The Russian economy is a catastrophe. They used to talk of the BRICs, the rising economies of Brazil, India, China and Russia, but sadly the last of these has demonstrated that it is no longer capable of fulfilling such optimism. Under Putin, democracy has been crushed. The free press too, with the murder of critical journalists a regular event. Corruption has increased to the point where ordinary businesses, doing nicely three or four years ago, are closing, with shocking levels of unemployment and poverty becoming the norm.
Such a plan might seem crazy to anyone in the west, but for Putin and the Russians facing economic humiliation, such desperate measures might seem more than appealing. The feelings of humiliation by Russians, and the Russian military, at the loss of their empire, and the anger at the whole country at Gorbachev’s betrayal, which is how the events are seen universally in Russia, is never mentioned. I visited Russia for a month before the latest collapse in the economy, and my hosts, who were ordinary businessmen, shared this view. It would not be difficult for Putin to convert these feelings into delight at the reversal of the process.