Russia and its enablers

For all of the chest thumping and breast beating rhetoric about the Ukraine and Russia, few people are actually looking at the interrelation between Russia and Western monied interests that have acted as something of enablers for the present regime.

There are exceptions. Here's an excerpt from an article by Anne Applebaum in Slate:

American readers may not realize the extent to which millionaires and billionaires from the former Soviet Union dominate the London art and property markets. Some of that money represents oil profits. But some of it comes from theft.
That tacit decision to accept all Russian money at face value has come home to roost in the past week. Some of the general European reluctance to apply economic sanctions to Russia is of course directly related to the Russian investments, interests, and clients of European companies and banks. But in fact, the laundering of Russian money into acceptability, in both Europe and the United States, has had far more important consequences in Russia itself.

I wouldn't go as far as Applebaum in saying that the U.S. and Europe are complicit in the invasion or even the bullying that is part and parcel of present Russian foreign policy, but Americans and especially Europeans are definitely making money from Russian corruption and thievery. And Europe - Germany especially - can put far more pressure on Russia economically than most people seem to think.

In the end, Russia as a country isn't going to benefit from Putin's foreign policy, let alone the thievery behind it. The country is now essentially a petro-economy, selling natural resources while failing to invest the proceeds in sustainable industries. The real danger is that Russia - a land of vast human resources and creativity - will sink into a Third World-like hole, becoming a North Korea with oil. I don't think that's going to happen - Russians are far too savvy, resourceful and, yes, cynical about their leaders - but the direction of things makes that an unfortunate possibility.

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