So, just in the past few years, Russia has poured a lot of resources not only into bankrolling the Syrian war but also into fucking with elections and social media in other countries. Ukraine, France, Britain, and yes, the US. (At this point, anyone who still thinks the Mango Mussolini and his merry nepotist crew weren’t funded and prodded by the Kremlin is simply refusing to see the obvious and proven.) Servers aren’t cheap, neither is the time spent finding ways around various defenses or deciding whom to sic the dogs of harassment upon.
This is a massive outlay. Where is the money to fund it coming from? The oligarchs, the perennial dependence on a tax on spirits, gas pipelines, certainly. Also, during the period of openness, the economy exploded in a good way, and that leap forward is still being cannibalized by the oligarchs. Still…that’s a lot of effort and cash going basically down foreign holes.
One of the reasons the Soviet bloc fell apart was the USSR’s propping up of various regimes. Frex, North Korea playing the USSR and China against each other to extract the most from both, or aid to Cuba, various rebuilding programs in Iron Curtain countries, aid to nascent Communist China once Stalin (and his rivalry with Mao) was safely dead continuing into a significant drain of rubles all through Kruschev’s and later regimes, Kalashnikovs shipped to insurrections–I could go on, but you get the idea.
Russia’s pockets are deep but not endless. I’m wondering how sustainable Russia’s meddling is in the long term, and how the looming Vodka Politics demographic disaster will affect funding for it, and also wondering what shape the inevitable collapse will take. Of course Putin and his crew will escape offshore with their looted billions if they’re quick enough to get out before the instability reaches critical mass. But if there’s one thing about iron-fisted oligarch kleptocrats, it’s that they’re addicted to stealing more and more–a gambler’s addiction, forgetting that the house always wins.
These are things I think about when I should be writing, apparently. Hrm.