July 27, 2021

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Russia, the economic dwarf at the big table

No one expected such a summit to resolve the many conflicts and deep differences between these two countries. But reports in foreign newspapers, especially in Russia and the United States, are generally positive. Why, in spite of all the contradictions, do both sides of this meeting go home with a sense of accomplishment?

First, it has been said and repeated over and over again: Expectations were very low, relations between the two countries At a very low level For decades.

By the way, despite the bizarre love that the former US president showed to his Russian opponent, there was no real improvement in state-to-state relations between 2017 and 2020.

Success at low cost

Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden met in Geneva this week.

Photo: Reuters / POOL

In Geneva, this background and this environment A Priory The two countries (and the two men) were allowed relatively little to achieve a small diplomatic victory, paradoxically, without a joint statement and without a joint press conference.

This, along with a few statements, combined with some elements (for example, on demand, agreed by both, to talk about nuclear proliferation or cyber security), with some kind of sentence: Solid professional, Putin is for Biden A respectable opponent.

Invited Joe Biden Aging Appreciated today by the Russian press (which delighted Donald Trump’s continued insults) – by the same Russian press – anyone who knows what he wants as a leader, gets his message across and can show determination. But with a determination to encourage respect. After all, this is the line of analysis that emerges in Moscow. Biden someone Who can we talk to.

Recognition was given to Moscow

What did Vladimir Putin look for in Geneva?

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Thanks. Recognition – Explicit in Joe Biden’s mouth – Russia is, yes, a key player in international relations, a Great powerFor example, a Barack Obama, to say again that he became Russia, was touched by hatred A regional power.

Next to Geneva, you had to read the headlines of the Russian press, the tone of the TV broadcast of the event, full of pride. Our Russia is respected! Or, Biden considered Vladimir Putin equal! These kinds of things.

The pictures coming from Geneva will be very useful to the Kremlin. This is because the Russian people, with its secular woes (as in the 2000s, despite variations and some improvements over time), and the relentless yoke of dictatorial, authoritarian regimes, are living as a kind of compensation. The state is respected, or feared internationally. In other words: dictatorship, famine… yes it is ours. However: We are respected as a nation!

This kind of attitude runs deep in the Russian psyche. This is very useful for the Kremlin at the moment: the government’s assessment is declining, the economy is bad, the legislative elections are coming in the fall, and political opposition (Alexei Navalny et al.) Is being crushed by the police and unjust laws.

In this context, the Putin administration is greatly appreciated for being able to present such a successful international image.

It is true that by 2021, Russia will no longer be the main adversary of the United States and the West. This is China, of course.

7% of the US economy

Some very simple statistics need to be remembered. Joe and Vladimir have organized a nice summit Equal partnersRussia’s economy accounts for only 7% of the U.S. economy, according to GDP. Probably one-twelfth of China. Equivalent to Canada … or calculated differently: Russia’s GDP is three or four times higher than Quebec’s!

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Again, fortunately there are hydrocarbons … because without its gas reserves, Russia’s GDP would be halved.

Flames are burning above two chimneys at the oil refinery.

Without its gas reserves, Russia’s GDP would be halved.

Photo: iStock

So this economic and commercial dwarf continues to play in the big leagues. It is true that Moscow under Putin has made significant efforts in recent years in the Middle East (Syria) or Africa (mercenaries in Libya, in the Central African Republic).

Why this diligence? Because of the past, the remnants, the remnants of the Cold War. In strategic matters, weapons and, in particular, nuclear weapons.

In 2021, despite China’s uprising and rapid military occupation, the two major world nuclear powers – strictly speaking of a nuclear arsenal – are the United States and Russia.

Both countries are like 90% of the existing nuclear bombs, which are in operation or in storage. China, France or the United Kingdom, Nuclear forces, Are very backward.

If Russia exists today, or at least from the outside, as a leading international player, it is not because of its economy, but because of global ideological or geopolitical influence (zealous supporters on all continents when Soviet communism was active).

Nuclear power and information technology capability

There is a nuclear weapon, but there is mastery of advanced techniques (relatively new) in terms of espionage and computer manipulation.

Despite the mechanical and automatic denials of the Russian leader at the Geneva summit (No, our government has nothing to do with cyber attacks, what are you going to think!), Russia, its secret services, not to mention the very specialized and sophisticated private sector that is often linked to political power, which is the world power over hacking.

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Of course, Americans, Chinese and Israelis are doing their best in this area. But the champions are the Russians. Even Putin, in this case, may have a little hidden and bad pride.

Thanks to the mastery of nuclear power, but espionage and computer intervention are associated with the past as a strategic superpower – not to mention a new diplomatic alliance with China, nowhere on the Security Council, for example – for Russia The power of harassment The incomparable allows him to sit Adult Schedule.