Russia: so strong while being so weak

The long-awaited report from British parliament on Russian interference and influence in Britain and its politics has been released. It contains, what I think, is a succinct overview of Russia in the world today – and why it’s possible for some to write off the country – while others maintain it’s a primary geo-strategic threat. This is concise writing the type of which you rarely see on the subject of Russia, so it’s worth highlighting.

“We stay so strong by remaining so weak”: the old man in film Catch-22.

“Russia is simultaneously both very strong and very weak. The strengths which Russia retains are largely its inheritances from the USSR and its status as a victor of the Second World War: nuclear weapons, a space presence and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. By contrast, it has a small population compared with the West; a lack of both reliable partners and cultural influence outside the countries of the former USSR; a
lack of strong public and democratic institutions, including the rule of law; and, of course, a weak economy. Despite its economic weakness, it nonetheless heavily resources its intelligence services and armed forces, which are disproportionately large and powerful. Moreover,
Russia is adept at using its apparent weaknesses to its advantage: for example, its poor national brand and lack of long-term global friends appear to feed its enormous risk appetite – perhaps on the basis that it thinks it has nothing to lose…”

This is from the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament – Russia, released on July 21, 2020.

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