Dying Russia is a fine country to talk about irrelevance

The only influence Russia has is as an international spoiler against those who want to live in free, prosperous and non-corrupt societies. Who, anywhere in the world, is deriving any benefit from what Russia stands for?

Proud to be a police state?
The Commentator
On 6 September 2013 12:09

There appear to be multiple confusions over remarks emanating from Russia at the St Petersberg G-20 meeting that Britain is "just a small island … no one pays any attention to them." This was allegedly said by President Putin's spokesman. He's denied it. The British government and the press are upset anyway. One in the eye for Britain?

Just to deal with the most trivial aspect of the affair: plainly the Russian political establishment wanted to get that message out, and it makes no difference who did or did not push it. Now, it is a fact in the world. The message has been conveyed.

The more important aspect, yet not the most important aspect, is that the Russians were merely using Britain as a proxy for the wider West. Increasingly, the United States is also irrelevant to the course of events in the modern world, and if that sounds like an admonishment of the Obama administration (which it is), just wait until you think about how irrelevant the European Union is in all this. If Britain, the US and Europe are irrelevant, where in heaven's name is the West?

What West? you might ask. Mr. Putin is sure he knows the answer.

Russia has global relevance only because all the countervailing Western influences are in retreat. There is huge division and much acrimony among pro-Western voices over Syria. The most powerful arguments against striking Syria centre around Iran. That strand of thinking says that we should keep our powder dry against the day we will have to take out the Islamic Republic's nuclear capability.

Fine, in so far as it goes. But will we really be any more inclined to take action against Iran than Syria? Worse, would inaction against Syria serve as a precedent for inaction against Iran? Worse still, and coming back 360 degrees, if Obama does strike Syria will he use that as evidence that he's no wimp on foreign policy and that he's just made a "considered" decision against not acting over Iran?

No serious person could fail to see the complexities. But what if you don't care about complexities? What if you run a country so hopelessly heading down the toilet of history that just so long as you can put one in the eye of the West, you'll do it, just coz...?

Enter Vladimir Putin's Russia. It's more corrupt than Albania (and before Putin it wasn't); it has one of the the worst Aids problem outside Africa; the male life expectancy is 64 (even if you believe the official figures); the population is in free fall -- heading from around 143 million to 110 million over the next 30 years (again if you believe the official stats, and related projections); they're locked in a permanent unresolved set of wars on their southern borders with Chechnya etc; and as fracking becomes all the rage and their own oil and gas runs out the whole house of cards is destined to come crashing down.

Meanwhile, if Russia's rich have all headed out to London, why do you suppose that might be?

The only power and influence that Russia has in the world is as an international spoiler for those who want to live in free, prosperous and non-corrupt societies. Who, anywhere in the world, is deriving any benefit from what Russia does or stands for?

Actually, that question is not rhetorical: Bashar Al-Assad benefits from Putin's Russia; as does Iran; and, as we reported on Thursday, as do Europe's resurgent neo-Nazis who welcome modern Russia's embrace.

Proud Russia can attack the UK all it likes, but perhaps Putin and his cronies could tell the rest of the world what they really have to be proud about?

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