Conflict

Russia wanted to steal the population and industry of Ukraine

Russia always plays the victim. If Russia was a person it would be a textbook toxic malicious narcissist. Someone who breaks into your house, wants to keep your house and your family, but when the cops arrive, that person screams how unfair everything is.

When North Vietnamese communists attacked the south, the Kremlin went into overdrive on the information front. They were able to convince a lot of Westerners that this was a fight for liberation from oppression. Not a fight for a new kind of oppression. America’s involvement was painted as imperialism.

When the Russians marched into Ukraine in 2022, they were playing the victim of course. This “special military operation” was supposedly designed to save Russian speakers in Ukraine. The Russians can attack more European countries and call that a special liberation happy operation,

Even though Ukraines military was extremely weak, neighboring Polans military was extremely weak, Germanys military was weak, Russia had been whining for years about NATO eastward expansion. In 1997 Russia signed the official contract and admitted they don’t have the magical authority to tell other countries which organizations they could or couldn’t join.

Russia has many small and mid-sized nuclear capable missiles pointing at Europe. It would take Britain 10 years of intense preparations to be ready for a conventional war. It would take Germany 15 years. We don’t have ammo. We barely have people who can physically fight. Poland was using 50 year old tanks. We depended on Russian gas. Russia has had a secret alliance with China for decades. There was no credible threat to Russia.

The actual, existential problem for the Russian regime was the regime itself.

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The Russian people overall avoided protesting against the authorities, but they didn’t want to have children. It’s too much of an economic risk. You also have to pay bribes for everything regarding your children, to get them into a proper school, to avoid them having to do military service etc. It’s a human risk. Younger women do not want to end up with an alcoholic husband.  

Therefore the demographics of Russia have become disastrous. Instead of spending the money on the people the oligarchs and bureaucrats bought private jets and super yachts, and mansions. The government does offer some programs to help young couples with children; there are incentives, but that’s not enough. Forget all the whining by the propagandists of how the evil West was responsible for Russia’s problems. In Russia its all about whom you know and whom you bribe. If you are attached to Putin’s political party. If you complain as a citizen and have constructive suggestions, you become a target of the secret police, just like in the soviet days. People go about their jobs, they get through their day and hope for the best. Lots of muslim migration.

They could run the projections, calculate what the future demographics will be like in 10 years or 20 years. Disaster.

The 2017 study “Russia’s war with Ukraine is to acquire military industrial capability and human resources” by Jokull Johannesson (School of Business and Law, University of Agdar, Norway) says: Russia wanted to get 40 million new people into their hands and the industry that is important to the war effort.

He draws an important comparison. Germany once took over Czechoslovakia to get access to 3.5 million germans there, and to the Skoda ammunition factories, and to the Czechoslovak army with 35 divisions. In total, the Czechoslovak population of ten million workers and soldiers was added to Germany’s strength. This radically changed the strategic balance of power in Europe.

Therefore, we have ample reason to believe that the addition of the millions of Ukrainians to Russia, the acquisition of Ukraine’s vast military-industrial complex along with its huge stockpiles of Soviet-era weapons, etc. may have a very similar effect in terms of changes in the strategic balance of power in Europe. https://www.jois.eu/files/4_407_Johannesson.pdf

https://www.institutmontaigne.org/en/blog/why-ukraine-matters-russia-demographic-factor

The 1970 census already showed that the Russian demographic tide was over and the Russian share of the Soviet population (53% at the time) was beginning to decline. After the Stalinist purges and gulags, some people were actually a little surprised why people didn’t bring more children into the world. Ukraine lost millions of people in the “Holodomor,” a famine orchestrated by Stalin in the 1930s; a demographic downturn from which Ukraine would never recover. In 1978, a young French scholar named Hélène Carrère d’Encausse published a report called “The Shattered Empire”). She argued that the imbalance in population growth between Muslim and Slavic republics would lead to the legitimacy and authority of the Russian leadership being questioned. In 1990, Muslim republics accounted for 20% of the Soviet population, compared to 13% in 1959. Population growth in Central Asia was significantly higher than in Russia. Russia is currently home to 15-20 million Muslims, making up 10-15% of the population. Fertility remains much higher in Muslim-majority regions (with Dagestan holding the national record). According to the Grand Mufti, Muslims will make up up to 30% of the Russian population by the mid-2030s. Russia’s natural population fell by more than 12 million between 1992 and 2010.

Between Putin’s inauguration in 1999 and 2019, up to 2 million people had left Russia, and many of them are entrepreneurs, creative people and academics, the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank, found.

This situation is tied to the other existential problem: Industrial production. To be a competitive superpower you need more than nuclear weapons. You need engineers and specialized factory workers to make precision engines for vehicles and helicopters and submarines. Everything is made from components. These bits need machines which are made from components. The industrial sector is a mess. People involved are too old. Not making profits most of the time. All throughout the cold war Russia had to buy and steal technology from the west.

In the soviet era important industries were built in Ukraine. When Ukraine became independent, this posed a problem for Russia. In 2014 the takeover of crimea was meant to secure the shipyards, and roughly 2 million people.

Ukraine stopped imports to Russia. The Russians boasted they would become self-reliant within years. Making those al those rockets, engines and so on themselves. But they couldn’t. and it was not hard for the west to figure that out.

Back in December 2012, a group of experts from the Public Council of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Government of the Russian Federation submitted a report from which it concluded that the creation of a fully autonomous military-industrial complex in Russia is fundamentally impossible.

The European Union Institute for Security Studies published a report entitled “Defense industries in Russia and China: Players and Strategies” in December 2017.

Russia was desperately trying to buy complete systems from foreign countries.

They wanted the Eurocopter light helicopters, Mistral amphibious assault ships and Iveco MRAP class armored vehicles.

Russia tried to build its own light armored vehicle, the GAZ TIGR.

According to the Ministry of Defense, at least 826 types of weapons and armaments that were previously purchased from foreign suppliers were supposed to be produced in Russia between 2014 and 2025.

But every year Russia became more dependent on imported systems.

In early 2014, just before Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Western relations reached rock bottom, Russia was estimated to have imported about 700 different types of products and components from Ukraine and another 860 component units from NATO countries.

The Jamestown Foundation reported7 on the Russian ICBM SS-18:

However, it seems unlikely that the SS-18s will remain operational until this point, as the Yuzhmash plant – as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine since 2014 – is no longer involved in the maintenance of these intercontinental missiles. Maintenance was instead assigned to the Makeyev Space Rocket Center in Russia. However, according to Yuzhmash, the Russian facility cannot cope with this task because, among other things, it does not have access to the rocket’s design documents.

In the SS-19 Stiletto missile, the navigation/guidance systems came from Ukraine.

Today, according to one source, 70 percent of Russia’s nuclear deterrent consists of the Strategic Rocket Forces; but that figure could decline to 35 percent by around 2020 if the older ICBMs in the inventory cannot be kept operational. And in this context, the development of the other parts of the Russian nuclear triad must also be taken into account – including the modernization of the strategic bomber fleet, the introduction of the Tupolev PAK DA stealth bomber and the delivery of Borey-class missile-U -Boot. Therefore, Moscow faces the very real risk of a diminishing number of delivery systems for its strategic nuclear arsenal for some time to come.

The Russians ran the calculations again. What would the Russian military industrial complex look like in 10 or 20 years? The Europeans, combined, outspent Russia by a lot for defense. Each year the EU would spend hundreds of billions more than Russia. Although the Russians can make certain things cheaper, the Europeans could, if necessary, convert conventional industry production into military production. After 10 years the EU would outspend Russia by trillions. A multi trillion gap that will only get wider.   And then you have to factor in possible gamechanger technologies in the west. Portable smart shoulder rocket systems that can shoot a projectile costing tens of thousands of dollars to destroy a Russian tank that costs millions.

The solution, it seemed to the Russian leadership, was a total blitzkrieg takeover of Ukraine. Pulling that off would bring in 40 million fresh new citizens and all of the industry. Russia could then remain competitive. Of course taking Germany would be even better fro the Russians. Then they would be a terrifying enemy for the US.

In the NATO realm there should have been a lot more discussion about all of this prior to 2022. If more people had been aware of the situation more preparations could have been made.

When the invasion happened Western politicians and media people kept avoiding the imperial calculations of Russia. The talk focused on Vladimir Putin, his personal ambitions and moods. The Russians of course played the victim.

I can recommend the book “The wages of destruction” about the german calculations for war before wwii. Instead of repeating the same old points about ideology, it lays down the cold calculations behind the rationale for war.

Germany at that  time had many farmers who desperately needed the space. Germany desperately needed a source for oil and steel. The leadershop was hoping to take these things by force and not get into any major long term trouble with the British and the Americans. Not taking Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland and other territories was deemed to be too risky by the german government. It would have meant the decline of the german empire. To stay in the game, the decision for war was made.

Lots of parallels to today’s Russia.

Next time you see some politician or influencer talk about Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, ask yourself: Are you getting a proper analysis here? Is that person really qualified to judge these matters or is this person bluffing? Is this person just repeating Russian talking points for whatever reason.

You also have to wonder: How much did Western governments know about the Russian predicament and their calculations before 2022 and 2014? Why didn’t we get the alarm bells ringing in public? And why do we hardly see anybody now talking about the Russian calculations?

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