one commodity with historic price fluctuations is insufficiently diverse.  Much of that income has been allocated for rebuilding the military forces (for use against whom?)
 
Russia's population is somewhat less than a third that of North America, and one tenth that of China, and with a declining birth rate.
 
5)  Russia's international influence has been lessened since the early 1990s, but energetic leadership has sought to recover some important aspects of it.  The primary leverage for this influence continues to be control over hyrdocarbon resources, and their potential denial, with the defensive military backup of nuclear strike capability (including submarines).  Russia's peripheral capabilities in terms of overall naval power are currently much reduced and not adequately postioned for strategic effect.
 
These are the primary security concerns (as seen by the writer) for the Russian republic.
 
Comments?
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 08-Jun-2008 at 13:30
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  Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 16:12
I have made the argument before that Putin persues a race based (Ethnic Russian) policy towards Ukraine and Georgia. I think people said I was worse than Hitler, Stalin and all the other horrible people combined! Good luck.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 16:16
Dominant populations often have done so.  It can be viewed as part of an elite's (or group of elites') security perceptions.
 
I would ask that we stick to geopolitical factors though.  Less emotion there.
 
 
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  Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 17:28
I would say it's a very good summary. However, IMO the most important factor of the resurrection of the Russian "Imperialistic ambitions" is extremely unwise and hostile policy of the West. A very opitimistic start of the post Soviet Russia which wanted to see itself as  "a part of the West" eventually turned back to the old ideology of confrontation, simply because the West doesn't want to see Russia as a part of it.
 
As a result, Russia has not choice but to stick to the old "imperial" agenda.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 17:44
I think for the time being the agenda is "Don't disregard us, and do not take us for granted either."  Whether Russia has an unarticulated old imperial agenda or a "new" imperial agenda may have to wait until Putin and Medvedev are superceded in office.
 
In recent months (can't remember when) there were hints that Belarus would re-attach itself to Russia.  Nothing further has been said, but at some time there may be something to it.  That would have brought Russia directly to Poland's frontier again.  Not welcome to the Poles, and the whole thing may have been for NATO consumption.  Who knows?
 
I think the biggest losses were Ukraine and the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea (Baku).
 
Even though Kazakhstan takes away a good bit of the former border with China, realistically, in the event of military conflict, that territory would probably be heavily impacted, and without Russian troops there, the advantage would be to China.
 
I am sure Putin & Co. would like to have all that back.
 
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 18:16
Russia wrt to China is very vulnerable on the Vladivostock axis, little or no strategic dept there.
 
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  Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2008 at 18:39
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

I think for the time being the agenda is "Don't disregard us, and do not take us for granted either."  Whether Russia has an unarticulated old imperial agenda or a "new" imperial agenda may have to wait until Putin and Medvedev are superceded in office.
 
In recent months (can't remember when) there were hints that Belarus would re-attach itself to Russia.  Nothing further has been said, but at some time there may be something to it.  That would have brought Russia directly to Poland's frontier again.  Not welcome to the Poles, and the whole thing may have been for NATO consumption.  Who knows?
 
 
 
Unfortunately, for Russia the union with Belarus is just a dream. The negotiations on such union has been there for almost 20 years already and right now is actually not the peak of the "friendly" relations. The peak perhaps was about 8 years ago when Belarus was indeed supposed to unite with Russia. There are numerous inter governmental organizations between the 2 states on different levels but nothing really progressing. Lukashenko of Belarus wouldn't give up his leadership in any form. Another "good" news on this re-unification process is that Russia recently decided to rise the fees for gas supplies to Belarus. Smile
 
 
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

I think the biggest losses were Ukraine and the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea (Baku).
 
Even though Kazakhstan takes away a good bit of the former border with China, realistically, in the event of military conflict, that territory would probably be heavily impacted, and without Russian troops there, the advantage would be to China.
 
I am sure Putin & Co. would like to have all that back.
 
Well. Perhaps Putin & Co. would want a lot. But the dreams to get everything that was lost back; are just the dreams for now. And honestly, I believe that the only chance for Russia to stop PRC in a potential conflict would be the use of nuclear weapons (the real factor which allows Russia to remain on the top of the world geopolitical agenda, besides the energy resources of course).
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  Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2008 at 17:25
From what we can observe there are a number of factors leading to the way Russia has been acting in international affairs and all of them are obvious to us.

. Western ignorance towards Russia since the Cold War along with NATO expansion that has edged ever so closer to Russia's traditional borders.

. Russia's sad state in the 1990's under Boris Yeltsin from which the West received some blame

. The economic resurgence and increased domestic confidence of the Putin years has translated into some additional foreign confidence for Russia.

. The Putin years and the more assertive and nationalistic attitude in foreign affairs that is confrontational with the West.

. Russian moves and attempts to dramatically increase influence over former Soviet States which makes one wonder if something like the old USSR is trying to be reestablished?

I wonder what all of this bodes for in the for in the future in regards to Russia?        


Edited by Kevin - 08-Jun-2008 at 17:29
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2008 at 20:56
The Russian elites, whether political or academic, are aware of historical conepts of geopolitical theory, as well as the more mundane matters of oil and resources.
 
Russia needs to be taken seriously as a factor, and her trump card is a wealth of resources.  According to some geopolitical theory, the Eurasian Heartland, dominated by the presence of Russia (now minus Ukraine and much of central Asia) cannot exert influence in her own interests without the cooperation of, or dominating either China or North America.  Dominating either of those is hardly likely anymore, so Russia needs to bargain from a perceived position of strength.  Some of that is stage managed by publicity and assertive behavior.  Assertiveness does not necessarily imply long term confrontation.  Putin's assertiveness on the missile shield systems in Europe got him nothing of value, but NATO expansion was shelved for the time being....not killed, just shelved.  (Ukraine likely will never be a NATO member, and Russia can exert pressure on Ukraine.)
 
To a great degree the same situation is faced by the US and also by China.  None can dominate the others like The US and USSR came to dominate the European world empires after WW II.  The great game going into this century may see Russia attempting to play the balancer in a more tri-polar geopolitical landscape.  The Russians are smart.  Their problem is that there are only 140,000,000 of them.
 
The question becomes where do the regional powers like India and Iran come in?  That is not a particular Russian problem.  Russia needs something to sell to either/both the US and China to make her influence effective.  That can be economic or strategic depending on the development of relations in certain geographies.
 
(This whole thing may need to be explored by more consideration of "Heartland," "Rimland," World Islands," and some geopolitical-speak from before the new century.  That would need another thread.)
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 09-Jun-2008 at 01:15
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2008 at 16:51

I debated whether to place this post in Current Events since it was based on the publication of an article in the Washington Post, but I decided to add it to this thread on Russian Security in the geopolitical subforum.

The President of the Brookings Institution, Mr. Strobe Talbot, wrote that Russia's propaganda on its Georgia operation "turns reality, and history, upside down."  He cites analogies on Serbia/Kosovo and Georgia/S. Ossetia; Abkhazia as bogus, etc.  He also notes statements by Russian For Min S. Lavrov that Georgia can forget about getting the two pro-Russian territories back.

As far as I can see, Lavrov, as a sophisticated and experienced diplomat, is not speaking off the cuff.  He is stating Russian policy, as much as is General A. Nogovitsyn of the General Staff.
 
Mr. Talbot represents the 1990s euphoria when, indeed, history was turned upside down.  Russia was a cripple, reviled and made fun of.  Those abberant days are evidently over, and history is now back on track.
 
It seems generally agreed around here that Russia is re-establishing herself as a great power, at least in the part of Eurasia that is most critical to her interests.  Mr. Talbot gushes over Boris Yeltsin's disestablishment of the boundaries of the USSR as if that was some revolution in international politics.  Now, he is alarmed at Russia's "ominous new doctrine."  In reality, this is a very historic doctrine.
 
Russia is intent on re-establishing buffers against any potential incusions by strong powers on her borders.  Buffer zones have been Russia's fortress walls at least since Peter the Great and arguably long before that.
 
Mr. Talbot, a "world federation" advocate, clings to the mirage of being able to "bring democracy" to places where it is foreign.  In this sense, he is on mark with the recent neocon theorists.  Mr. Talbot also professes himself to have been impressed with V. Putin's expression of Russia's "Western vocation" or orientation.
 
If this is, as I suspect, the usual example of Ivy League egg-head policy consultant that the government establishment treasures, it is little wonder that the US is now involved in her dilemma within the Russian sphere of influence.
 
It will evidently be Russian policy to re-establish her hegemony in various important spheres of influence, even if it is by dominating exSoviet bordering states (and excluding China) by overwhelming military capability.  This policy, as obsessed over by the Washington policy wonks and their academic familiars, is not necessarily a threat to US vital interests, but does reflect Russian vital interests.
 
Historical thinking here has again been ignored and buried by political idealism, and that should be reassessed.  Although well educated, Mr. Talbot, as an influential policy person, should lay aside the world federation mythology and recognize the geoplolitical realities.  US policy may indeed require Russia as some kind of partner in the future.  US policy needs to recognize Russia's historical interests and move on.
 
A bit too wordy and editorial, I suppose, but I don't apologize.
 
  
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 20-Aug-2008 at 23:09
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  Quote Bankotsu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Aug-2008 at 06:07
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Mr. Talbot, a "world federation" advocate, clings to the mirage of being able to "bring democracy" to places where it is foreign. 
 
  
 


That is a cranky idea, but there are lobbyists for that.

http://www.worldfederalistscanada.org
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/CO
http://www.world-democracy.org
http://www.wfm.org/site/index


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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Aug-2008 at 15:06
Originally posted by Bankotsu

Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Mr. Talbot, a "world federation" advocate, clings to the mirage of being able to "bring democracy" to places where it is foreign. 
 
  
 


That is a cranky idea, but there are lobbyists for that.

http://www.worldfederalistscanada.org
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/CO
http://www.world-democracy.org
http://www.wfm.org/site/index


 
Well, I am cranky, and those people are welcome to waste their time if they want.
 
 
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  Quote Władysław Warnencz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 16:56
Originally posted by Kevin


. Russian moves and attempts to dramatically increase influence over former Soviet States which makes one wonder if something like the old USSR is trying to be reestablished?

 
How dare you suggest Putin and his humble servants are trying to reestablish something like the old USSR! LOL 
 
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  Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 17:06
Dead Disgusting. It were Georgian who attacked on the day of the Olympics. Please don't put on their sholders someone else responsibility.
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  Quote Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 17:27
Originally posted by Sarmat12

Dead Disgusting. It were Georgian who attacked on the day of the Olympics. Please don't put on their sholders someone else responsibility.

Com on, it is not that black and white, Ossetinians were shelling Georgian villages with they artillery week before. So hot blooded Georgians responded to that provocation. Russian peacekeepers somehow turned blind eye on that Wink.
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  Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 17:39
It's Georgian propaganda. Because they both were shelling each other. And yes, Russian peacekeeprs tried to stop this.
 
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  Quote Władysław Warnencz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 18:30
Originally posted by Sarmat12

It's Georgian propaganda. Because they both were shelling each other. And yes, Russian peacekeeprs tried to stop this.
 
 
 
You really believe a small nation like the georgians would dare risking a war with Russia without provokation?
 
 
And all know russians are the masters of false propaganda,because they've mastered this skill throughout history.Gerogians can't match them (no one can)... LOL


Edited by Władysław Warnencz - 20-Aug-2008 at 18:32
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  Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 18:50

Yes, I believe so absolutely, because there are videos of Georgian rockets flying in masse into the direction of the Ossetian villages recorded many hours before the Russian troops started to move into Ossetia and many similar videos and evidence.

That is hardcopy evidence which can't be falsified.

Also, the Georgian president is simply lying I read his interview when he said that he was not aware of the conflict and was preparing to go to the Olympics. How could he lie in such a outright way when he himself ordered the attack?

And please tell me why do you think that American propaganda is more truthworthy than Russian?

If I understand correctly you are from Poland, and you probably have some stereotypes about the Russian policies.

But believe me criticizing everything Russia does won't help Poland. Russia reacted hard only because of the bizzare move of Saakasvhili who started the whole thing.

Why don't you want to examine the origins of the conflict and why do you think that everything anti-Russian is good a priori. It's not that simple believe me.

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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 23:04
Let's keep this on geopolitics and not Current Affairs.  There are threads in C.A. where the arguments about who started what this month can be hashed out.
 
Thanks.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 20-Aug-2008 at 23:34
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2008 at 23:10
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

I debated whether to place this post in Current Events since it was based on the publication of an article in the Washington Post, but I decided to add it to this thread on Russian Security in the geopolitical subforum.

The President of the Brookings Institution, Mr. Strobe Talbot, wrote that Russia's propaganda on its Georgia operation "turns reality, and history, upside down."  He cites analogies on Serbia/Kosovo and Georgia/S. Ossetia; Abkhazia as bogus, etc.  He also notes statements by Russian For Min S. Lavrov that Georgia can forget about getting the two pro-Russian territories back.

As far as I can see, Lavrov, as a sophisticated and experienced diplomat, is not speaking off the cuff.  He is stating Russian policy, as much as is General A. Nogovitsyn of the General Staff.
 
Mr. Talbot represents the 1990s euphoria when, indeed, history was turned upside down.  Russia was a cripple, reviled and made fun of.  Those abberant days are evidently over, and history is now back on track.
 
It seems generally agreed around here that Russia is re-establishing herself as a great power, at least in the part of Eurasia that is most critical to her interests.  Mr. Talbot gushes over Boris Yeltsin's disestablishment of the boundaries of the USSR as if that was some revolution in international politics.  Now, he is alarmed at Russia's "ominous new doctrine."  In reality, this is a very historic doctrine.
 
Russia is intent on re-establishing buffers against any potential incusions by strong powers on her borders.  Buffer zones have been Russia's fortress walls at least since Peter the Great and arguably long before that.
 
Mr. Talbot, a "world federation" advocate, clings to the mirage of being able to "bring democracy" to places where it is foreign.  In this sense, he is on mark with the recent neocon theorists.  Mr. Talbot also professes himself to have been impressed with V. Putin's expression of Russia's "Western vocation" or orientation.
 
If this is, as I suspect, the usual example of Ivy League egg-head policy consultant that the government establishment treasures, it is little wonder that the US is now involved in her dilemma within the Russian sphere of influence.
 
It will evidently be Russian policy to re-establish her hegemony in various important spheres of influence, even if it is by dominating exSoviet bordering states (and excluding China) by overwhelming military capability.  This policy, as obsessed over by the Washington policy wonks and their academic familiars, is not necessarily a threat to US vital interests, but does reflect Russian vital interests.
 
Historical thinking here has again been ignored and buried by political idealism, and that should be reassessed.  Although well educated, Mr. Talbot, as an influential policy person, should lay aside the world federation mythology and recognize the geopolitical realities.  US policy may indeed require Russia as some kind of partner in the future.  US policy needs to recognize Russia's historical interests and move on.
 
A bit too wordy and editorial, I suppose, but I don't apologize.
 
  
 
 
Sarmat12:
 
Can you comment on this from a geopolitical perspective?
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 20-Aug-2008 at 23:23
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