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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 26-Sep-2014
26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria

Web Log - September, 2014

26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria

Russia's desperate relationship with China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria


Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)
Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)

On Thursday, Russia's military completed a week of drills and exercises in the Far East, involving 100,000 servicemen, 1,500 tanks, 120 aircraft, 5,000 pieces of weaponry, and up to 70 ships, involving almost the entire Russian Pacific fleet.

Nominally, the purpose of Vostok 2014 is to prepare for war with the United States. And indeed, the Russia media has been doing everything possible to stir nationalistic anti-US hysteria, especially since the Ukraine war started:

In the midst of all this anti-US hysteria, it's not surprising that Vostok 2014 is being described as preparations for war with America. And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistent with preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that America would be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. The only state actor that against which such a defense is needed is China. Ria Novosti and BBC and Jamestown

Russia's desperate relationship with China

Russia has become increasingly isolated in world, thanks to its support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad and because of its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia which, whatever their economic importance, have had huge symbolic importance. However, Russia has been able to count on China, which is also invading and annexing other countries' territories, for support in the United Nations Security Council, and for trade deals for energy and agricultural products.

However, beneath the smiles and handshakes, China and Russia have a very troubled relationship. The two countries almost went to war in the 1960s, but the biggest of their current problems is the danger of a Chinese "invasion" of Russia's Far East.

Russia's population in the Far East has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years, and could fall significantly lower. The population of Russia east of Lake Baikal dropped from 8 million to 6 million from 1998-2002, and has continued falling since then. But the three Chinese provinces just across the river are packed with people, with a total population of 110 million people. Furthermore, the Russian region has substantial deposits of gold, oil, natural gas, coal, timber, silver, platinum, lead and zinc, as well as rich fishing grounds and vast expanses of unpopulated land.

With its desperate political dependency on China, Russia has said little recently about the Chinese threat to the Far East. But they did in the past. In 2008, Russia's then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned that, "if we donít step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything."

The Chinese agree. According to one Chinese analyst, "Itís a law of physics; a vacuum has to be filled. If there are no Russian people here, there will be Chinese people."

As a result, while paying lip service to closer relations with China, Russia is also developing close relations with China's enemies, especially India and Vietnam. ( "17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam")

Thus, although the Vostok 2014 military drills in the Far East are signal to the West that it's willing to take military action when necessary, Russia fears the long-term risks of war with China in the Far East. Consequently, Moscow wants to send a strong signal that it is willing to take far-reaching steps to defend Russian territory. Jamestown and The Diplomat (2010)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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