Mark Galeotti has written a piece called “Russia heading for the apocalypse? I think not” on his blog. It’s not entirely new, but I only just got around to it. The blog post is a response to a growing tendency to describe Russia as doomed or on a path to collapse.
Galeotti takes one particular such article (by Brandon J. Weichert in the American Thinker) under scrutiny. His criticism is so scathing, it’s almost entertaining:
Look, it’s a very poor article, and on one level it is unfair to give it such a kicking, and a waste of my time to write and yours to read. Except. Except that, however much this is an extreme example, I have begun to see a new thread of such excited eschatology creeping into the fringes of the debate, and what bothers me is that precisely within other bubbles of consensus, that may begin to become canon. Russia is not teetering on the edge of collapse; it is not some vicious threat to the global order; it is not a dictatorship desperately holding back a tide of anarchy and atomisation. It’s an authoritarianism but not the worst of them, in which a kleptocratic elite preside over a country slowly returning to Europe.
If we start to treat it as some monstrous aberration, one that cannot be dealt with and can only be feared, mastered, or contained, then that does none of us any favours.
Russia is not about to break down, but the assumption does pop up surprisingly often. It keeps surprising me how often even well-established scholars argue that the current Russian regime is on a path to collapse, or that the assertive foreign policy is unsustainable.