Putin's Russia roars but its economy can't sustain a superpower

Section:

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph, London
via The Australian Financial Review, Sydney
Thursday, April 12, 2018

Russia's GDP was smaller than that of Texas even before the latest and most lethal sanctions imposed by Washington. It has diminished further to Benelux proportions after the rouble's 10 percent crash this week, the steepest fall since the late 1990s.

Upon this slender economic base, Vladimir Putin's Russia is posing as a world-class superpower, the new master of the Middle East, insisting on its "droit de regard" over the old Tsarist realms as if by natural right. What is extraordinary is that anybody should believe in such posturing.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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The harsher truth is that Mr. Putin squandered the windfall wealth of the commodity supercycle and hollowed out what remained of the Soviet industrial base, leaving Russia's Potemkin economy in a cul de sac.

He has succeeded (so far) in propping up his ally in Syria but this tells us little about the global balance of power. The Kremlin likes to dismiss Western sanctions as a flea bite. Not any longer. "The measures are turning into a tool of real economic war," said Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev.

The U.S. Treasury document announcing sanctions to punish "worldwide malign activity" is a comic read, but it is also mortal threat to the Putin oligarchy. ...

... For the remainder of the report:

http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/vladimir-putins-russia-roars-but-i...

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