Spoiler: Even though Russia has not been exposed to any external threat since the collapse of the Soviet Union, its military expenditures have increased massively since 1999. The media often present confusing and incorrect pictures of the size and developments of Russian military expenditures. This is often due to incorrect conversion of roubles to dollars without taking the lower Russian prices in to account. It is, however, not necessary to convert military expenditures to dollars to compare Russia’s military expenditures to other countries’. Relating countries’ expenditures to other government expenditures in current prices and local currencies give a correct picture of governments’ priorities. Applying that method shows that the Russian government prioritises its military before its people.
Spoiler: The Kremlin lies again. We ought to be used to it by now since Kremlin has been vomiting lies especially about its war crimes in Syria and Ukraine. But the Kremlin has taken its lies to a new level recently. This year it is 75 years ago since the WWII ended. In Soviet and Russia, it has been commemorated as the Great Patriotic War which means that they prefer to forget Stalin’s alliance with Hitler which started the war.
The existence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol was acknowledged by the Soviet Union during the Perestroika. However, Putin seems to regret this. Not just regret it but unbelievable enough even blame Poland for being attacked by the Nazis and Soviet Union.
Spoiler: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is often described as blessing for the countries that are part of it. The BRI is supposed to increase trade and growth. China provides the funding, the expertise and often much of the labour force.
But it might be a good idea to ask why China wants to pursue these infrastructure project when other international lenders don’t. There is no shortage of global capital, on the contrary. Infrastructure projects are long term and often yield low returns. Low and uncertain returns in the far future in combination with very high capital costs scare most lenders away.
But Chinese lenders seem willing to take on high risks. The reason Chinese lenders undertake projects that may not be profitable is that they can call Beijing to pick up the tab. And Beijing can put pressure on the borrowers.
Spoiler: When Putin became president, he had a golden opportunity to make Russia a prosperous country. But instead of introducing reforms that would benefit ordinary Russians, he turned Russia into an autocracy and enriched himself and his cronies. Russia’s institutions are designed to make Putin and his oligarchs wealthy and prevent any real opposition to his power.
He’s taken control of the media, abolished the judiciary’s independence, manipulated elections, clamped down on the civil society, journalists, opposition leaders and parties. Furthermore, he has grossly violated his population’s civil rights and even used murder as one of his means.