2017 Forecast: Russia



Russia will continue to “clean house” in removing or functionally neutralizing unipolar-linked elements in the country whether through public or discrete actions, and this will empower the country to more assuredly practice its multi-vectored diplomacy of geopolitical balancing and thus strengthen its position as the core of the emerging Multipolar World Order. 

House Cleaning

2016 was a wonderful year for Russian patriots, as President Putin got them excited by going after corrupt Economic Development Minister Ulyukaev and arresting him in mid-November for accepting bribes. Ulyukaev is a hated figure among patriotic Russians who see him as a neoliberal sellout to the unipolar world order, so his removal from the political scene was met with joy by many people. The Russian government insists that this was just a simple anti-corruption operation and that there wasn’t anything deeper to it, but popular military analyst and blogger The Saker predicted earlier in the year that Putin would undertake such a move against what he calls “Medvedev’s allies”, or in other words, the “Atlantic Integrationists” who behave as a sixth column on behalf of the US. The Saker updated his analysis following Ulyukaev’s arrest to declare that Putin had finally taken steps to fulfill the forecast and that related moves could be expected at an uncertain time in the future. This was echoed by prominent geopolitical analyst F. William Engdahl who suggested that Anatoly Chubais might be the “next neoliberal head to roll”. 

What’s relevant to pay attention to is the intersection between Russia’s anti-corruption crusade and international geopolitics, as there’s a chance that the former could be commenced or guided according to the latter’s imperatives. For example, Brazil has been in the throes of an extended political crisis for the past couple of years due to the NSA-assisted “Operation Car Wash” ‘anti-corruption’ investigation, which in reality was conditioned in order to purge the multipolar-friendly elements of the government and also overthrow President Rousseff. While the intentions behind the Brazilian example are nefarious and aligned with unipolar strategic precepts, the reverse could theoretically take place in Russia whereby anti-corruption operations result in the legal ‘cleansing’/purging of unipolar elements in advance of multipolar strategic objectives. In both cases – whether it’s Brazil’s Rousseff or Russia’s Ulyukaev – the targeted politician’s overthrow was technically legal, though with the South American one being done on extremely dubious grounds of gray legality while the Russian example was flawlessly conducted without a hint of ulterior motives.

Going forward, should the military-security “deep state” elements aligned with President Putin decide to ‘cleanse’/’purge’ some more of their unipolar fifth/sixth column rivals, then they’ll most likely do so following this established pattern of executing anti-corruption operations. 

On the other hand, there might be certain individuals who are legitimately “clean” in the sense that they haven’t ever partaken in any provably corrupt activities and are thus exempt from ever being ‘cleansed’/’purged’ through the modus operandi of an anti-corruption crusade. Therefore, in such a situation, they could instead be functionally neutralized/sidelined in the sense that they’d still likely retain their nominal position of power and/or influence, but they’d be powerless and uninfluential in their post. This often happens in any sort of job when an employee encounters a manager or other higher-up who dislikes them for whatever reason yet are unable to fire them due to legal reasons, so the decision is made to essentially make the said individual functionless and unable to effect any real change within the establishment. In parallel, a similar template could be applied in mitigating the damage that Atlantic Integrationists could have in undermining the multipolar gains of the Russian state, though of course these people would first have to be identified and then have their intentions investigated by the interested “deep state” parties. It’s not at all to infer that this would take place in an irresponsible manner against all sorts of random people, but just that it could selectively be practiced on a case-by-case basis to strategically neutralize the most pressing threats in the media, government, and “deep state” spheres. 

Balancing Acts All Across The Board 

The earlier-cited article about how “Russia’s Diplomatic Balancing Act In Asia Is To The Benefit Of Its Chinese Ally” provides the most accurate template for understanding Moscow’s global foreign strategy. In sum, Russia seeks to position itself as the indispensable balancing partner all across Eurasia, expertly maintaining the peace between a host of rival states and thus making itself the ultimate kingmaker over supercontinental affairs. For instance, Russia’s policy of “military diplomacy” which the author wrote about for an earlier Sputnik piece back in September wisely provides weapons systems and other assets to rivalling states Armenia and Azerbaijan, India and China, and China and Vietnam, with the potential to expand this paradigm even further to Pakistan and India, and Iran and Saudi Arabia in the future. The article should be reviewed for more specific details about this policy, but the main idea is that this approach has hitherto kept the balance between each pair of countries and uniquely elevated Russia to the point of pivotally maintaining the peaceful status quo. While there are certainly criticisms that could be levelled against this strategy, it’s for the most part been very successful, and this is largely due to the fact that Russia seeks to preserve the balance of forces between its rivaling partners, unlike the US which persistently tries to tip this towards its own allies’ favor in order to provoke a military conflict. 

Extrapolating the lessons that can be learned from Russia’s diplomatic balancing act in Asia and its application of military diplomacy, Moscow can also be said to be applying the root strategy of these policies towards other parts of Eurasia as well.

One of the most monumental examples of this is through the groundbreaking Tripartite arrangement that’s incipiently taking place in the Mideast between Russia, Iran, and Turkey. The only reason that such a geostrategic-diplomatic construction is even possible is entirely because of Moscow’s role in balancing between Tehran and Ankara. Similarly, something along the lines of this established model has the chance of taking shape in Northeast Asia through the formation of a Regional Quartet between Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea, though it’s not exactly the most likely development that could take place. Relatedly, Russia would like to engage in the same sort of geopolitical balancing with Vietnam, China, and the Philippines, which could then give it the enviable role of partially mediating over the South China Sea. No other country has the potential to embrace all three of the most direct South China Sea claimants like Russia does, with Moscow’s moves towards Manila being only a recent development brought about by multipolar-enthused President Duterte and his positive statements towards Russia. 

Finally, if Russia had the ability, then it would also of course like to emulate this pattern when it comes to the EU, particularly towards the Eurocautionary governments (with the exception of Poland) which were described in the first section’s analysis about Europe. If Russia can enter into pragmatic arrangements with a loose coalition of them, then it could not only enhance relations on a bilateral level with each constituent partner, but the mutually beneficial results of this new series of partnerships could lead to the EU also modifying its bloc-wide approach towards Moscow, though provided of course that Russia and China’s Balkan megaprojects can succeed to the point of progressively liberating the continent from the US’ overbearing unipolar influence. This is of course a forward-looking goal and not one which will likely see any fruits in the coming couple of years of course, but if Russia can press ahead with this strategy and leverage any positive relations that it manages to cultivate with the pragmatic Eurocautionary states of the EU, then there’s a chance that this could lead to significantly positive changes for the multilateral Russia-EU relationship so long as Brussels can garner and sustain the political will to do so (which would by far be assisted by a Eurocautionary victory in France next year). 

The Core Of The 21st Century

Russia’s primary geostrategic objective is to become the pivotal core for the 21st century’s global transition into the emerging Multipolar World Order. This is admittedly a very ambitious task and not one which can easily be accomplished, but it carries with it unparalleled importance in fundamentally changing the course of world history and setting Russia out to be the ultimate driver for global affairs in the future. The concept behind Russia becoming the 21st century core is that it’s located at the juncture of Eastern, Central, and Western Eurasia, thereby endowing it with the natural opportunity to link these corners of the supercontinent together by means of its advantageous geography. As China pushes forth with its One Belt One Road global vision, Beijing and Moscow are beginning to understanding just how important their strategic convergences are and the irreplaceable role that Russia is expected to play in the coming century. China’s New Silk Road paradigm preaches that the geographic distances between the extremities of Eurasia can be lessened through mainland transport networks which cut down on the time of trade between Europe and East Asia by means high-speed rail and other such technologies. Of crucial significance, however, is that these envisioned routes wouldn’t be subjected to the influence of the all-powerful US Navy, a force which has hitherto threatened to cut off China’s Sea Lines Of Communication with the rest of the world in the event of a serious crisis. 

Being the long-term planners that they stereotypically are, the Chinese know better than to allow themselves to remain geostrategically blackmailed by the US’ military forces, which is why its leadership decided to pioneer a revival of the ancient Silk Road across Eurasia in order to neutralize this persistent threat.

While it can be argued that CPEC might one day extend through Iran and Turkey to eventually reach the Balkans and thenceforth the gates to Europe, there’s considerably less Hybrid War risk if China just streamlined a direct access route to the EU by means of its close Russian partner. Due to this immovable constant, Russia will thus forever occupy the utmost pivotal geostrategic position in the 21st century and beyond, which explains why it’s destined to function as the core of the worldwide movement to multipolarity. There’s no intention to lessen the huge role played by China in this regard, as Russia’s role would never have become what it is today had it not been for Chinese strategic planning and capital investments, but the author simply wants to draw attention to how Russia’s geography has gifted it the very real potential to unite all corners of Eurasia by means of its territory. It can therefore be argued that Russia and China’s fates are forever inseparable as neither can exist in the multipolar world without the other – Russia needs China’s market size and stability in order to attract trans-Eurasian European trade across its territory through modern transport routes which will be partially paid for by Chinese capital investment, and likewise, China needs Russia’s geography in order to securely facilitate this away from any of the US’ Hybrid War interferences or conventional military obstacles. 

As a final point, it’s worthwhile to include the map which the author commissioned for his forecast about Russia’s Greater Eurasian Scenarios. The graphic there illustrates the myriad Silk Road connectivity possibilities which Russia has in the emerging Multipolar World Order, showcasing its strategic significance to the future and underpinning just how irreplaceable it is for Eurasian connectivity.