You know, things were simple in the days following World War II. Thanks to atomic weapons, the US was the world’s sole superpower. Then Russia had to get some, then China, then maybe Great Britain and France, India, and possibly even the Bottafucchio crime family, and suddenly the club wasn’t quite so exclusive anymore.
But was Russia ever really a superpower? Maybe not. Russia is a huge land of almost unlimited natural resources. Coming out of WWII, The Russian government was complicated, top heavy, and corrupt. The post communist economy has been run by what the Russians used to call Tolkachi, the mid level manufacturing mangers’ who kept the wheels from falling off. Russia had two things that made them a superpower. A huge army with almost unlimited manpower replacements, and nuclear weapons.
But times change. For the last 10-20 years, the popular description of Russia as a superpower is A gas station with nukes. Energy makes up 80% of Russia’s income. Their manufacturing is antiquated, and the Kremlin has spent most of its money on the military instead of upgrading the country. With all of that, what they spend on national defense is a drop in the bucket of that the US spends. And US technology and brain matter is infinitely superior.
And now Putin fucked up his last advantage. According to a new university study, Putin’s war in Ukraine has made Russia superfluous as a serious player on the world superpower stage. Here’s why.
Putin made two fatal errors. His first was pure machismo and bravado. He invaded Ukraine with a huge, allegedly word class military with the best brains in the military world. Which is why they commenced their invasion at the very start of the spring thaw, miring down their howitzers, tanks, and supply and support vehicles, then running and giving the equipment to Ukraine. The performance of his vaunted military was a cold slap in the face to Russia.
When it became clear that the war was going to be protracted, and that NATO was lining up in solidarity against him, he went for his hole card. He first threatened, and then followed through and largely shut down the Russian oil and natural gas supply to NATO and EU member countries who were supporting Ukraine. His goal was to use a long, hard, cold European winter to fracture NATO and the EU, and have them come sniveling back to Vlad the Imp to turn the valves back on.
Except It. Didn’t. Happen. The US pitched in some cash, and aided Europe into finding alternate sources of oil and natural gas. The EU and NATO have hung tough, and even Mother Nature flipped Putin double barrel birds. This winter has been more moderate than most.
All of which basically made Russia extraneous as a world superpower. According to the university study, Russian oil income is down 80%, and Russian natural gas revenue is down 65%. This is a death knell for the Russian economy, but even more so for the Putin Russian military. Putin must have those energy resources generating profits so he can feed the money into supplying his military. For God’s sake, he’s already relying on Iran and North Korea to supply him with military hardware!
But here’s where the economic cheese binds. Putin has spent close to 20 years with a comfortable, profitable relationship supplying Europe with oil and natural gas. Yeah, but he should have learned from his tame lap poodle. How many times do I have to say it? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When El Pendejo Presidente got an itch in his shorts, he slapped stupid punitive tariffs on China. And as a result China retaliated. And when that happened, US shrimpers, lobster fishermen, cattle ranchers, and soybean farmers saw relationships that they spent a decade nourishing with China go down the drain. The Chinese went to Mexico, Canada, Argentina, and Vietnam instead. And those contracts have never come back.
And that’s what Putin is about to find out. Europe has found, or is negotiating with other sources for their oil and natural gas needs. And they’re dealing with much more sane, level dealers, who won’t put a hand on the switch every time Europe does something they don’t like. Putin could pull out of Ukraine tomorrow, but the vast majority of his European contracts are never coming back. Once the bully gets bopped on the snoot, nobody is afraid of him anymore.
Oil and natural gas is all that Putin has to sell. Russia is a country of almost unlimited natural resources, but the thing is so spread out and rugged, that they’re hard to get to. And Putin never put any money into investing in the infrastructure to make getting to them profitable. He went with the quick and dirty, oil and natural gas. But even when the war ends, if Russia can’t drag in enough oil and natural gas revenues to at least keep the Russian economy afloat, what does Putin, or his successor do? Putin wanted to restore Russia to the USSR by forcibly retaking the breakaway republics as his legacy. But now he’s turned it into a shunned, rump nation.