Russia, Poised For Failure: Column

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Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Russian News Service radio that the president would read the piece, but is unlikely to respond. “McCain is not known as a fan of Putin. To engage in polemics — I doubt it, his is the point of view of a person who lives across the ocean,” Peskov said. The website Pravda.Ru is not known as a serious news source and has nothing to do with the newspaper Pravda published by the Communist party, which was the country’s most important paper in the Soviet era but which has now fallen into obscurity. Some observers have said that the publishing company Pravda.ru is bankrolled by the Kremlin, as it also runs websites that are staunchly pro-Putin and full of stories smearing his opposition. McCain’s piece was sent to both Pravda publications, his office said. Putin in his widely quoted New York Times piece criticised Obama’s plan to bomb Russia’s ally Syria, demanded that Moscow’s plan to secure Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles be given time to work, and slammed Washington for “relying solely on brute force” to conduct its international affairs. In a blunt, often personal counter-punch that ran more than 800 words, McCain wrote that he bears no ill will toward the Russian people, only the country’s government which he says ignores humanity’s “inalienable rights” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values. They don’t respect your dignity or accept your authority over them,” wrote McCain, who was a staunch supporter of US President Barack Obama’s early plan for a military strike against Syria for that regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons. “They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media.

Russia Today Airs Dubious Video Of Syria Chemical Attack Claiming To Show Rebels Using Sarin Gas From Brown Moses Blog (VIDEO)

As a result, unrest is spreading from Russia’s North Caucasus to Russia’s heartland. Russia faces similar pressure in Siberia and its Far East regions, which cover more than 4 million square miles. The population of less than 26 million, some six inhabitants per square mile (less than Wyoming) is dropping. As Russians seek opportunities in warmer, wealthier climes, the region is increasingly a backwater. This decline is ruinous to Russia’s economic prosperity, because the Far East is an area with vast, largely untapped, hydrocarbon wealth . As the Russian state recedes in the Far East, it is being replaced there by a rising and energy-hungry China. Moscow and Beijing have tussled over the sovereignty of the Far East for centuries, and demarcated their common border only a few years ago. But that agreement is temporary (expiring in 2021) and, with population trends working in its favor, China is working to speed up Russia’s decline, and its own advance. It is doing so through legal and illegal migration into the region, as well as sustained investments on a scale that has eclipsed those of the Kremlin. As a result, the future of the Far East is in flux, with Russia’s position as a global energy player and a major international power at stake. Increasing belligerence These trends are already exerting an inexorable pull on Russia’s political direction. They are reinforcing its aggressive, neo-imperial approach toward the bordering countries of the “post-Soviet space,” whose political independence the Kremlin doesn’t respect and whose sovereignty it actively tries to subvert. The trends also set the stage for a widening civil war between the Russian state and a radicalizing Muslim underclass. And in Russia’s east, where Chinese dominance is fast becoming an inevitability, the stage is increasingly set for growing competition if not outright conflict between Moscow and Beijing. All of which, in turn, will threaten America and the West in new and grave ways in the years ahead.

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(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein) This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter stands on a damaged military tank in Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad) This Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows a general view of Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA) This Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the entrance of Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA) In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria.(AP Photo/SANA) In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA) Israeli soldiers are seen near an Iron Dome battery near Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gil Yohanan) A Syrian living in India wraps herself in a Syrian flag and participates in a protest march against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria, towards the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) This Friday, Sept.