FRIDAY FEBRUARY 19 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russia wants Cold War
(2) EDITORIAL: The Looming Sochi Crisis
(3) Russia’s grade in Science Innovation: F-
(4) Gazprom on its Knees
(5) The Truth about Russian Failure (and Paranoia)
NOTE: It’s now possible to take a virtual trip from Moscow to Vladivostok aboard the Trans-Siberian railroad (a far preferable way of making this journey than to actually commit the insane act of boarding a Russian train). Thanks to technology supplied by America (Google maps and YouTube), not Russia, of course.
Nicaragua and Russia, Peers and Allies
Russia wants Cold War
Earlier this week, apparently as payback for recognition of Ossetia, Russia announced it would hold joint military exercises with arch American enemy Nicaragua. A glowering Sergei Lavrov spit in Barack Obama’s eye and sat down next to a preening, arrogant Nicaraguan dictator, Daniel Ortega, and together they openly declared cold war on the world’s only superpower. Russia also openly offered bribes to Cuba in exchange for recognition of Ossetia.
It’s difficult to know what aspect of this malignant transaction is the more simultaneously outrageous and pathetic.
The Looming Sochi Disaster
Russia has begun the Winter Olympiad with truly epic and humiliating failure.
First, as we previously reported, it was sternly reprimanded by the IOC for being the worst cheater at the games. Then it was totally excluded from the medals platform at its most prized event, pairs figure skating, for the first time in the history of the event. By Monday night, when Russians watched Chinese skaters claim both gold and silver in pairs, Russia had taken only one medal, a lowly bronze, while the US had eight, Germany five, France & Canada had four apiece and eight other countries held more than one medal, placing Russia well outside the top ten on the medal count platform in the early going. Then for the capper, the US women’s hockey team brutally crushed the Russian side, blasting them off the ice in a 13-0 spanking. Ouch.
Yet, four years from now, Russia not only plans to compete in but to host the Winter Olympics. When one reflects on the serious difficulties already experienced by Canada while playing host this year, one cannot help but think Russia is engaged in a fool’s errand.
Vladislav Inozemtsev, professor of economics, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies and editor-in-chief of Svobodnaya Mysl, writing in the Moscow Times:
It seems that every time Russia’s leaders proclaim an “innovative leap forward,” the West publishes fresh statistics indirectly proving that such a leap is impossible. For example, a recent report on the number of patents registered with the U.S. Patent Office over the last five years shows that Denmark has more than twice as many patents than Russia, Sweden has 6.8 times more, and Canada — 20 times more. What’s more, Germany registers more patents in one year than the Soviet Union and Russia combined over the last half century.
In addition, Russia produces just 2.6 percent of all articles published in international scientific and academic journals, placing it 14th worldwide. It seems that scientific progress is practically at a standstill in Russia, while in leading industrial countries science is taking giant strides forward.
Why is Russia falling so far behind?
Streetwise Professor reports that once-mighty Gazprom has come upon mighty hard times:
The last couple of days I’ve felt that when I wrote “Teleconnections” I was like that guy in the TV show “Early Edition” who got the paper (the Chicago Sun Times) delivered to him before it was published. Yesterday Bloomberg had an article about a shale gas bonanza in Europe; today’s WSJ has an article describing how Italian energy firm Eni has renegotiated its contracts with Gazprom, as I suggested would happen in the post, because (a) oil prices and gas prices have delinked, due in large part to increased non-traditional supplies, and (b) the development of LNG has helped spur development of a spot market for gas:
Yevgeny Bazhanov, vice chancellor of research and international relations at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, writing in the Moscow Times:
It has become customary in recent decades to blame the United States for every catastrophe afflicting the planet — from tsunamis to revolutions. Before the United States, it was the Jews who were blamed for the world’s problems. In medieval Europe, for example, Jews were said to have spread the plague — and, ironically, the accusations were most virulent in those regions where Jewish people didn’t even live.
Governments have often blamed foreign elements for instigating revolutions. Opponents of the 1789 French Revolution considered it the fruit of an English and Lutheran plot, and Russian authorities considered the Decembrists to be French agents. Bolshevik leaders were thought to be agents of the German military, and Adolf Hitler viewed the Bolsheviks as part of a global Jewish plot. The capitalist West invariably implicated Moscow in national liberation movements of the 20th century, and the Kremlin was convinced that every right-wing dictator was a puppet of Uncle Sam.