The trade-off between sovereignty and income
A very insightful analysis that goes well paired with Vladislav Surkov's 2018 essay "The Loneliness of the Half-Breed" (https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/the-loneliness-of-the-half-breed/).
Doesn't this approach underestimate the structural constraints within which regimes, even the strongest, have to operate? North Korea can only maintain her sovereignty because of its form of "state socialism", largely independent of international capitalism. Russia is still capitalistic, although with strong state centered structures. And isn't there the necessity of closer relations with a China that will limit its sovereignty? And Russia can still profit from its place in OPEC, and the high prices for oil that this implies. The strong position of the emerging economies like the oil producing countries and the growing economic importance of China, India and Indonesia put a limit on the possibilities of the West isolating Russia.
I think the conceptual framework of this analysis is a bit biased. Wealth is a function of peace. (For example, before the larcenist - Cortez - arrived in the new land, the Aztech empire was much richer than Span. Similarly, China and Persia were tremendously rich empires that were ruined by the Chingiz-Han's Mongol army). Trade is an instrument that transforms wealth into capital. Capitalism makes sure that capital is protected, so it increases wealth. (The swindler named Cortez robbed Aztech but Spain couldn't build capitalism to put the looted wealth into the working capital. Instead, England did nail it quite well). Trade requires cooperation and clear rules and guarantees. This means that some sovereignty needs to be sacrificed by all parties engaged in trade.
When it comes to Putin's 'quagmire', everything should be viewed in simple terms. At some point, Putin and his circle decided that Russia is in a strategic rivalry with the US (Yeltsin was in Gorbachev's camp and both accepted that the Pax Americana world is supreme). Everything that Russia has done so far is exactly a response to the USA's advancement. The Ukrainian war is the test of tactical weaponry that both sides have at their disposal. In Syria and some African countries, Russian proved that it has the capabilities to win by a lot. The war in Ukraine is quite different; it is all about who can win on the battlefield. If Russian sustains its claims and gets Nash equilibrium (with respect to the US) in Donbas, the Pax Americana will officially end. So, until the last Ukrainian soldier/partizan fall, the war will annihilate the population of both Russia and Ukraine.
The idea that a ruling class in a given country can arbitrate between income and sovereignty makes sense. But in your analysis, you forget that we are talking in russia about a ruling class, with its own economic and political interests, its blatant lack of common decency, not about a nation making a democratic decision through elected bodies.
> How to make the rupture permanent? The only way to do so is to make the costs of returning to the West extraordinary high. That is, to make sure that, when the first feelers of reconciliations are sent by the post-Putin governments, the bill submitted by the West will be so high that most of the Russian policy-making elite and the public opinion will reject it out of hand.
During WWII, the UK and US didn't really have a choice about allying with the USSR against Germany, because it was Germany that declared war on the USSR and later the US. However, the US did have a choice about arming the USSR - and decided it was worth it.
So if NATO comes to see Russia as the lesser evil relative to some other threat, there exists a precedent for making tough decisions to establish a cooperative relationship. That said, precedents don't matter if no one has the will to follow them.
You are so ignorant about Russia it's Insane
An interesting viewpoint. However, there's a possibility to gain neither sovereignity not wealth. RF us turning to China to fill it's trading options, so the country is going to get integrated with the east instead of the West. With the same idea of "we don't have to develop industries, we can sell oil and gas and and get the rest from Asian countries... Building up soverenity requires ideology. It does exist but is now buried under the nihilism of mass culture
There is a big difference between North Korea and Russia. North Korea had been in isolation for almost 80 years. It had started down that path with a society barely being industrialised, and modernised. Over the course of years they have slowly improved the technological and industrial base of the society relying mostly on their own resources and few trading partners they had (PRC, USSR, etc.). However, Russia had been integrated in last 30 years into the global economy. As a consequence of that, their industry and infrastructure were also integrated and moreover became dependant on foreign components and spare parts. As the sanctions drag on, the infrastructure and industry is going to experience breakdowns and failures. The complete economy of Russia will slowly grind to a stand still. Replacing failing components and spare parts with Chinese made, might help in small percent of cases but it won't be possible on such a scale without investing years if not decades in overhauling pretty much everything built in Russia.
Your theory is that Kremlin's perception is that ....:
" in order to regain its economic and political autonomy, it needs to break decisively with the West. It needs to become an independent Eurasian power whose interaction with Europe will be limited to the minimum. Eventually, Russia has to move in the direction opposite from the one charted by Peter the Great in the early 18th century."
..... become a Eurasian power, fully sovereign, untrammeled by treaties and rules, and free of Western ideologies of Marxism and liberalism.":
...breaking off of all links between Russia and the West, and thus freeing Russia to follow its own course."
Whether your theory is true depends on whether it makes accurate predictions. Such a prediction may be that Russia discontinues its earlier policies. Do you see that? To what extent do you see it?
As far as my reading of Russian-based media goes, there is barely any sign of such discontinuation.
Interesting post, as always. Putin address in February 21 and other Lavrov statements are in the direction of Russian government giving up any hopes of friendship with US and seeks geostrategic autonomy. Historical facts give credit to Putin words. But now the enemy is not only US and UK but also EU (although somehow divided). It is a big stake. So big that another hypothesis is possible: that by pushing forward NATO borders US has started its "mother of battles" to remain the world Hegemon against pretendant China. May be the bigger surprise is the EU enthusiastic surrender – remember Ursula Von der Leyen – to US interest.
This theory has the implication that one has to support appeasement towards Russia in order to thwart the Kremlin's plans. But that appeasement just will be another win of the Kremlin. So accepting this theory means accepting Russia's leaders are in a "win win" situation. No reasonable person should think that way. It makes no sense.
Yes, this model of Kremlin's thinking sounds about right to me. A few thoughts:
1. Petrine model is not dependence on Europe, it's domination of Eastern Europe using european solutions. Now its simply unavailable. The whole tradeoff is recent, the product of globalization.
2. The "Russia in Europe" option is frankly unappealing, and was so for the last decades. It's not that security and prosperity of Belgium is anywhere like on offer for Russia. In geopolitical terms the best option is to become what Ukraine is now between the West and Russia, but between the West and China - the western bulwark of no intrinsic value to the West. In economic terms even the best comparable scenarios of integration do not look good. Bulgaria with its corruption? Lithuania with its huge depopulation? Yet both these countries have as little sovereignty as Belgium, maybe even less. It's not like Russia has even a polish option, controversial as it is.
I beg to differ from your analysis. It seems from your point of view that the alternative to Western integration is economic decay without taking into account the advantages of a closer integration with the Asian economies, which are becoming more dominant and sophisticated in comparison with Europeans with each passing day. And it is also necessary to take into account the effects that the sanctions will have on the competitiveness of European economies, especially their industrial and agricultural sectors, that will be punished without a guaranteed source of energy resources and Russian fertilizers. If in in the short term there will be a period of economic decline due to reorganization of the supply chains from Europe towards Asia, once this process is more consolidated it will be difficult for Russia to return to Europe, whose economic future is more uncertain given that the medium term consequences of the sanctions will surely take a hard toll on their more competitive and developed sectors.
Can the flow of information amongst people on either side ‘arrest’ this aim to wall-off, can we welcome Russians well enough so they fight any closure of relations?
Peut-être que les choses sont beaucoup plus simples : https://warontherocks.com/2022/06/not-built-for-purpose-the-russian-militarys-ill-fated-force-design/
Thanks, I find the opposition between sovereignty and wealth useful, for example also when looking at Brexit. And the idea that Russia started the war against Ukraine in order to force the West to build a new iron curtain is interesting, trading sovereignty against wealth. Maybe a possible object is that loss in wealth also reduces the options a country can pursue (thus reducing sovereignty).