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The Kingdom is not a NATO member, much less one applying for European Union accession. It’s alliance with the west may be based on its defense of its own power and prestige in Sunni Islam (vs the Shiite anchorage in Iran) and on related defense, development, and trade needs.

Turkey no longer teeters on the “brink of Islamization”.

Over the course of many years, President Erdogan has managed to eviscerate the pillars of the westward-leaning government developed by Kemal Ataturk, starting with the neutralization of the generals and ending just about with the throttling of Turkey once free press. When President Putin leveraged Erdogan into an apology over the shooting down of a trespassing Russian jet, that signaled the end of common western interest within Ankara as regards the NATO agreement.

This one video clip foreshadows more recent events and serves as illustration of Moscow’s deal making realpolitik:

So Moscow has won, eh?

Not necessarily.

The anachronistic feudal systems that Putin (and Khamenei) wish to sustain in services to their own politically absolute power (dictatorship / kleptocracy) have ways of losing money and pissing off modern constituents. Moscow has been running down its state cash reserves for some time by way of criminal behavior that has spurred capital flight for years, induced the west into the application of sanctions, and promoted alternative energy sourcing that has driven down the oil revenues on which Moscow had counted for growth. Here’s the kicker: the less immediately fluid wealth of the Russian Federation has been parked in WESTERN banking institutions and valuable assets protected by rule of law!

Russia cannot expect to move to conventional war. It hasn’t the money to support related industry and troops. Instead, if offers its nuclear threat, which is a potent headache for everyone, and the more criminal and insidious permutations of combined “hybrid warfare”, which really combines the most underhanded methods in the subversion of target states while also totally managing the image of conflict and enjoy the benefits of transnational crime.


I smile because I — and you — should cry.

As I tire of making the same assertions over and over again as regards the “end of the end of the Cold War” (but we would like to avoid a “hot war”, right?), I may only suggest here a visit to my blog — https://conflict-backchannels.com/ — and perhaps spending some time with Agnia Grigas’s book on Crimea — http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300214505.

The world on display in the Moscow Grand Mosque video is the one held together by President Putin and arrangements he’s made that serve the interests of a now privileged social set using hyper modern tools of political repression. They have gone back to secret police, centralized power, and both a nervous and reactionary class of immensely patronized wealthy.

The People?

Who cares?

In the feudal states, The People will have their patriotism and religion, just like in the olden days . . . .

Reference: The Power of Money

Several of the following news reports appear to feed from the same source but with each their own flavor.  No matter.  The point made here is that Russia’s easiest money has been hit hard by time: capital flight; reduced oil revenues; sanctions –> depleted ready cash.  Other wealth rides in banks, luxury assets, and markets, but for both western conflict analysts and Russian citizens outside of the “systema”, the money appears to be running out and domestic hardship appears already in the numbers.


Here’s an excerpt from observations published over the winter:

According to the Russian Finance Ministry, only 10 of Russia’s 85 official regions — most of them commodity producers and metropolitan areas with substantial tax bases — are economically or financially stable, down by half since 2015. Of the country’s remaining regions, 30 manage to scrape by because direct federal subsidies make up at least 33% of their revenues. Half of the $3.5 billion in subsidies that the Kremlin disburses each year goes to just 10 of those regions: Dagestan, Chechnya, Yakutia, Kamchatka, Crimea, Altai, Tuva, Buryatia, Stavropol and Bashkortostan. That leaves more than half of Russia’s regions struggling to fulfill their social obligations and meet the federal government’s demands for funding.

Seventy of Russia’s regions send 63% of the income they generate to the federal budget, keeping only the remaining 37%. The federal government, meanwhile, returns at most 20% of the money by way of subsidies and intergovernmental transfers.


Related World Bank data, albeit covering Russia’s expanded impoverishment only through 2015: http://povertydata.worldbank.org/poverty/country/RUS

Reference: The Russian “Mafia State”

As the fabulously wealthy – such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – buy ever bigger yachts and build ever bigger mansions, the average Russian is becoming ever poorer.

Many ordinary men and women live in desperate conditions and last year a staggering 19.2 million people – or 13.4% of the population – were officially living in poverty .

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/inside-vladimir-putins-new-russia-9976578 – 3/6/2017

Belarus, Chechnya and Russia are virtual “mafia states” and Ukraine is going to be one. For each of those countries, one cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and organized crime groups. Economic influence, sooner or later always reaches political power. a key factor in a government’s ability to combat OC depends on the extent to which the country’s best attorneys and law firms represent the mafia.

The vory v zakone do not engage in racketeering and murder, preferring to distance themselves from this activity and focus on crimes that are further up in the hierarchy, such as corruption of high-level ministers. The level of power that vory v zakone operate at is indicated by their level of interaction with these public servants, because cabinet-level officials do not spend time with unimportant people and cannot be tempted by those who do not have something important to offer.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/russian-organized-crime.htm – 2/18/2017 by David Cay Johnston


http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_security_concerns_russian_mafia_back_on_agenda7083 – 7/25/2016 Republished in Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/putin-welcomes-return-russian-mafia-484083