A trilogy about Russian President Vladimir Putin, based upon three previously published books from 2011 until 2016, in his ongoing strategy to make Russia a global power again after the dissolution of the USSR in 1992, with the titles, No 1- Vladimir Putin. A Geostrategic Russian Icon, No 2- Vladimir Putin. A Geostrategic Russian Icon. In the Shadow of Ukraine, No 3- Vladimir Putin. A Geostrategic Russian Icon. A Eurasian Continent. A Russian Superpower. A Charismatic World Leader . The first one is published in Swedish, English and Russian. The second and third one in Swedish and English. The trilogy is partially illustrated with photos and other images and based upon articles by international experts, mixed with the authors own analysis, which deals with the problems from a global strategic perspective. From the chaotic Yeltsin era weakened Russia and through the 16 years he developed Russias relations with China within the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Ukraine crisis, MH 17, Syria, ISIL, South China Sea, Philippines, Sweden and finally todays extremely dramatic situation in connection with the US presidential elections enables the reader to obtain a neutral illumination of the greatest global and political / economic and military upheaval.
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Cover: The Author
Can Stock 4777504 Stock Illustration - Blue Internet Background (Global and Communication Concept)
Frontpage motive of the Russian president Vladimir Putin: Pastel by the Author
A Brief History of Russian Geopolitical Development
The Last Decades of the Soviet Union
In Close Contact with the Russian Soul
Soviet Union´s Last Year’s
The Geo-Strategy of the United States in a Historical Perspective
Who will be Able to Challenge the USA's Global Dominating Position?
The Comeback of Capitalism to Russia
The Incalculable Consequences of the Kosovo War
In the Trace of Cold War
The War in Georgia
Meeting with American Army Officer
Between the Baltic and Black Sea
With Glances Directed towards the Middle East
Instead of Introduction. Ukraine in the Borderland East-West
Vladimir Putin and His Vision of a Eurasian Union
Sweden and the Obsession of Russia
Period 1914-2014. One Hundred Years of America's Strategy in Eurasia
Sweden´s Balancing Act during the War
United States Strategy in Europe during the Cold War and at this Stage
From Kosovo to Libya
The Unipolar World Order is Broken
Russia's Military Strategy and Rearmament
Russian Arctic and the Northern Sea Route
The Railroad to North Korea
Ukraine in a Wider Perspective
Talk with ex Swedish Intelligence Officer in Palo Beach, Leyte, Philippines
Malaysia Boeing MH17 over Eastern Ukraine’s War Zone, July 17th 2014
Tank Destroying Mix of Ammunition Bullet Holes in the Outer Skin
Reviews What Was the Most Likely Motive?
The Islamic Caliphate in the Syrian Civil War and its Consequences
A Reborn Russian Global Military Power in Action within the BRICS
The Latest Military Developments
The Dramatic Developments in the South China Sea
The Philippines Strongly Increasing Significance
Russia's and China's Joint Strategy
The Naive Sweden in the Epicenter of the Refugee Crisis
Sweden and NATO
Vladimir Putin's Strategy in the Syrian Civil War and the Middle East
Towards a Gigantic Eurasian Continental Nationality-Based Superpower Constellation
Vladimir Putin and the Current Strategic Situation in Eurasia and Globally. A Brief Review and Summary.
The Global Upheaval
About the Author
© 2013 Goeran B. Johansson. All rights reserved.
” Vladimir Putin: En geostrategisk rysk ikon”
Published in Sweden 2012
Translated from Swedish by
Mezerah Book and Translation
Translator: Ahad Ghorbani Dehnari, Sweden
Editor: Gillian Beal, England
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
or send a letter to: Creative Commons
171 Second Street, Suite 300San Francisco, California 94105
That morning, Wednesday, March 24th, 1999, I, a music teacher, was on my way to, lo and behold, teach a lesson in German. The new teaching rules said that teachers must be able to go in and teach a lesson in any subject. They were expected to watch the students while they did their private individual studies. This was so that the school would not have to hire substitutes and thereby save money. Yes, yes, nice thought but students were not as much interested in, because they wanted a teacher who mastered the subject. Although I had a complete mastery of music, here in the German class, I felt quite lost.
I took a deep breath for courage and entered into the hall with steady steps. Articulated with attractive labial plosive and thunderous voice, out came my poor vocabulary of German words from elementary school repertoire without any time to think about it:
- Guten Morgen swedische Jugend!
The students responded with a single voice:
- Guten Morgen Mein Fuhrer!
The boys stood up together like men and made a Hitler salute. The girls were apparently not so amused and had down turned mouths showing signs of unease and fear.
The old German doyen, who at the moment was teaching in the hall next door, opened the door, looked in, smiled sweetly and then the lesson continued very well. The students studied in silence according to the instructions I gave to them.
After class, I took a break and went to the cafe to have my morning coffee before the next lesson, but it was canceled and this free time I spent at the coffee table with a delicious cheese sandwich and freshly brewed coffee with a Mazarin pastry and read newspapers. Cafeteria staff turned on the TV and the news trumpeted that NATO1 had just attacked Yugoslavia and Serbia. I now had to reluctantly see something really vulgar and distasteful as the American pop singer Mariah Carey, lying lightly dressed on the wing of B-1 bomber, singing mushily, caressed the wing plate as if it were an erotic object. This nasty process had an extremely strong negative impression on me.
I will always remember the day when the USA and NATO attacked the sovereign Yugoslavia in the Kosovo War without UN Security Council approval.
1 North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The western defense alliance founded April 4th 1949.
On the globe, the dark green areas show the Russian Empire, when it was at its greatest, from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. The light green areas show spheres of Russian influence. Wikipedia: The territories, that were at one time or another, part of the Russian Empire. April 22nd, 2011. Graphics: Shadowxfox.
“What a colossus”, I say, when I look at the Russian Empire map from the 1800s. Alaska still belonged to Russia at this point, although later it was sold to the USA.
Expansion, expansion and again expansion. The result of a necessity to defend the geographically vulnerable European part – the core of the country. There is no natural geographical protection in the form of rivers, mountains or swamps along the borders. People were forced to rely on climate and forests for defense.
But forests only stopped the Mongol riders temporarily. In the early 1200s the Mongols occupied the Russian more or less independent principalities - remnants of Kievan Rus. Then Russia came to be occupied by the Mongols for the next 250 years.
First, with Ivan III (Ivan the Great) in the late 1400s began the process of consolidation around Moscow, and the Russian expansion, mainly north towards the Arctic and towards the Ural Mountains, accelerates through the constant battles against the invaders.
Ivan IV, nicknamed Ivan the Terrible, fought against Sweden, Poland, Lithuania and the state of Teutonic Order in the effort to conquer and secure areas westwards. The expansion of Russia continued south wards to the Caspian Sea, the Crimea and Grozny. The latter would be a very strategic point in the Caucasus during the Chechen Wars after the dissolution of the USSR in the late 1900s. They also conquered Siberia with the Cossacks and had in the mid-1600s under the Romanov dynasty reached to the Pacific Ocean.
In the 1700s, Peter the Great came to the Baltic Sea and the new capital of Russia, St. Petersburg, was founded. His successor, Catherine II, secured the vulnerable flanks around the Baltics and Ukraine. Through the centuries, Russia had become geopolitically a huge empire that stretched itself from Eastern Europe through the Asian continent to the Pacific and from the Arctic in the north to the Black Sea and Asian deserts in the south.
Russia hardly needed to fear any attack from the Arctic in that situation. Nor from Siberia where the Tien Shan Massif, an offshoot of the Himalayas, provided a good protection.
The Caspian Sea protected Russia from Iran and along the border in Central Asia was mostly lowland consisting of deserts that made any attack virtually unfeasible. Apart from a small area at the border to Afghanistan, a weak point which concerned Russia through the ages.
The Tsar Cannon in the Kremlin. Watercolor by the author
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union). Wikipedia. Graphics: Ssolbergj. March 30th, 2009.
The year 1945 marked for Europe, and particularly the European part of the Soviet Union, the end of the devastating Second World War.
Harry Truman, the U.S. President at the end of the war, was ultimately responsible for the mass murder of unarmed civilians on August 6th, 1945 when the USA dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, which abruptly ended the war in the Pacific Ocean area.
The Soviet Union, the biggest single winner in the Second World War and the only power that could defeat Nazi Germany in a land war, had now secured its borders and exercised control up to the Elbe River in eastern Germany. East Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland were part of the Soviet Union sphere of influence.
The Baltic States were incorporated into the Soviet Union and thus the number of republics that the Soviet Union consisted of finally came up to fifteen. So, the open landscape along the North German plateau and Poland which tempted outsider powers for centuries to attack Russia had been blocked.
The Soviet Union also incorporated a German territory around the former Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) and the southernmost of the Kuril Islands, which even in the current situation is looked upon with disapproval by the defeated powers in WW2.
After the war, there was a long period during the Cold War which was characterized by a massive arms race between the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR. It was a heavy burden for the Soviet system that was wrestling with bureaucracy and inefficiency. Mikhail Gorbachev’s2 attempts to reform the Soviet economy and democratize the society resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26th, 1991.
In the 1970s my interest in Russia was aroused, first in music, then in the country. I found the depth, power and the melodic sound of Russian folk music was so intertwined with the drama of the eternal struggle against invaders which characterized the Russian history through the centuries. I started to read Russian. I married a Russian, and we had children.
I continued to play Russian accordion in a balalaika orchestra in Stockholm. Thanks to the orchestra, I had contact with several prominent Russian musicians at the time.
One of them was Dmitri Pokrovsky from Moscow, who devoted his life to recording and popularizing the authentic folk music that still existed in rural areas.
I visited Moscow and met Pokrovsky as often as I could. I sang along with his fellow artists, and not just in their rehearsals.
Once Pokrovsky invited me to follow him to a concert in Suzdal, a small town with a very old and well-preserved architecture from ancient times. I wanted to join him but did not have a valid visa to go there.
“It will be all right”, said Pokrovsky. It was in the 1980s. Very strict rules were in force at the time, with quite refractory acts from Russian intellectuals.
We went with the whole group of 40 people by a private bus from Moscow to Suzdal and on the way, we stopped to drink tea with piroshky buns. "We will have some coffee at an airport," said Dmitri, because nowhere else was open then.
It was a military airport. I realized that when we met two armed guards at the gate. They came into the bus to check passengers but Pokrovsky who was known by the guards said that everything was okay. They did not see me at all because one of the singers suddenly showed an interest in me. She leaned towards me with a smile and endowed me with a wonderful cool and controlled kiss.
We went through a closely guarded area and came to a building, where there were only soldiers and airmen in uniform. Outside the apron, some aircraft were arranged, which I recognized as Mikoyan MiG-25. I had my heart in my mouth all the time, because if someone noticed me without my passport, which remained at the hotel, I would certainly have been arrested and deported for life. I was nervous, though I admit it was exciting.
The guards never noticed that a foreigner was in the group, the piroshky tasted excellent, so everything went well. At the concert in Suzdal, I was on stage and was honored to sing a song introduction which one singer usually does in Cossack songs.
On another occasion, I and another balalaika orchestra member sang when Pokrovsky gave a concert for the Soviet party elite in a cozy church on the Red Square in Moscow. We sang a Russian Cossack song with a very ancient text that described a beautifully ornate Viking ship. We were greeted with tumultuous applause. But the KGB3 security director in charge of the event got no further appreciation, as I heard later. He was not even aware of the uncontrolled foreigners who would perform in front of top party officials! Yes, Pokrovsky knew the art of teasing power. Despite the fact he was so popular, he was not allowed to travel out of the country and perform in the rest of the world.
I presented Pokrovsky with the latest model of Sony Walkman with high quality recording - handy on his many trips out to the remote Russian villages where he recorded old songs and he gave me a beautifully decorated single-row accordion. A handmade Saratovskaya Harmonica4 with handmade clocks and carved woodwork. I wondered how I could get the treasure out of the country.
My little son, however, was with me on the trip, so I simply put the accordion open in his buggy. When we went through customs at the Sheremetyevo Airport, we were checked by the customs officer who was a young woman. She became so distracted by the little charming troll with brown eyes and blond forelock that she did not see or even pay attention to the Saratovskaya harmonica, which swung back and forth behind the loudly babbling toddler where its brass bells rang so beautifully.
On another occasion, I managed to get another rarity home to Sweden – a Viennese accordion - which is a Viennese harmonica from the 1800s, but with Russian character, a so-called B-system, the same as the Norwegians have on their accordion, while we in Sweden, have the A-system such as in Italy.
On the train at the border control near the Finnish border, a Soviet border officer wanted to see the instrument's export permit. I had none. I bought the accordion from an antiquarian trader in Moscow and never thought of any receipt. After a brief argument with the officer, I took the accordion in my lap and played a Russian polka with as much power and energy as I could manage.
The officer smiled and took the accordion from me and then he played the same polka that I just played with a passion that I had rarely heard before. I was astonished. But the officer appreciated my musical art too. So, I took the accordion home with me without any permission.
I helped some Swedish orchestras to buy musical instruments of high quality in the Soviet Union via Vneshposiltorg, Foreign Trade Ministry. Here the instruments changed their country legally without the border officers’ negligence or arbitrariness.
But negotiations could be stressful especially when you were invited to drink vodka, which happened to me once. I managed to gorge myself on some sandwiches with smoked salmon before vodka with accessories was served. This saved me from falling under the table at the end of the negotiations. A full liter of Pshenichnaya vodka - the best variety I've ever tasted - was served for each participant. When the agreement was secured, I could get back to the taxi on my own legs but was unsteady. For the host people, it was not so good. Some of them just tumbled on the floor.
The KGB agents took an interest in me but they were very nice and polite and mostly wondered what attracted me to the Russian music and if I knew Pokrovsky. I also got a lift to the hotel in their curtain equipped Chaika car. It could not have been more dramatic.
Mikhail Gorbachev tried feverishly by means of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) to change the Soviet political system to a model similar to the Swedish Social Democratic. How naive can you be really? A social system like the Swedish one was developed under parliamentary forms during almost a century. Did Gorbachev suddenly forget the Western Capitalists needed a split and weak Russia to get access to its wealth? Russia was indeed made to experience this throughout the 1990s.
The Soviet Union's first and last president was already in the hands of the Western geostrategists. The economy was on the brink of collapse as a result of the arms race during the Cold War and the West knew this very well. The United States during Ronald Reagan’s presidency5 had accepted help from Saudi Arabia to push down the price of oil, which resulted in the Soviet Union becoming insolvent. This situation, providing full press freedom, and establishing free elections in a union, which consisted of so many nationalities and that had hitherto been governed within the framework of the Soviet Communist Party ideology, was doomed to failure in advance.
Gorbachev was "rewarded" with the Nobel Peace Prize which was also a sign that his policies went down well in the West.
In July 1991, Gorbachev traveled to a G76 meeting and expected absolutely that he would be welcome there. Gorbachev made it clear that he would not manage the changes entirely on his own authority, and took to the parable "like mountain climbers on one rope can the world countries either climb together up to the top or fall together into the abyss".
But at the G7 meeting, he got word that a shock therapy was needed; otherwise the other G7 countries would "cut the rope and let him fall alone". It was clear already that he was completely duped by the West. He had completely forgotten that they were striving to get access to Russia's energy assets. The Soviet Union was in a precarious position now and Gorbachev was grimly informed of it. Later that year, the Soviet Union asked for debt relief from the IMF7 and the World Bank, whose manager was the American Joseph Stiglitz8, but got a flat refusal. The debts must be paid.
This became the deathblow to the Soviet Union and Gorbachev besides being evidence that the Soviet Union had committed a fatal mistake to make itself dependent on the West which had been the main enemy ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Mikhail Gorbachev was forced to interrupt the peaceful democratization process of the Soviet system and go to a shock therapy, according to the Chicago school9. This could only be implemented by means of violence. Something the West could conceivably accept. The Economist magazine advocated a Pinochet-like10 figure who could replace the sluggish Gorbachev. But who would shoulder Pinochet's role in Russia?
Boris Yeltsin as the President of the Russian Soviet Republic felt prompted to take on the assignment. But the overall power was still in Gorbachev's hands. However, the Soviet Union crumbled now around Gorbachev when one republic after another declared its independence. As a result of an unsuccessful attempt at democratization of an authoritarian system where no Western style democracy had ever existed before, caused a surge in nationalism. An outcome that really ought to have been foreseen by the Soviet strategists.
The geopolitical situation of Russia, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on January 1th 1992 is shown above. Blue areas are NATO - countries and orange areas are CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization). Wikipedia: NATO-CSTO members. July 8th, 2010. Graphics: Datastat
On August 19th, 1991, a three-day military coup happened in which Gorbachev was under house arrest. Conservative forces in the Communist Party felt he had gone too far with his reforming zeal and during the writing of new Union contracts had given the republics too much independence. Gorbachev refrained from using Brezhnev doctrine11 to knock down the independence aspirations. May be one reason was the economy could not stand it.
On Yeltsin's initiative, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, on December 8th, 1991 signed a union agreement and on December 25th, Yeltsin, in the presence of Jeffrey Sachs12, announced that the Soviet Union no longer existed. The next day, on December 26th, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved and Gorbachev resigned as its president.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia lost its quite secure geopolitical situation. The North Caucasus remained as a part of the Russian Federation but when Armenia and Georgia left, this sensitive flank could not be considered safe.
Russia lost its protection in the mountains and deserts of Central Asia and could not as effectively monitor any military activity that could threaten its security in the region.
An independent Ukraine and Moldova brought the risk of a hostile invasion to Russia's doorstep, so to speak. Without the Baltic States and Belarus, the buffer against the Baltic Sea and Northern European plateau also disappeared.
In this situation now, Boris Yeltsin had full freedom to implement the economic shock therapy according to the Chicago school's version that Western financiers including IMF and the World Bank demanded
2 The first and the last president of the Soviet Union during 1990-1991.
3 Committee of State Security in the Soviet Union.
4 Russian single-row harmonica with a brass hammer and watches in the base module, which is named after the city of Saratov in southern Russia.
5 The 40th president of USA 1981-89.
6 G7 was formed in 1975 as a group of six countries: France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA. Canada joined the next year.
7 International Monetary Fund.
8 American economist and professor at Columbia University in the USA.
9 An American research trend in economics led by Milton Friedman. Highly critical of State intervention in the economy.
10 Augusto Pinochet. Chilean army general and dictator during the years of 1973-90.
11 Brezhnev doctrine: Named after the Soviet Communist Party's General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, 1964-1982. A doctrine in which the Soviets believed they had the right to intervene in countries whose Communist regime was threatened.
12 American economics professor from Harvard University. The youngest in history and previously responsible for, among other things, the shock therapies in former Eastern Europe.
The USA has an extensive system of waterways that is very impressive. The linked length in kilometers of the United States’ river system is longer than that of the rest of the world put together. Waterborne transport is the most economical since it is at least ten times cheaper than the road transport and half as expensive as the railway alternative. One dares to say that it is precisely these waterways which contributed to the USA later becoming a global world power
Wikipedia: Map of the course, watershed, and major tributaries of the Mississippi River. February 6th, 2010. Graphics: Jon Platek
The territorial growth of the USA over the years.
Can Stock photo
From the first European colonizers who began to force the Native American Indians out (the continent's population since prehistoric times), to the 13 British colonies' Declaration of Independence in 1776, the journey of the future USA’s history began. The American territory continued to expand westward across the continent. The French owned Louisiana was purchased in 1803. The other Western areas were conveyed during most of the 19th century by Mexico and Spain. The Western States, Washington, Oregon and Idaho became part of the USA through agreements with the United Kingdom in 1846. There was a well-thought-out strategy in this and it was that the United States wanted to secure the whole country from the East to the West Coast, as well as up to the borders with Canada and Mexico. The border district with Mexico has desert which forms a natural barrier and the border with Canada goes through rivers and forests.
The purchase of Alaska was the perfect option to avoid having Russia on the American continent. It could be carried out because the Russians did not consider themselves able to resist an attack by Britain's fleet in defense of Alaska. It was purchased from Russia in 1867 for 7 million USD leasing for 100 years.
Through a historical expansion process from the mid-18th century until 1959, when the United States officially recognized the statehood of Alaska in January and then Hawaii later in the year, the United States became what it is today. The American geography is impressive and the whole area around the eastern United States River system in the Mississippi Delta has the world's largest contiguous arable land. The United States has more food surpluses than all the other countries in the world put together. By a considerable margin.
Two gigantic oceans separate the U.S. from Asia and Europe. Hawaii was annexed by political manipulation, as well as supporting a coup in 1898. This enabled the USA to ensure it could not be attacked by any Asian maritime power from the sea.
How important Hawaii is strategically being also illustrated by the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor in 1941. Naval war in the Pacific against Japan during the Second World War was of the utmost strategic importance for the USA. In connection with the defeat of Japan and the expelling of the Japanese from the Republic of the Philippines at the end of 1944, the USA got access to bases in the Republic of the Philippines, an island country which is an important strategic gateway to Asia.
In 1898 the USA conducted its first ever naval war where it took over all Spanish overseas possessions, including Cuba. The USA kept Cuba until 1959 then lost it after the Cuban revolution.
After the Spanish - American War, in principle, only one serious threat remained, and it was the British fleet. Great Britain, which in the 18th century had tried to stop the foundation of the USA.
The solution here came at the beginning of the 2nd World War, when Nazi Germany blocked the Atlantic with their submarines. Great Britain was forced to focus its entire fleet to combat the German blockade of the Atlantic Ocean. For this purpose, Britain needed ships and the Americans were willing to give them, around 40 destroyers, which were in mothballs in the USA. The USA put a price on providing these ships to the British, and the price was getting nearly all British naval bases under its control in the Western hemisphere. The best naval bases were in Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.
The two world wars caused great destruction for all the European powers involved. With both independent economic vitality at home and military forces and colonies in other parts of the world deprived, the European empires collapsed. The USA, however, survived without a single attack against its mainland. Not a single factory, was bombed. The USA not only functioned, but the country thrived with the wars in Europe and Asia.
The USA now concentrated its force entirely on consolidating its global position. In principle, all naval forces in the West except the British had been destroyed during the 2nd World War and the USA now had a golden opportunity to take total control of all the seven oceans.
NATO was founded in 1949, in which all the surviving naval forces after the Second World War joined together under the USA's strategic leadership. The membership of Great Britain, Italy, Iceland and Norway in NATO guaranteed the American military control over the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. All to prevent any European power comeback as empire which could threaten the USA.
A single attempt by the European powers to test their power was in the Anglo-French Sinai offensive (Suez crisis) in 1956. Both England and France then found that they lacked the strength to perform marine operations independent of the United States. The European powers failed miserably due to pressure from the USA and the Soviet Union.
The USA went on the offensive regarding the control of the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese Pacific Empire lost its strength to the USA's benefit to the degree that Japan was under US military protection. An alliance with Australia and New Zealand in 1951 gave the USA control over the South Pacific.
The economic power of the USA was founded in 1945 in the so-called Bretton Woods system13 named after the small town of Bretton Woods in the American State of New Hampshire. The participants at the first meeting were 45 of the allies during the Second World War, who then tried to figure out how, through economic cooperation, they could prevent any major economic crises similar to the 1930s depression happening in the future. The USA with its strong financial position and the United Kingdom who was dependent on the large American loans led the Conference. The Soviet Union was involved in the design of the system but did not participate thereafter. Sweden did not participate either as it was a neutral country.
The agreement meant that countries were joined to a fixed exchange rate system in which the exchange rate for the currency of each country was established with reference to the US dollar. The United States guaranteed a fixed redemption price for the dollar in gold. Later, within this system the International Monetary Fund, IMF was formed. The Bretton Woods system was discontinued in 1971. This was after the dollar's exchange rate had, in practice, been floating from 1968 onwards. A strong contributory factor to this was the United States extremely costly Vietnam War.
The United States controls all North America and its security agreement with Canada and Mexico generally ensures American autocracy. Cuba in the Caribbean is an exception, as well as large parts of South America. But the USA has a naval presence in all the oceans. It’s a must to be able to exercise global power.
The only threat that could come from the South is from a South American power with global ambitions. Such a power does not exist today.
What about Africa then? In the current situation, considering the political and economic problems that many African states are wrestling with, it is hard to imagine an African super state.
Only two parts of the world outside the North America may be a future challenge against the USA’s global position. One of them is South America. Its population is mostly scattered along the coasts. The continent also has a river system which is not far behind that of the USA. But, the Rio de la Plata region is shared by the four powers: Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and the largest of them, Brazil. The problem here is that Brazil has a totally different culture and language. The establishment of a South American Super State does not appear to be an issue at the moment and this is mainly for political reasons.
The second area is Eurasia. However, this part of the world has enormous geographical differences. Here, the varied geography makes the foundation of a global power constellation, which can challenge the USA, very difficult, if not impossible. South Asia is another area that is a possibility but that would be most difficult as it has jungles, deserts, and high mountain passes, which therefore prevents the formation of a cohesive unit which can effectively challenge the USA. The Ganges River system area and arable land in India are the world's most lush. But the Ganges River is not navigable, and the low productivity, combined with the lack of a navigable river means the region remains poor and is overpopulated.
In the Middle East, the countries consist mainly of desert with the population living mostly along the coasts. The areas are therefore vulnerable to the American Navy. The only parts which remain will be Northern Eurasia, Europe, the former Soviet territories, and China. This part of the world has more agricultural land than North America, but it is scattered in three areas: Northern European plateau, Central Asian steppe and the Yellow River basin in China. But the river system in Europe is not integrated. Although attempts have been made through the ages such as channels linking the Volga River but these freeze in winter. These three areas are not connected with an integrated river system. However, there is a potential for some kind of economic/military alliance.
Northern Europe's many navigable rivers make this area the world's second strongest capital region after the United States. A combination of European states, along with the Yellow River area of China and Russia's vast energy resources could create an effective counterweight to the American hegemony.
The United States rule by division and negotiate defense agreements with countries who feel their existence physically threatened by their larger neighbors. Therefore the U.S. entered into agreements with countries such as Taiwan, which feels threatened by China. A good example in South-East Asia is perhaps South Korea which feels threatened by North Korea, which has the neighboring great power China as an ally. In the Middle East, Israel has been the U.S. priority for a long time because the country has the entire Muslim world against it. Saudi Arabia enjoys U.S. protection against Iran. The Philippines, the gateway to Asia, feel threatened by both China and Japan. This fear is caused by a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and the U.S. has agreements with both Japan and the Philippines. In Europe, NATO extends close to Russia's western border.
But there is also another important strategy to keep Eurasia divided and it is through direct military intervention. Because any marine transportation of goods works out the cheapest, it is valid even for military transport at sea. And with its military dominance of maritime forces, the USA in principle intervenes anywhere on the planet.
The USA's repeated intervention in Eurasia has an overall purpose and that is to prevent a European or Asian power threatening the United States. The United States intervened in both world wars to prevent Germany becoming such a power. Then the United States occupied West Germany during the Cold War to prevent the Soviet domination. This was done with help of NATO. Even the Korea and Vietnam War could be regarded as a way to limit Soviet domination.
Iraq may also be seen in such a perspective. Namely, to prevent the emergence of a new Caliphate under al-Qaeda14 leadership. A pan-nationalist coalition that would extend from Morocco to the Philippines. The war in Afghanistan arose to eliminate al-Qaeda leaders. Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as Iran have supported al-Qaeda in various ways. United States lacked the military capacity to attack all three countries simultaneously. However, by striking Iraq, the USA made it clear to the other countries what the cost would be if they continued to support al-Qaeda.
As a result, these countries changed their policy toward al-Qaeda and the reestablishment of the new Caliphate seems to currently be more distant than before.
But, to engage in such Eurasian military operations has its weaknesses too. Although the United States can move troops quickly and relatively cheaply by sea, when the troops arrive, they find themselves in a precarious position. In most cases, there is insufficient military personnel to effectively control and maintain a military target. This situation forces the United States to act along with their allies, or preferably, let them take care of the war for the United States, which is more or less what happened in the Libyan War recently. Ultimately the United States can use its own military as an extra trump card.
It may be noted that during both world wars the United States did not participate early on, but came into the war only after about three years, when it looked like some European power would be too dominant. The USA let the warring countries tire each other out and intervened only when it was clear that someone was going to be the sole conqueror. In the Second World War, it was the Soviet Union.
During the Cold War, the front lines were set up in Western Europe and South Korea, but only in the form of alliances. The strategy of using the allies as a tool after the end of the Cold War meant that the United States ensured no regional power which could threaten them, would exist for the foreseeable future.
13 Regulated exchange rates in the International Monetary Fund.
14 Al-Qaeda is a radical militant Islamist movement, terrorist stamped by the UN, the EU and the US. The movement has no leader in the ordinary sense of the term and is only organized into different independent cells. The goal is to create an Islamic sharia rule in the Muslim world and in addition bring the United States economy to a standstill.
Now Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the new Russia, was faced with economic and political governance in the country. Capitalism would be brought back and the public funds would be privatized.
Yeltsin was pressed for time therefore he requested parliament, which had helped him to power in the coup attempt, for extraordinary powers to govern Russia for a year by presidential decree. A procedure that would never have been allowed, neither in the United States, nor in any other democratic country in the West. During this time, he wanted to drastically change the living conditions of Russians for a better one, and gave generous promises to make Russia one of the world's largest economies. Yeltsin was supported by "the Russian Reformers" led by Yegor Gaidar15, an eager admirer of the liberalism of Milton Friedman16 and Friedrich von Hayek17. In Russia no planning was needed, they thought, for the capitalist game rules would make the national economy adapt automatically. A whole series of famous Western economists invaded the country acting as advisers.
The problem, however, was that the IMF and the World Bank for some reason were reluctant to provide assistance to Russia to the same degree that they had provided it to Poland earlier. Jeffrey Sachs, American economics professor who Yeltsin first hired as a private adviser, was suddenly under the United States' Government influence and adapted his advice in line with the United States' intentions.
After this year, when Yeltsin was in practice a dictator, everything went wrong and the result was that the middle-class Russians lost all their savings. Poverty increased, so that a third of the population lived below the poverty line.
Now, Parliament was against Yeltsin. They wanted the Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar to be dismissed in December 1992. In March 1993, the Parliament demanded that the extra powers given to Yeltsin would be withdrawn and that the Constitution be followed. In this situation, however, Boris the First, which Yeltsin called himself, proclaimed a state of emergency.
A few days later, the Constitutional Court in Russia declared that Yeltsin had seriously violated the Constitution on eight points. The Constitution which he had vowed to follow in his presidency.
Then, Yeltsin decided to hold a referendum asking the people whether they accepted that he should dissolve the Parliament. Not enough people supported him but Yeltsin announced that he still had their support. Here Yeltsin conflicted with the democratically elected Parliament.
In this dramatic situation, Yeltsin was fully supported by the United States during the Presidency of Bill Clinton18 and most of the western countries and their mass media. They accused the elected Russian Parliament of being reactionaries and hardened communists.
In the spring of 1993, the conflict strengthened when Parliament was rejected by the IMF since the monetary fund believed that the reforms were not rigorous enough for the IMF's criteria.
The Constitutional Court declared that Yeltsin grossly violated the Constitution; nevertheless, the president of the USA still supported Yeltsin. The US Congress then gave Russia aid of 2.5 billion dollars. Afterwards, Yeltsin took courage to attack the Parliament and dissolved Parliament including the Constitutional Court.
Can you even imagine that an American president could dissolve the Congress? But in the newborn Russian democracy, it went well. It was accepted by the West, and the United States' foreign minister expressed his support for Yeltsin and Gaidar. Even if the United States commented on the dissolution of the Parliament.
Russia was now a dictatorship with all the democratic institutions wrecked, but at the same time supported by the West. But, the only organization which was intact was the FSB19. This would play a crucial role in the future.
The sale of large Russian companies for ridiculously small sums in relation to their annual profits began. However, Yeltsin did not follow fully the orthodoxy of the Chicago School Friedmanism of allowing foreigners to buy up companies. Instead, they were bought up by the future Russian oligarchs who had already seized the state properties. But foreigners could invest in the Russian stock market, and pull off breathtaking wins from the country at a rate of about 2 billion dollars per month, for several years.
Yeltsin was narrowly re-elected in 1996 thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars aid from the oligarchs. But, his popularity was too weak, so he needed to do something drastic which was to strike against the breakaway Chechen Republic. However, this became a fiasco as the Russian troops were not sufficiently well prepared. Chechnya is located very strategically in the Northern Caucasus and if Russia lost control over this part of the country and especially over Grozny, then its Caucasus flank would become completely unprotected.
The Asian crisis in 1998 made the Russian economy come completely to a standstill. Yeltsin gave priority to himself and his family members who became enormously wealthy and got high posts in the private business world. Then, later they sought an explanation as to why the country’s transformation had gone so wrong. Jeffrey Sachs was silent, with not even an attempt at an explanation. The Swede Anders Åslund20, an advisor in Russia for some time, just shook his head and exclaimed "Corruption, corruption."
But one cannot just simply wave aside this enormous failure, where a golden opportunity to help Russia become democratic in the Western style was lost. Or one did not want to be a help but instead be a hindrance?
Then, once in 2005, I visited Cyprus and Pano Lefkara where I spoke with a lady who embroidered on their Lefkara tablecloths. Pano Lefkara is well known throughout the world for their beautiful craftsmanship.
While the lady embroidered she told me that embroidering was like reading history. A timeless pattern. Cyprus has always been in the hands of empires and the EU was no exception, she thought. The United States was already in decline, which she was not too sad about, she added. And already in elementary schools, she said, they learn that the West wants to split up Russia to control its enormous empire more easily.
It crossed my mind that even in this small village, which is so beautifully situated up in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains and has been a trading center since the Middle Ages, it showed that the United States' advance in the world was not obvious any longer and that Russia was still a tidbit for a capitalism conquest from the outside.
So, one can assume that there were forces that made a profit on this unsuccessful democratization and the changes in Russia. First reduce the country economically and then, in its split state, perform other geopolitical maneuvers.
How can anyone imagine that "let go liberalism" with minimal governmental control can work in a geopolitically unstable federation such as Russia was then? During the Soviet era of a tightly controlled, planned economy in a state whose ideology was strongly in line with a Hegel21 inspired conservatism within Marxist - Communist framework, it had to go wrong and it did and this the West already knew when they started the experiment. The obvious aim was to weaken Russia further geopolitically after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This was and still is the United States' primary objective.
Since 1991, the Yugoslav Wars were on going in the Balkans and in 1996 the war in Kosovo began, when the Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic brought the army into actions against KLA22 guerrillas who wanted to separate Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was supported by the West and NATO, and after numerous attempts at mediation talks broke down. In this situation, negotiations with Russia, which opposed the NATO intervention, were also happening. The day before NATO could decide, the Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov flew to the United States to go to the United Nations but during the journey the message went out that the United States and NATO unanimously and unilaterally, without the Security Council approval, had decided to attack Yugoslavia and Serbia. This was the first war that NATO became involved in. Then, Yevgeny Primakov complained that there was something wrong with international relations.
Serbia was informed by Viktor Chernomyrdin23 during the course of the war that "this is a war you cannot win." NATO had been extended only 12 days earlier to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The air war did not go as planned and the United States’ F 117 A stealth airplane was shot down by Serbian Isayev S-125 air defense system of Soviet model. Predecessor of the S-300 and S-400 systems.
When NATO talked about putting troops on the ground, Hungary refused to allow it to use its territory for fear of the Serb population there.
When the Pristina airport would be occupied the Russian Spetsnaz Units24 were there already. It could have started a war between NATO and Russia as a NATO force was ordered to attack the Russians. The officer in charge, however, refused to obey orders. The European NATO commander said that the United States should not come to Europe and try to start a war.
In September 1999, came the terrorist attacks against residential buildings in Moscow that killed more than 300 people. The former FSB chief who was now the Secretary of the Russian Security Council was elected to lead the efforts to combat terrorism in Russia.
His name was Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
15 Russian economist, Prime Minister in 1992. Known as a leading name among shock therapy supporters in Russia.
16 American liberal economist in the Chicago school.
17 Austrian/Hungarian liberal economist and philosopher.
18 United States' 42nd president 1993-2001.
19 The Russian Federation Federal Security Service.
20 Swedish economist.
21 Georg W. F. Hegel. German philosopher and representative of the German idealism.
22 KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army active in Kosovo in 1995-99.
23 Russian Prime Minister 1992-98.
24 Russian military elite force.
Vladimir Putin was born on October 7th, 1952 in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. He has received a law degree in international law at Leningrad State University. He also has a qualification in economics.
For five years until the end of the Cold War, he was a colonel in the KGB, in the former East Germany. In 1998, he was appointed by the Russian President to be the head of the FSB, the successor to the KGB. This appointment was preceded by Putin's work on international relations in St. Petersburg for a few years and later in Boris Yeltsin's administration. And on the March 29th, 1999, he became the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, only five days after the USA/NATO attacked Yugoslavia.
On August 9th, 1999, Vladimir Putin was appointed as one of three Deputy Prime Ministers. Later that day, after the Government led by Sergei Stepashin was dismissed, Putin was appointed as Acting Prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin. In that respect, Yeltsin announced that he wanted to see Putin as his successor to the Presidency. On the same day, Putin went on to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections in 2000.
Acting President Vladimir Putin arrives in Grozny on March 20th, 2000 in a SU-27 fighter aircraft. www.kremlin.ru. The Presidential Press Service.
Putin was not formally associated with any party, but promised his support to the newly founded Unity party25.
On December 31st, 1999, President Yeltsin resigned unexpectedly and according to the Constitution, Putin became acting president of the Russian Federation. He celebrated this by visiting the Russian troops in Chechnya.
Yeltsin's resignation brought forward the presidential elections in Russia. The crisis in the Caucasus escalated quickly. Putin's tough handling of the crisis increased his popularity and he could easily outmaneuver his rivals: Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. On March 26th, 2000, Putin won the presidential election in the first round
The St. Andrew's Hall in the Kremlin, Moscow, May 7th, 2000. The inauguration of President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin takes the oath to the people of Russia. www.kremlin.ru. The Presidential Press Service.
At the beginning of the Kosovo War when NATO attacked Yugoslavia, Putin was appointed to lead the Russian Security Council. Putin and the Russian military must have looked very seriously at NATO’s attack since for Russia it seemed particularly threatening that NATO had established its presence in Central Europe, even though before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan promised Mikhail Gorbachev that this would not happen.
This attack showed the USA's aims and intentions with NATO in Europe. To control the world unilaterally using NATO as a tool and to ignore such large nuclear powers like Russia and China.
Now, Russia must have realized the potential threat. The United States’ actions in the Kosovo War could have brought to mind what the US's strategy was when they came to rescue Europe in the final stages of World War II. By gaining a military foothold in Europe the US imperialist ambitions could continue after the Cold War, completely excluding Russia from all influence globally.
But with the dramatic event on September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked from the air, the USA was forced to begin to put their own house in order.
The USA had their hands full with the focus on combating terrorism, and went into Afghanistan and later Iraq and so had less focus on Europe and Russia.
Some geostrategic analysts within Stratfor26 believed that in the context of the economic chaos in Russia in 1990 until the Kosovo War, the West and NATO could militarily crush the Russian Federation. But nothing happened. The Russian nuclear forces were still intact, which must have prevented NATO from attacking Russia then.
During the time from the Kosovo War until now, the USA/NATO with their superior military technology only attacked the 3rd class military powers which did not possess nuclear weapons such as Yugoslavia/Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The West had perhaps also believed that Russia would democratically split and fall apart into smaller regions and thus it could offer other geopolitical solutions and opportunities.
Wikipedia: President, Vladimir Putin, of the Russian Federation. October 24th, 2003. Agencia Brazil. Photo: Ricardo Stucker
25 Party in Russia, founded in September 1999, the precursor to United Russia.
26 Strategic Forecasting Inc. American global intelligence institution founded in Austin in 1996 by George Friedman.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO expanded up to Russia's borders. According to Putin, this was the 20th century's greatest geopolitical catastrophe. Indeed, for Russia, it definitely was. Putin understood the seriousness of Russia's exposed position. The Russian geostrategists grimly calculated that Russia alone would not be able to withstand the pressure from the United States and Europe as well as from East Asia and China. Russia undoubtedly needed to seek global alliances now that the Soviet Union had fallen apart. There was no other option. Therefore, Vladimir Putin chose to concentrate on the European geostrategic arena. He decided that Germany, the economically strongest EU member was the most important country for Russia to connect with. Putin's experience of working in the KGB in the former East Germany and his fluent German became very useful.
Germany lived extremely dangerously during the Cold War, and would undoubtedly have been destroyed in a conflict between the two superpowers. Germany did not want to risk this situation again and did not want to be the chessboard in a new arms race. So, Germany chose to have a good relationship with Russia at the expense of loosening ties with NATO.
When World War II ended, Germany was occupied and divided by the Soviet Union and the Western powers. West Germany was the only NATO country who did not voluntarily join the alliance. This was, of course, because they had just suffered war losses. The two German states were joined to their respective alliances; NATO and the Warsaw Pact27. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Germany reunited and got rid of one of the occupying powers - the Soviet Union along with the Communist ideology and the Warsaw Pact but not the other occupying powers and NATO.
Wikipedia: Map of the proposed Nord Stream and connecting pipelines. Graphics: Samuel Bailey. November 15th, 2009. [email protected]
Putin visited Germany in connection with the signing of a gas supply agreement. He was at least as popular in Germany as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder during those years.
Wikipedia: Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder, April 11th, 2005. Photo Dmitry Avdeev
Wikipedia: Map of the major existing and proposed Russian natural gas transportation pipelines to Europe.15th 2009. Graphics: Samuel Bailey. [email protected]
The Nord Stream offshore natural gas pipeline was planned, which would extend from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany, with branches to Kaliningrad, Finland and Sweden. Russia chose to lay the pipelines in international waters. This secured the delivery route to Germany so it would no longer be dependent on the Baltic States and Poland. In the future, the pipeline network is intended to connect with Backton in the United Kingdom. It was built in various stages over the years and was finally inaugurated by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on November 8th, 2011.
A gas pipeline bearing the name Blue Stream project has already been completed. It runs from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea. It will be expanded to Southern Europe and Israel in the future. Earlier in their history, Russia and Turkey had a hopelessly bad relationship. More recently, relations have become so good that they have exceeded all expectations. The countries can now both benefit from Turkey's control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles.
Wikipedia: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the opening of the Blue Stream Gas Pipeline, November 17th, 2005. www.kremlin.ru. The Presidential Press Service.
The Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean Oil Pipeline from Angarsk in Siberia to Daqing in northern China was completed very recently. Before it was finished, Russia supplied China with oil by rail. China is now the world's largest energy consumer, (it surpassed the United States in 2010). It is supplied with oil by the world's largest oil producer, Russia (which surpassed Saudi Arabia in 2009). This pipeline has been combined with another from Tiset in the Irkutsk area to Nakhodka on the Pacific Ocean.
Russia has the resources to provide all of Europe and most of the Far East with energy. In the future, it may build a technologically advanced bridge across the Bering Strait to North America, complete with pipelines and a railway. It is technically feasible but extremely costly. The Strait is only 85 km wide at the narrowest place but the tunnels need not be longer than approx. 36 km since the two Diomede Islands lie in the Strait, one on each side of the border between the countries. Between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and Seward Peninsula in the U.S. The strait is no more than approx. 55 m deep, but the climate is Arctic. In August 2011, according to the Daily Mail, the Russian Government approved an amount equivalent to 10 billion USD for a tunnel between Russia and the United States across the Bering Strait. Thereafter, it will be possible to transport oil or natural gas by this route.
The relationship with the Ukraine has also been in focus during the post-Soviet period. The countries have a long past, being intertwined in the history of Kievan Rus as the cradle of Russia. On Putin's initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union was founded at the beginning of the 21st century. It is comprised of Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. For a time, the Ukraine considered joining this group, but later was tempted to move closer to the EU.
Simultaneously, Putin looked eastward to pave the way for possible alliances, as protection against the increasingly forceful West.
During the early 2000s, the border section between China and Russia was adjusted. Russia was preparing to handover territory of about 150 square kilometers in the Amur River Delta to China, which had long been a complicated matter of dispute between the countries. Even the 3,000-kilometer-long border was adjusted, which was an extremely important step.
In 2001, an agreement was signed in Shanghai to create an alliance between the “Shanghai Five”, namely China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The alliance was called the SCO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran have observer status. Afghanistan became an observer in 2012. The Ukraine and Turkey are also interested in participating as observers. Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey are currently dialogue partners. The alliance is a behemoth with more than 3 billion people in an area of about 30 million square kilometers. It has huge economic market potential.
Map of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Green/ permanent members. Blue/observer States. Purple/dialogue partners. Wikipedia: Map of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, March 23rd, 2010. Grapics: Sejogo
The SCO became the basis for a comprehensive and intensive cooperation between China and Russia in many areas. China has invested in Russian energy companies and is a major consumer of Russian oil.
In 2005, Russia and China conducted a joint military maneuver in Chinese territory where all weapons types were represented, even space defense.
In the future, they intend to cooperate to develop military nanotechnology.
Chinese Prime minister Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin during APEC meeting in Thailand, October 19th – 21st 2003. www.kremlin.ru. The Presidential Press Service.
During Putin's Presidency, Russia's economy took off and Russia could pay back the Soviet Union's debt to the Paris Club28. This was more than 27.3 billion dollars. The payment was made in August 2006 and it was the largest sum ever paid to the Paris Club in a single transaction.
By doing this, Russia had rid itself of its economic dependency on the West, where previously during the last years of the Soviet Union, the West did not want to give the country debt relief.
Russia's foreign debt in 2011 amounted to approximately 36 billion dollars, a fraction compared to Western government debt. Both in the United States and the EU the government debt is often higher than GDP29, sometimes by as much as 25%.
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