Russia's Road Map to Victory

Written by Ryan Stancil
Posted January 4, 2019 at 7:00PM

In the final days of 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his country a gift of stability and security.

The day after Christmas, he announced that the country had successfully tested the Avangard system. This is a hypersonic boost-glide missile that boasts a speed of Mach 20 and is impossible to track and take down before it reaches its intended target.   

It's something the country has been working on for some time, and we've covered the topic here before. Even so, it's an event that's worth mentioning because it's the latest development in this arms race that the United States has found itself in over the past few years.

It also helps fill in a piece of the puzzle regarding why Russia is going in this direction.

2019: Year of the Bomb

It's no secret that the Trump administration's first two years have been difficult as far as foreign policy is concerned. And nowhere is that easier to see than with U.S.-Russia relations.

At best, the relationship between the two countries can be described as love-hate. While Presidents Trump and Putin seem to get along well on a personal level, the relationship between the actual nations continues to be strained. Think about it: how many times since 2016 have you heard about election interference, sanctions, and hacking?

How many times have you heard about the proxy war in Syria? The continued troubles in Ukraine concerning Crimea and the official U.S. stance on the issue?

How many times have you heard about the continued relationship with Russia being similar to the way it was during the Cold War?

We're in an era where Russia, through its actions toward and dealings with other nations, is seeking to reclaim its superpower status. This is happening in the shadow of uncertainty about whether the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) will be renewed in 2021. This is an agreement between the two countries to reduce nuclear arms and limit the number of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers. Trump himself has attacked the treaty, suggesting that it favors Russia more than the U.S.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, as Trump has already said that the U.S. will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated missiles and launchers with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. 

Assuming Trump follows through, that leaves the door wide open for Russia to continue developing weapons like the Avangard system. President Putin has already stated that the system will enter service in 2019. That puts Russia ahead of both China and the U.S. regarding hypersonic, nuclear-capable weapons. It also puts it in a unique position to dictate terms at the negotiating table of the world stage.

Putin's Long Game

When thinking about Russia’s pursuit of these advanced weapons as well as some of its recent military actions, it starts to become clear that part of Putin’s endgame involves building something that might resemble the Soviet Union of old.

On the surface, this could be seen as coming from a place of national pride. But motivations are never that simple in the game of geopolitics.

One issue that gets overlooked is that of the specter of a demographic deficit that can be traced back to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia's population then was around 148 million. Today, it's around 144 million. You can add another 2 million or so if you count Crimea, though most of the international community does not.

Population decline isn’t a uniquely Russian problem. But other countries don't have as large a border to defend. People born in the decade immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union are in the age range of Russia’s mandatory military service. Filling those ranks will obviously be tougher to manage when you have a smaller pool of candidates.

It’s easy to see how this continuing trend might influence Russian leadership’s approach to foreign policy and weapons development.

If nothing else, advanced weapons like the Avangard system, Kinzal missile, and others in development mean other countries will have no choice but to listen when Russia speaks.  

     

And Vladimir Putin is going to have his say.

Many people see Russia's actions in Crimea as just the beginning. It was the first step in a larger plan to expand borders and re-establish influence in old satellite nations that were under Russian governance not that long ago. If nothing else, it would mean the Kremlin has a smaller border to defend in the face of potential western-European intervention. A smaller border means Putin can put more focus on his country’s interests in central and eastern Asia.

Yes, these actions regarding weapons development and establishing influence in other countries happen out in the open. But keep in mind that Russia is also working behind the scenes to further its agenda.

Accusations of disinformation campaigns and reports of meddling on social media websites have continued making headlines. These reports don’t just claim interference in U.S. elections and political movements but in those occurring throughout western Europe as well. If these countries are focused on internal division, they will pay less attention to what Russia is doing until the wheels are already in motion.

That gives the country a lot more flexibility to exert its will and shift the world order in its favor.

Your Role in All of This

The past few years have seen a number of dramatic shifts towards a new normal in the world order. That’s going to continue no matter what.

With these new norms becoming prevalent in our global society, it’s up to you to do what you must to safeguard yourself.

Jason Simpkins’ publication, The Wealth Warrior, was established with exactly that in mind. It contains insight into companies working on solutions to problems presented by things like looming conflict, political upheaval, and changes in the world order.

With that insight, you can position yourself to thrive no matter which way the wind blows. It’s up to you, so act now.

Keep your eyes open,

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Ryan Stancil
Outsider Club, Contributing Editor

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