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New time does not even know such mind-blowing projects. It concerns Russian invention of existing at the expense of the enemy while blackmailing and kicking his windows out. This is the strategy of Russian autocracy. The mastermind who came up with the idea to use Western resources was Peter the Great. The founders of the Soviet state turned this idea into a strategy, forcing the desire of capitalism to get profit for themselves, as well as the liberal democratic idea that economic relations would turn the enemy into a partner.
Stalin admitted: "The Americans have helped us a lot. We should admit that their help was better and braver than others’. We are so grateful to them for that." According to him, about two-thirds of the large industrial enterprises of the Soviet Union were built with the help of the United States. Germany's contribution to the creation of the Soviet economy and the military-industrial complex was even more significant. For 10 years (from 1926 to 1936), Germany supplied industrial and military equipment to the Soviet Union for 4 billion marks. As British economist Anthony Sutton has shown, 90-95% of Soviet technology was borrowed from the US and its allies. The West played a huge role in industrialization, and, accordingly, the militarization of the Soviet Union, facilitating the emergence of its enemy.
Another strategic success of Moscow was the "gas in exchange for pipes and money" deal, which the Kremlin concluded with West Germany in 1970 and which allowed the Soviet Union to become a world energy power that turned the "gas diktat" into a powerful political weapon.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian elite demonstrated its ingenuity again, together with Western lobbyists, they created a mechanism for collective privatization of domestic natural rents. The current Russian ruling class managed to do what was beyond the power of the Soviet government – to contribute to the demoralization of Western society and undermining its foundations. However, what are the foundations if the leading Western politicians – Gerhard Schroeder, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, Jacques Chirac – rushed to serve the interests of post-Soviet kleptocracy! Liberal democracies, becoming a factor of mobilization through the search for an "enemy" and an economic resource for post-Soviet Russia, have turned into a systemic "clinch" of the autocracy. Is not it witty to scare the West using its own money and brains?
And suddenly dolce vita began to fall down. Because Kremlin arrogantly decided that the West would turn a blind eye to Crimean annexation and interference in the internal affairs of the West. After all, so many times the West has been pushing back, just not to irritate the cool guys from the Kremlin! This time, liberal democracies were forced to react, for the issue of their internal stability was at stake. Russia blocked the resource hose. Maybe, not completely, but our economy suffered from the air lack. The welfare of the Russian class of rentiers was threatened.
And now what? It is naive to think that the lobbyist leviathan, laundering dirty money in the West (Russian and other), would allow being smashed. No, it will resist with all its might, trying to find new ways of survival. After all, billions and co-opted whole segments of the Western elites are invested in this system. Therefore, the Western establishment will clean up, getting rid of the laziest lobbyists serving the Russian elite. They will go into the shadows. Someone will sit down. But the Russian elite will have to be removed from the eyes of those who have lit up with their defiant wealth and closeness to the Kremlin. Washington defined its ultimatum to Moscow quite specifically: remove Oleg Deripaska from the list key owners of the "RusAl" company, and we will withdraw "RusAl" from sanctions. And we do not want to see Viktor Vekselberg at our place, as well as those whom we named in our April list! Resign yourself to the fact that we leave you in suspense: you might only guess who appears on the next list and when it happens. Although Europe wants to reconcile with Russia, it will have to take into account the American ultimatum.
Western strangulation does not mean, however, the striving to strangle. Who needs Russian collapse or frenzy? But the Western willingness to compromise and the desire to lead Russia out of isolation does not mean a return to pre-Crimean period. We witness how a new system of relations of liberal democracies with Russia is being built up. Instead of the second "Yalta" West offers Moscow another deal. Here is its essence: follow our rules, and we will allow you to enjoy our benefits, but under our control.
The Kremlin is forced to make a choice between aggressive geopolitics and Western resources along with the entrance ticket to the powers' concert as a bonus. And the latter does not mean freedom of action for Moscow. Russia will have to move in a narrow corridor, where each exit for the red flags means squeezing the stranglehold. The West will find funds to hurt it – either to the Russian economy or to the Russian elite. Is it offensive? Of course, but this is the price for Kremlin muggers.
Meanwhile, while we are guessing where Russia is heading, the Russian leader has made its choice. What do you think? Judge for yourself. The Kremlin is trying to butter up Donald Trump, constantly offering him a dialogue about the destinies of the world. The Kremlin silently suffers humiliating slaps from Trump, Recep Erdogan, and Benyamin Netanyahu (what a company!) in Syria. The Kremlin surrenders the "sacrifices" designated by the Americans. Putin promises Angela Merkel not to block the transportation of gas through Ukraine, strengthens confidence with Emmanuel Macron and promises a new Eldorado to Western business in St. Petersburg. "Gazprom" humbly accepts the requirements of the European Commission. Finally, the Kremlin is struggling with Western sanctions inside the country, demonstrating peace on the world stage, so as not to provoke the West to a new tightening of the stranglehold.
Obviously, having tested the opponent’s muscles, Russian authorities came to the conclusion that blackmail with recklessness only throws Russia into a leper camp. And what a delight is sitting there with North Korea and Iran?! Kamikazes do not work in the Kremlin, and they understand that it is possible to better secure their interests through dialogue with the West than through confrontation with them.
However, these tactical maneuvers do not solve the existential problem for Russia, which is called the "total trap". On the one hand, the Kremlin cannot forcefully keep its status (what other resources does Russia have for pressure?), which will provoke a response from the Western world. On the other hand, the Kremlin cannot renounce claims to statehood as a right to its vision of the world order. After all, it is clear what will happen to the systemic body, when it loses its spine; power is the backbone of autocracy.
What should the Kremlin do then? It should play, creating the illusion of power and greatness. But the game will start if only the West agrees to take part in it. If the Western Major League agrees, not the Western trifle. But will the Major League agree to play with this illusions? It's not clear yet. After all, Russia can once again mix up fake and reality...
We will see whether the West plays along with the Kremlin, or drives it into a corner. We will receive an answer when we see how Russia's prosecution for the crash of the Malaysian Boeing will end (or not end). There is one more question: how can the Kremlin cover its retreat and end the accusations of nationalists in betrayal? This is a matter of propaganda machine, which should support the hysteria of military patriotism inside the country. But sooner or later the people will start to ask: why should we fight the enemy if we cooperate with him, and the ruling elite enjoy the delights of life in the enemy camp?
P.S. Do you remember Russian checkers? So, in this game (by the way, Chichikov with Nozdryov played it), the one who deprives himself of the opportunity to move wins. This game is played by the Kremlin. The rest of the world plays other game.
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