8/1/12 – As I predicted in my latest novel, “Return to Darkness,” Vladimir Putin (Sergei Botcharova in the book) was re-elected to a 3rd term as president of the Russian Federation. Since then, Putin has done everything he can to oppose the United States on the world scene at every turn. His latest gambit? Attempting to portray Russia as a major political-military player on the world scene.
How? A recent announcement stated Russian intentions to establish a naval presence and military bases in Cuba, Syria, and the Seychelles Islands. It won’t wash. At least not soon. Why? For one thing, the Russian navy is in very poor shape because of finances. It has few ships and very few submarines that are operational. True, they have scheduled some now construction, but everything is behind schedule. For several years after the fall of the old Soviet Union, the country was essentially bankrupt. The shipyards fell into disrepair and did not operate.
That’s not the only problem. Corruption is a huge issue. After the old Soviet Union’s demise, money meant for the government was diverted by and to Oligarchs, who transferred it to banks outside the country. Now those funds are being siphoned off by organized crime.
“The country’s balance sheet looks good right now because it has lots of oil and natural gas, but the profit from this bonanza is being looted by the organized crime-apparatchik kleptocracy that is ruling the country,” said an informant who wishes to remain anonymous. “Much of the money is just being stolen and not being invested in the people and the state. If it didn’t have nuclear weapons, why would anyone take Russia seriously today, except in a negative sense?” So a Russian base in Cuba and these other countries, and a couple of outdated Russian destroyers that visit there regularly are no military threat to us of any kind just now.
It will be awhile until the Russian Federation, under its latest president, Vladimir Putin, will be a power on the world scene. But, it will happen eventually. The new occupant of the White House will need to keep a watchful eye on the situation in the future, as, to project Russian power beyond its borders and its meager coastal waters, Putin will first need to re-direct resources to building a strong naval force.
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