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World View: Russia Holds Massive Military Exercises amid Anti-US Hysteria

World View: Russia Holds Massive Military Exercises amid Anti-US Hysteria

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria
  • Russia’s desperate relationship with China

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

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

Nominally, the purpose of Vostok 2014 is to prepare for war with theUnited States. And indeed, the Russian media has been doing everythingpossible to stir nationalistic anti-US hysteria, especially since theUkraine war started: 

  • There are daily stories about “bloody Ukrainian fascists,” funded and controlled by American masters.
  • A large anti-war rally in Moscow last Sunday, involving 5,000 protesters, was described as a handful of misguided “traitors” managed by America.
  • The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) was created by America, and is being funded by America.
  • Ukrainian troops “raiding our western regions” are linked to ISIS, guided by America.
  • Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was either a plot to kill president Vladimir Putin or a plot with the airliner previously packed with corpses.
  • The internet is a CIA “special project” designed to spread misinformation about Russia.

In the midst of all this anti-US hysteria, it’s not surprising thatVostok 2014 is being described as preparations for war with America.And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistentwith preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that Americawould be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. Theonly state actor 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 the world, thanks to itssupport for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and because of its invasion ofUkraine and annexation of Crimea. The West has imposed sanctions onRussia which, whatever their economic importance, have had hugesymbolic importance. However, Russia has been able to count on China,which is also invading and annexing other countries’ territories, forsupport in the United Nations Security Council and for trade dealsfor energy and agricultural products. 

However, beneath the smiles and handshakes, China and Russia have avery troubled relationship. The two countries almost went to war inthe 1960s, but the biggest of their current problems is the danger ofa Chinese “invasion” of Russia’s Far East. 

Russia’s population in the Far East has fallen dramatically in thelast 20 years, and could fall significantly lower. The population ofRussia east of Lake Baikal dropped from 8 million to 6 million from1998-2002, and has continued falling since then. But the threeChinese provinces just across the river are packed with people, with atotal population of 110 million people. Furthermore, the Russianregion has substantial deposits of gold, oil, natural gas, coal,timber, silver, platinum, lead, and zinc, as well as rich fishinggrounds and vast expanses of unpopulated land. 

With its desperate political dependency on China, Russia has saidlittle recently about the Chinese threat to the Far East. But theydid in the past. In 2008, Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedevwarned that, ” don’t step up the level of activity of our work [in theRussian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything.” 

The Chinese agree. According to one Chinese analyst, “It’s a law ofphysics; a vacuum has to be filled. If there are no Russian peoplehere, 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 a signal to the West that it’s willing to take military action whennecessary, Russia fears the long-term risks of war with China in theFar East. Consequently, Moscow wants to send a strong signal that itis willing to take far-reaching steps to defend Russian territory.Jamestown and The Diplomat (2010)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Sergei Shoigu, Far East,Vostok 2014, Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines MH17, Crimea,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Syria, Bashar al-Assad, China, Lake Baikal,Dmitry Medvedev, India, Vietnam 

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