Putin’s Cash Flow Crunch

The reports that Mr Putin is ready to move on finishing the final link on his gas line to China are certainly interesting and, in my eyes, reflect his perceived need to boost his income statement in the near term while hoping that China will become dependent on his gas in the long run.

While it might be tactically nice to get a cash influx from the PRC that will allow Putin more flexibility in dealing with his difficult European neighbors, in the long run I question the strategic wisdom of his placing such an important element of Russia’s financial future in the hands of his Chinese neighbors. After all, China isn’t the Ukraine.

Who seriously doubts China’s intention to become the dominant Asian and Western Pacific power? If that goal is realized, how does that further Russian interests? It certainly doesn’t as they see their national power stretching from Murmansk to Crimea to Vladivostok. China doesn’t fit into that map.

chinarussiaThe news in the past week indicates that others are willing to stand-up for their sovereign claims–Vietnamese ocean oil rights, and Japan’s move to modify their post-War Constitution in a way that would allow them to be more proactive in regional defense activities. Then, the Philippines have invited us to increase our presence in their Islands.

So, I wonder, why would it be important for China to enter into special arrangements with Russia when that could impinge on their ability to maintain friendly economic relations with the rest of the world? Certainly, politically, Russia is nothing but trouble. And, militarily, those two working together have the makings of a real mess between the two principals.

71 thoughts on “Putin’s Cash Flow Crunch”

  1. Flatus:

    Excellent choice for a discussion topic.

    I disagree with your argument that Russia is making a mistake.

    This deal gives both sides what they need. China gets: (A) lots of cheap energy; and also (B) a way to get rid of the vast hoard of hard currency (US Dollars) it is accumulating in its huge trade surplus with the USA. (They have all of our money, and nowhere to spend it.)

    The deal gives Russia all those US dollars, which Putin can then use to buy ANYTHING he wants, world-wide.

    Maybe he will buy the LA Clippers.

    Also, Russia won’t be dependent on “cooperation” with the Europeans anymore. He doesn’t have to be nice to them or worry about their reaction to anything he does, for example, in the Ukraine.

    This deal has ominous long-term implications for world peace. The Russian and Chinese economies will flourish, while the US and European economies will grow more slowly, changing the balance of global economic (and military) power.

  2. While it might be tactically nice to get a cash influx from the PRC that will allow Putin more flexibility in dealing with his difficult European neighbors, in the long run I question the strategic wisdom of his placing such an important element of Russia’s financial future in the hands of his Chinese neighbors.

    flatus, perhaps he had no choice. mother russia might be just as financially indebted to or en-netted with grandmother china as we are.
    aside from that, it will be interesting to watch when china turns the same historic ethnic argument tables on putie’s so-called “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia” claim. except hers will be a genetic claim thru the very fertile genghis khan (of whom, according to a 2012 chinese study , as many as 0.5 percent of all males on the planet today may be descendants and most particularly mother r’s sons.).

  3. nash and pogo, the interminable, all-night at high decibel calls of the whippoorwill and chuck-will’s-widow could put to shame the best enhanced interrogation technicians (aka torturers). woodpecker noise pales in comparison.

  4. If Putin buys the LA Clippers…

    (1) Name change: LA Cossaks

    (2) The vendors will sell vodka, not beer.

    (3) Players who don’t accept the team’s contract offer will be taken outside and shot.

  5. chuck-will’s-widow (this is only 51 seconds… imagine all night long right outside the bedroom window)

    and this is a very bad imitation of the whippoorwill’s song

  6. PatD:

    re: Noisy bird outside the bedroom window all night.

    I guess I should be thankful that my woodpecker neighbor waited until dawn to make a racket.

  7. Don’t mean to be trivial about Flatus’ thoughtful piece, but every time I look at a map of the region I’m surprised all over again at the dominating size of Russia’s land mass. But how much of it is actually inhabitable compared to China? Would like to see a map of that.

  8. The impression of who is at the center of the world is very dependent on the mapmaker’s projection. Historically, the people controlling the mapmakers have made it clear that the projection chosen should reflect their view of ground truth. FWIW, we in the military used the UTM system.

    “Siberia is typically referred to as a “frozen wasteland.” This land region makes up about 77% of Russia’s territory (13.1 million square kilometres), but has only 25% of Russia’s population (36 million people).”

  9. from sploid

    “We can say little, if anything, about what these patterns [above] signify, why they were cut into rocks, or who created them. For all intents and purposes, they might have been made by aliens.” When a new NASA book on alien communications has a paragraph like that, you better pay attention.

    looks like a new fun summer read

  10. Nash 2.5,

    Nash, I agree with much of what you say in the Tactical sense. But in the longer run I think any sort of meaningful “I’ve got your back come hell or high water” relationship simply will not exist.

    I see the relationship collapsing much as the Stalin/Mao did in the 50s. I think this Times article kind of sums up how things will unfold.

  11. about “Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” from nasa

    Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence. These scholars are grappling with some of the enormous challenges that will face humanity if an information-rich signal emanating from another world is detected. By drawing on issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology, we can be much better prepared for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come.

    click on above nasa link for kindle, ebook, and pdf downloads.

  12. Here’s a really neat chart showing the relative population density of the world’s sovereign entities. China is 83d from the top with many surprises much more densely populated than they including the UK, Germany, Japan, and both Koreas. A very interesting scan.

  13. And it makes me wonder how they can kill so many people through uncontrolled air pollution when others, with many more people squeezed in, are doing so much better.

  14. And now enough of this. It’s time to mourn Kumcho’s passing once again. I’ve got a couple hundred bottles of wine laying around, but that wouldn’t make her happy. Maybe I’ll have breakfast for the 4th time today.I’m glad her clock stopped on Memorial Day weekend.

  15. Flatus:

    Both Russia and China have one goal: expanding their economic/military empires.

    In the short term neither one has to worry about the other: they have plenty of places to expand into without coming into conflict. Russia will try to reabsorb the former “Soviet” states (and bully Western Europe), and China has its eyes on Southeast Asia (and Japan).

    In the long term, yes they may come into conflict, but their principal economic and military “threat” right now is the USA. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    I think the leaders of both Russia and China are focusing on what I would call the “near long term,” 5-10 years in the future.

    Only when they get close to achieving equal economic and military power to the USA will they start worrying about each other.

    The LONG term? The goal of each is world domination, but then the Republicans neo-cons had the same goal. The Iraq War was supposed to be the first step in their master plan.

    In George Orwell’s “1984,” the world was divided into three spheres: one centered in the far east, one centered in the Americas, and one centered in Europe/Russia.

    Orwell was right; it just took a bit longer than he thought.

  16. To: The USA, Russia, and China

    From: The Planet Earth’s Eco-Sphere

    Re: World Domination

    Just keep burning those fossil fuels and in 100 years or so the human species will be about as significant as the dinosaurs are today.

    I think you call them “birds.”

    They are still around but they don’t seem to be very “dominant.”

  17. The Belmont Stakes is in two weeks. Here are the likely contenders. I’ll keep you posted on finals and post position once it happens.

    California Chrome
    Commanding Curve
    Intense Holiday
    Kid Cruz
    Ride On Curlin
    Social Inclusion
    Wicked Strong

  18. Flatus… Kumcho was obviously well loved.

    Jamie… put me down for California Chrome… my shadow will be on Wicked Strong.

  19. Memorial Day: war movies all weekend.

    I’m watching what has to be one of the dumbest war movies ever made, “Heartbreak Ridge,” which is about Reagan’s silly “war” in Grenada.

    It stars Clint Eastwood who looks like he’s about sixty years old, as a Marine Corps sergeant who is, naturally, fitter and tougher than any of the other Marines who are 1/3 his age.

    The plot is stupid, the script must have been written by a kid in high school, and the theme is…”violence can solve any problem.” Who could disagree with that?

    One might ask, if this film is so bad, why am I watching it?

    Because I’m a guy. It’s what we do. We HAVE to watch war movies.

  20. Nash 2.5: One might ask, if this film is so bad, why am I watching it?
    Because I’m a guy. It’s what we do.

    from red green show the Man’s Prayer:
    “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.”

  21. while putie is playing footsie with the chinese, he’s also playing down charles comparing him to adolf. interesting analysis from bbc on why the “restrained response from the Kremlin and in the Russian press”

    … the spat over Prince Charles’s alleged remarks may even be quite useful – to reinforce the message that his aim now is not to look for insults but to rebuild bridges.

  22. httpv://youtu.be/wpZ3jPMM5Ac

    Sunday Serendipity.
    Have a great Memorial day weekend! Enjoy.

  23. PatD:

    After watching Clint Eastwood, I’ll put in a DVD of “Sleepless in Seattle” to restore balance.

  24. patd

    Ha! The son and grandson donned plaid recently and went to a local performance by Red/Green – In the course of which they were required to recite the prayer. As the woman in residence, I don’t think it made a difference :)

  25. Here is what I have so far and will keep you posted on changes. Despite my heart being totally with California Chrome, I’ll place the alternate bet on Ride On Curlin.

    California Chrome
- Rebellious
    Commanding Curve


- Nash 2.5
    Intense Holiday

    Kid Cruz

    Ride On Curlin
- Jamie

    Social Inclusion
- Craig

    Wicked Strong – Jace, Renee’s Shadow,

  26. At 11:00 AM today, Craig is going to be on Fox News?

    Maybe they’ll give him an “Impeach Obama” coffee mug.

  27. Oh God Craig,

    Turned to Fox to watch you and the whole opening is typical Barfomatic nausea inducing … This is not going to be easy.

  28. MSNBC had a good conversation along the “how to fix” lines. From the military guys it came down to access not service. The privatizing of normal care is the way to go with the VA hospitals & Centers handling what they do best: War injuries and mental PTSD including alcoholism and drug addiction.

  29. Jamie:

    The VA was running just fine before the wave of Iraq and Afghanistan vets showed up.

    The solution is just to increase funding for the VA, which the GOP has blocked.


  30. predicting he’ll win by a nose (strip), please put me in the saddle with renee on ca chrome, jamie

  31. Nash

    The wave certainly created the severe problem as it adding to the aging population of Korean and Viet Nam retirees. That’s why I said the VA should concentrate on what it does best: War related conditions. Most doctors never see crush or explosive injuries not to mention the brain injuries and mental conditions.

    What the private sector can handle well is aging and related diseases. It would help to relieve the pressure on the VA hospitals and provide better service and immediate access for treatment for the retirees.

  32. There is also the mental health aspect of a VA presence where an otherwise healthy vet can go and hang-out with other vets in a drug and alcohol free environment and simply shoot the shit.

    The ubiquitous VFWs and other vet organizations are now a thing of the past. Something must be created to take their place. The web helps, but you can’t look a person in the eye.

  33. Flatus

    My dad was a member of both The Elks and the VFW as well as being involved in AA as he was dry the last 10 years of his life. You are right about those support systems that were provided by the social groups that are disappearing. It would be a good thing if the returning service men could provide new life to the old organizations.

  34. People who have stepped up to serve and who have completed years of service are special. Generally, the training has been arduous, and they have been separated from loved ones while using that training in oversea or shipboard assignments, often at personal risk or in harms way to themselves or their buddies.

    Quite simply, no matter what job they may have had, another person doesn’t know what baggage another individual carries from his or her service. That’s why I am reluctant to deny people access to the VA hospital unless they flash a Purple Heart.

  35. Craig, Howard K had you there for eye candy; he’s really gone to the dark side. It seemed as if all he wanted was people to validate his Fox-provided bullets.

    Under those conditions, I thought you did really well.

  36. The big thing in the above article is this line “Putin also said China and Russia will consider further steps to shift to use of national currencies in bilateral transactions.”

    I guess that means Australia may eventually become a storehouse for rubles as well as yuan.

  37. from wapo

    BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — President Obama arrived in Afghanistan Sunday for an unannounced visit to mark Memorial Day with U.S. troops, now in the final months here of America’s longest war, and to begin final discussions over the size of the U.S. force that will remain beyond the end of the year.

    Inside a cavernous hanger here, with a tennis-court-size American flag as a backdrop, Obama told a raucous audience of about 3,000 U.S. troops that the American public “stands in awe of you,” grateful for their service and united in support of veterans as they return home.
    “Our obligations to you and your families have only just begun,” Obama said.

  38. patd, it would be helpful if the Tampa Bay Times reprinted that piece. Shinseki is a soldier’s soldier.

  39. You can’t eat gold. More likely that nasty, old chemical company will continue to destroy/de-nourish the worldwide supply, thus controlling everything they can.

    Meanwhile, the seasons change (which my great-grandma said was a sign of the end being nigh, along with there being lights as far as the eye can see & good people locking themselves inside because there would be so many bad people).

    Chemical & oil companies & the power they wield around the world, those are the ones to fear.

    Putin is nothing, China is nothing. But if they’re such a nuisance, in the short, short-term we can ship ’em GMO grains, high-fructose corn syrup & tobacco.

  40. blueINdallas, I agree, Blue, Putie is a miserable excuse for a man as well as a human being. He has destabilized a strategically important region of the world and has killed people with a shrug of his shoulders. He’s a pig from the Stalinist mold.

    China is ‘something’ to watch carefully because their own people have no expectation that their fundamental rights will be respected. Why in the world should they respect the rights of other peoples?

    I liked your comment.

  41. Flatus,

    flatus -I may be paranoid; I see most everything as a magician’s redirect away from what we aren’t meant to see. The Keystone pipeline & those horrible tar sands, the GMO labeling fight, bees disappearing from pesticides, fossil furld part in climate change (and pollution), etc.

    These are the things I think the media must be on the payroll not to report. I can find no other reason for the piss-poor job they do.

    The more folks are provoked by something far away, the less attention will be paid to problems at home that they might mobilize to correct.

    I liked your article, too, flat us. As I said, I am probably paranoid.

  42. Jamie:

    I apologize for misunderstanding your point.

    Yes, I agree. The VA should not be used as default health insurance for every aging veteran, but only those with service-connected health problems.

    I am a veteran but I have no health problems related to my service and I would not dream of using the VA’s services.

    Of course, I have the luxury of a “platinum” health insurance plan granted to retirees by a union contract. Most veterans don’t have that.

    They do have access to Obamacare now, but they feel they have an absolute right to FREE healthcare for life from the VA. That is what they have been told by politicians of both parties for decades.

    My uncle thought that way. He was fairly affluent but, as a veteran, he felt he was entitled to free health care from the VA. He waited so long for an appointment (this was in the 1980s) that by the time he got to see a doctor, he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer that was too far advanced to treat.

    He died on a point of principle.

    But then, he was also a Republican who kept voting for the people who were systematically underfunding the VA.

    Go figure.

  43. One more point on the VA.

    When I was a kid in the 1950s, my father, who was a WWII Navy combat veteran (he was on two ships sunk by German subs) once told me, as we were driving by a VA hospital, “Don’t ever go in there. They are the worst hospitals in the country.”

    I have never forgotten that.

  44. blueINdallas,

    Oh, yes. They do that all over the world. It’s something they learned from the British and Dutch. One would think the Australians would be wise to the practice.

  45. Called for a doc appt & had to make sure they would take my new insurance since my co changed providers. (I’ve been at this clinic for a decade, mind you.)
    They asked if it was through “Obamacare.”
    Nope, my employer just changed (because they couldn’t afford the 30% increase on top of the 15% increase from 2012), so then they told me it was OK.

    Makes me wonder how much luck people will have with a doc taking a new patient with an ACA plan?

  46. Basic thought on the topic of the day.
    Putin isn’t a pimple on Stalin’s behind.
    nuff said.
    China has as many problems as it creats for others. They have yet to deal with their empire falling apart. what many of us fail to realize that Chinese language from region to region is much like Latin. The French speak a version of Latin So do the Italians as do the Spainish yet my Italian neighbor and my Hispanic neighbor can’t talk to each other except by using English
    china has the same problem.


  47. Today was decoration day at the cemetery where my paternal grandfather’s family were mostly buried , next week is decoration day for my paternal grandmothers family cemetery.
    As a kid I went with the family to each and meet distant cousins and listened to the stories, family history some of which went back to the civil war.
    so this time of year has more to do with personal history than it has to do with patriotic flag waving

    Tomorrow is the patriotic holiday


  48. The second a little closer and more personal for some of us.

Comments are closed.