Streetwise Professor

May 13, 2014

Putin Unleashes Rogozin the Rabid

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:40 pm

Rogozin the Ridiculous is reveling in the role of Rogozin the Rabid in the post-Crimea period.

He made a road trip to Transnistria, where he said that if Moldova continues to pursue closer relationships with the EU and NATO, Russia would “unhitch” Transnistria from Moldova, a la Crimea. While in  Chisinau, Rogozin collected petitions pleading for Russia to Crimea-ize Transnistria.

The plane carrying some of the petitions and part of the Russian delegation was intercepted in Ukrainian airspace and forced to return to Chisinau, where the documents were seized. Rogozin took to Twitter, where he insinuated the plane he was on had been intercepted. But in fact, Rogozin was on another flight and made it to Moscow with some additional petitions, and the intercepted plane only carried his flunkies.

Romania had refused overflight to the Russian aircraft, which sent Rogozin into paroxysms of rage. He threatened to return to Moldova in a Tu-160 strategic bomber. The Romanians were not amused.

But Rogozin was just getting started. He has now communicated threats to shut off GPS stations in Russia, to cut off sales of Russian rocket engines to the US, and to deny US access to the international space station after 2020.

The last threats are unsurprising, and expected countermoves to US sanctions (e.g., cutting off exports of military-related technology). But the zest with which Rogozin delivered them is revealing.

But the most revealing thing is that Putin is unleashing Rogozin, and making the rabid one the public face of the Russian government. He is calculating that the weak-kneed in the west will wilt before this rhetorical onslaught. And sad to say, he is probably right.

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  1. I can’t think of anyone more fitting the label fascist than Rogozin.

    Comment by aaa — May 13, 2014 @ 11:31 pm

  2. Says it all about backward Russians….–in-their-heads/500068.html

    Russians’ Own Iron Curtain – in Their Heads
    By Georgy BovtMay. 13 2014 19:39 Last edited 19:39
    The Ukrainian crisis is far from over and might yet get worse. At times, it seems as if this is only a bad dream, but when we wake up, we realize that it is real.

    But things will never be the same again. Russia’s relationship with the West has been destroyed for a long time. Most likely, normal relations will not be restored until a new generation of leaders comes to power in Russia and the West.

    The West prefers to speak to Russia via sanctions and “teach it a hard lesson.” But even the harshest sanctions against Russia will not likely cause the economy or the regime to collapse. In fact, sanctions have rarely proven effective against another country. They generally cause more hardship for ordinary citizens than the ruling elite.

    Russians are often uneasy with opinions that challenge their provincial world view.

    Many hawks in the West sense the same old drumbeat of the Cold War in the current confrontation with Moscow. Similarly, old Cold War-era hawks — as well as younger versions of them — have reappeared everywhere in Russia as well. That Cold War-era generation of Russians is familiar with living in state of confrontation with the West and also in isolation from the rest of the world.

    Russians have never been citizens of the world. Efforts by a broader cross-­section of Russian society to integrate with European society began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Russian Empire was poised to finally end its provincialism and shake free of its status as the backwoods of Europe. But the thin layer of pro-Western Russians who had been nurtured since the time of Peter the Great were all but eliminated or driven out of the country after the Bolshevik Revolution. After the revolution, the Bolsheviks tried to develop ties with Europe by organizing a global proletariat revolution, but those efforts failed. In its place, the Soviet Union drove itself into isolation from the outside world.

    About 80 percent of Russians have never left the Commonwealth of Independent States and have no plans to do so. Of those who have visited the West, many were disappointed to learn that it was not the “heaven on Earth” they had expected. Life there can be difficult and stressful, and the laws are unfamiliar. Many Russians find themselves asking, “Why fill your head with strange rules and regulations and struggle to learn a foreign language?” Only about 5 percent of Russians speak a foreign language at conversational level. The authorities have already prohibited the siloviki from traveling abroad on the far-fetched pretext that 150 different countries might arrest them and extradite them to the U.S. If you add the families members of those siloviki, this means that about 5 million Russians are essentially banned from traveling abroad.

    The West will have little luck frightening Russians with the prospect of a new Iron Curtain because Russians themselves already built one long ago — in their minds. And that barrier is higher and more formidable than any physical Berlin Wall. Any information you want is now available on the Internet, but few have the desire and time to search for it, analyze it and compare it to the official propaganda. There is lots of talk that the authorities are planning to build a “cyber firewall” to isolate the Russian Internet as much as possible from “corrupting influences” both within Russia and abroad — including, perhaps, banning Facebook, Twitter and Google from Russia by year’s end. But these steps may not be necessary. After all, the widespread anti-Americanism among Russians today arose in an environment in which information offering an alternative to the official propaganda was freely available on the Internet.

    Most Russians are comfortable with the limited information they receive from official sources, just as they are comfortable with the growing provincialism of the country as a whole. Everything is simpler that way. What does make them uncomfortable is differing opinions that challenge their provincial world view. And that explains the increasingly hostile attitude toward the West. Never having seen the West, with its more prosperous and democratic societies, those who promote Russia’s isolation are attempting to avoid the temptations and feelings of inferiority. That is an infantile reaction, but it is real, giving state propaganda a free hand to manipulate Russians pretty much as it wants.

    It is not even necessary anymore to require exit visas to leave the country, as the Soviet Union did. Most Russians don’t want to leave, are scared off by the challenges of starting a new life from scratch in a foreign country, or simply do have no financial means to leave. As for the more innovative, creative and independent-thinking Russians, the authorities have never regretted their emigration from Russia. Recall when prominent economist Sergei Guriev left Russia a year ago. In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “If he wants to leave Russia, let him leave.”

    But this increasing brain drain only serves to widen Russia’s gap with the developed world in the areas of education, technology, information and culture. All of this, coupled with the loss of technological competence, make Russia and individual Russians less competitive and adapted to the modern world.

    This new isolation will lead to the same results as the Soviet-era isolation did. Any system that so severely limits communication with the outside world, takes pride in its “unique” form of provincialism and lacks a free exchange of ideas, information, technology and scientific research is doomed to fail. But like the passengers on a boat approaching a waterfall, the overwhelming majority of Russians living in this system will remain blissfully unaware of what is happening and, right up until the very last minute, where they are headed.

    Comment by Andrew — May 14, 2014 @ 12:45 am

  3. Georgy, Andy, and the Professor, all very sad that deaths in Russia no longer exceed births by a million a year.

    Comment by PailiP — May 14, 2014 @ 5:01 am

  4. @PailiP

    The difference between birth rate and death rate in Russia at the moment is only 0.2 births/1000 population.

    With this rate, it will take Russia 70 years to increase their population even by a measly one percent. By the time they do that (assuming they’re lucky), half of the Russia’s population, or more, will be over 60 years old.

    Ain’t that great?!

    Comment by Trubkokur — May 14, 2014 @ 6:51 am

  5. Apparently he’s also said that the Russians will drop out of ISS in 2020.

    Comment by John Hall — May 14, 2014 @ 10:25 am

  6. I am not sure about @PailiP’s accounting. You can check with Nicholas Eberstadt, who does a great job chronicling demographics. Read him on Russia here:
    The are exterminating themselves.

    Regarding Moldova, over 20% of their population holds Romanian passports. That makes them citizens of the EU. Any military attack on EU citizens should be a matter for EU defense forces.
    Wait. Did I just write “EU defense forces”? Hilarious!

    Comment by Richard Whitney — May 14, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

  7. Lavrov has also been unleashed

    This is a pretty interesting video on Bloomberg

    It looks like the sanctions are indeed having an effect

    Also, note the comment about the “bargain” in Ukraine with the Donbas gangland. It really started under Kuchma, who gave the gangsters in Donbas greater autonomy de facto, rather than de jure.

    The gangsters from Donbas, by hook and by crook, controlled the government in Kyiv for well over 20 years. Now that their butt boy, and Putler’s butt boy, Yanukonvikt, has fled the country, the gangsters in the east, Akhmetov, Taruta, Kolomoisky, Dobkin, Kernes, etc., etc., etc., are maneuvering for de jure autonomy, with what should have happend a long time ago – local elections of local governors, and other officials, etc.

    8-minute video – pretty interesting, including some number crunching

    Comment by elmer — May 14, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

  8. [email protected] Richard Whitney, Eberstadt stopped looking at data in 2005. A more recent, data-derived look at Russia’s demographics from the same publication is this:

    Russia’s birth rate is ~60% higher than Germany’s, and ~30% higher than Poland’s.

    Yup, US policy in central and eastern Europe rests on countries that either are, or soon will be, aging catastrophically. The biggest demographic decile in Germany is people in their 40s. Russia is the only country in eastern & central Europe with a population pyramid that is expanding at the bottom.

    Comment by PailiP — May 15, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  9. @ PailiP

    Actually western Ukraine is demographically healthy. The country’s average is dragged down by its east.

    Also, because of Poland’s lower death rate, its population growth is about the same as Russia’s, only very slightly worse. And Poland does not have the demographic hole (the lost generation of the 90s) coming of age soon as does Russia. This will result in fewer Russian births per capita, even if each Russian woman of childbearing age has more children.

    Comment by AP — May 15, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  10. Excellent article about the rabid nature of the anti-Ukrainian forces within Ukraine:

    Comment by AP — May 15, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

  11. @PailiP. Adomanis? Please. He is one of Putin’s pet weasels. An embarrassment that Foreign Affairs gave him a forum. (As it is to Forbes. Forbes has some great bloggers, like my colleague Paul Gregory and Tim Worstall, but it has some of the biggest eight balls in captivity, Adomanis in particular.)

    It is widely understood that the recent uptick in the Russian birth rate is the echo of the last mini-baby boom of the USSR in the early-80s. As that generation ages, and is replaced by the birth dearth generation of the late-80s/early-90s, Russian births will decline yet again.

    And the modest improvement in Russia’s demographics is also an echo of the relative economic boom times of the mid-2000s. As Russia’s economy stagnates, or recedes (as is a really possibility given the enervating effects of Putinism) this effect will also dissipate.

    Moreover, aggregate statistics for Russia cover up substantial variations by region, and among ethnic groups. Poor Muslim populations in restive regions contribute the bulk of the demographic improvement. The situation among Great Russians is as dreary as ever.

    And as Trubkokur notes, even given Adomanis’s rosy scenario, Russia’ s population will grow 1 percent in 4 generations. Yay! Proving yet again that the key to success is very low expectations.

    By contrast, US population grows by about 1 percent per year.

    Back to Admonanis. He is the best example of a phenomenon that I have noted for years here on SWP: “Not the worst!” In response to any negative statistic or story about Russia, Adomanis writes an article finding some other country (usually FSU or ex-Warsaw Pact, IOW another Sovokized nation) that does worse.

    That is, Adomanis is the master of setting the lowest bar possible, and crowing loudly when Russia clears it.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 15, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

  12. @John Hall. I mentioned the space station. Last phrase of the 5th paragraph.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 15, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  13. Speaking of pet weasels, it’s curious to note that a one-time prolific SWP commentator has since… taken up other pursuits.

    Comment by S/O — May 16, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

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