Russia is doomed

The problem with the Russian Federation’s economic model, much like that of the Soviet Union’s before it, is that it is only sustainable so long as energy prices remain artificially high. But, of course, energy prices are almost certainly going to decline over the coming years as a result of greater energy efficiency in the West, slowing growth in the East, and greater supply as a result of the energy revolutions being enjoyed in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere around the world. And as goes the price of oil so goes the Russian state.

Also like the Soviet Union, Putin’s Russia has managed to maintain a modicum of global influence through the sale of its military weaponry. Although Russian military technology is greatly inferior to the West and the United States, it is sufficient to meet the national security needs of most states around the world. More importantly, Moscow continues to exhibit a willingness to provide it to states that the West refuses to deal with on moral or geostrategic grounds. In these states at least, Russia has been able to maintain a degree of influence.

This source of influence will also diminish in the years ahead. In some places, this will be because of declining defense budgets. In most cases, however, it will merely be because of greater competition from the likes of China and South Korea, the former at least also willing to overlook the moral transgressions of potential buyers.