American Spectator Ukrainian Delusions

I have to comment on an article written by Owen Matthews in the U.K. version of The Spectator — Putin may seem confident – but Russia’s future is bleak. The lunacy reflected in this piece helps explain why the Brits are so lost as they struggle to come to grips with the fact that Putin is kicking their pompous asses.

Mr. Matthews starts with this nonsense:

And yet, as he prepares for his fifth term, the truth is that Putin is a hollow tsar. He invaded Ukraine to assert Russia’s greatness in its backyard as well as on the international stage. Instead, the war showed that Putin’s much-vaunted army is incapable of defeating a far smaller Ukrainian force. Instead of halting Nato expansion, he has massively extended it to formerly neutral Sweden and Finland. The invasion has erased key sectors of the Russian economy (notably gas exports and automotives), brought foreign investment to an abrupt halt and made Russia an economic vassal of China.

The war has forced up to a million of the country’s best educated and brightest into exile and broken the Kremlin’s implicit contract with Russia’s elites that they would be able to enrich themselves and enjoy their earnings unhindered in exchange for political submission. Most fatefully, war has allowed Putin and the elderly securocrats who surround him to fulfil a dream that many old men may aspire to but very few achieve – to create a future that reflects an idealised version of their country’s past.

Take your pick in selecting the most absurd Matthew’s claim. My favorite is, “The invasion has erased key sectors of the Russian economy (notably gas exports and automotives), brought foreign investment to an abrupt halt and made Russia an economic vassal of China.” Is Matthew’s really this misinformed or is he just a corrupt propagandist who will type what he is told by the MI-6 propaganda team.

Not only has the Special Military Operation energized and dramatically expanded the military industrial sector of Russia, but the rest of the economy is purring along just fine. The war has not “erased” Russia’s gas exports, it has redirected them and expanded them. And then there is the fact that many of the Europeans continue to buy Russian gas, only paying a premium through third-party brokers and ravaging their own economies with inflation. Yes, Western foreign investment has stopped and Russia, without missing a step produced over 4% growth in the last quarter. Poor, poor Russia.

Unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, Russia has not off-shored its industrial capabilities to other countries, like China. And Russia’s own ample supply of oil, gas, aluminum, coal, uranium, bauxite, nickel and rare earth minerals means that it does not have to rely on some prickly foreign country or entity to keep its civilian and military industries churning out product.

The most important result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that it has exposed NATO as a hollow shell. NATO’s supposedly superior tanks and artillery have been decimated on the Ukrainian steppes and exposed as expensive prima donnas that require expensive maintenance and are unreliable in combat conditions. I guess Mr. Matthews did not see the video of the British Challenger tank stuck in the mud. This video is emblematic of the sorry state of the British military.

The depth of Matthew’s ignorance and hypocrisy is revealed in the following two paragraphs:

But the most significant part of Putin’s speech was not what he said about the war in Ukraine but how little time he devoted to it – just 15 minutes of two hours. The rest was focused on his domestic programme, addressing everything from fixing a deepening demographic crisis to replacing crumbling infrastructure, improving health and education and providing funding for science and research. The nuts and bolts, in short, of everyday administration. And his main message was aimed not at Russia’s wealth creators or elites but squarely at the budzhetniki – the tens of millions of state employees, military and security personnel, pensioners and bureaucrats who rely on the Kremlin for their income and who form the backbone of Putin’s support.

The key question for his political survival is how long he will be able to pay to keep these people onside. Few of the bullish economic forecasts that Putin made in his speech stand up to close scrutiny. Yes, Russian GDP nominally rose more than any G7 country last year. The average Russian household ended 2023 with about 18 per cent more money in the bank than a year earlier. Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-controlled bank, posted a 5.5-fold year-on-year net profit jump to a record high of 1.5 trillion rubles ($16.3 billion). The defence industry employs 3.5 million people and many factories have doubled their workforce since the beginning of the war. But this apparent economic boom is really due to a massive increase of state spending on the war – a form of military Keynesianism that is swallowing 40 per cent of the state budget, and close to 10 per cent of Russia’s GDP.

That’s a hoot. According to Matthews Russia is only experiencing economic prosperity because of defense spending and it is starting to run a “deficit.” Russia is a piker compared to the the United States, which is 35 trillion dollars in the hole (and climbing), has a one trillion dollar defense budge (okay, $900 billion to be precise), no longer produces tanks, failed to produce a functional hypersonic missile, incapable of matching Russia’s output of artillery shells and has become largely a service economy. The latter means the U.S. is no longer an industrial powerhouse.

I think Owen Matthews is going through the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief as he struggles to come to grips with the defeat of Ukraine. He is in the “denial” stage. Next up — anger then bargaining. He has a ways to go to get to “acceptance.”

source

Share :
comments

post a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *