Russian analyst, Oleg Fallichev, provides his view on a “Big Game” between Russian and its “Western partners”.
Originally appeared at VPK, translated by James Cooksey exclusively for SouthFront
The country is making a huge mistake, leading analysts say: we are not preparing for the wars that await us in 15-20 years. But even after the great Patriotic war, when, it seems, we could rest our heads easy, the USSR was working on breakthrough technologies. And the achievements made in that period of time allowed the country to sustain 70 years without a major war. This was discussed at the Second All-Russian conference of the “Analytics” Association in the Public chamber of the Russian Federation.
Now Russia is facing a similar situation. We have to ponder what will allow us to live without wars next half-century. However, leadership of the country lives in illusion that a potential enemy can be negotiated and reconciled.
Barack Obama admitted once that the US isn’t building a multi-polar world but a multi-storey building, which will house not everyone. Hence, the population should be reduced. According to Obama, there is the brain of the world (USA), its workshop (China) and consumers (The Golden billion). Russia as well as number of other countries has no place in this scenario.
The opposite point of view is associated with traditional values, principal being – the right to life, coming from Christianity and Islam. It is exactly what Russia stands for now. The fundamental clash is imminent. It can’t be arranged for. Community will either move to a multipolar world, or will it slide to the dictate of one country.
Over the past centuries the world went through three civilizations. The symbol of the First one is the hoe, the Second – assembly line, the third – information and high-tech. The Soviet Union had embarked on the road to third, but was destroyed and thrown back for years in 1991, which was, as Vladimir Putin said, the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.
Now Russia is sliding back to the second and may be even first type. At the same time we should manage to fend off the U.S. menace as well as some other countries threats. How this could be done, if before the dissolution of USSR the country’s GDP was five of China’s, now it is 1/5. If the current state of society and economy lasts, Russia is doomed, according to some experts. Having such a low GDP growth rate, our country will gradually transform from a subject of international relations into its object, which is easy to manipulate.
The sole chance for us is – a dynamic growth of both intensive and extensive type. It is clear how important was the return of Crimea, and the strike on ISIS militants in Syria, which otherwise would have come to fight on our land. But the problem lies deeper. If you possess the ultimate weapon, but no elite willing to give an order to “push the button” if necessary, then it’s useless.
It seems that West has not yet fully realized what happened, thus we will face new challenges that, require bold and unexpected moves in big-time politics. This is the logic of survival. As Churchill once poignantly observed that great powers behave on the world stage as gangsters, and small as prostitutes. Of course, we are not going to imitate the colonial England or the United States in this respect, but protection of our sovereignty is our top priority.
It is believed that the twenty-first century is a time of ultra-civilizations, countries with a population of over 400 million people and GDP of over 20 trillion dollars. Among them, obviously the United States and its vassals (Canada, Mexico), China, United Europe. As for Russia, even with the Eurasian project and we are too few in number, and the size of GDP. It is critical for us to have allies. It’s either India with one billion in population, or Latin America – notably Brazil, or China.
But integration is underway with an eye on the West – what if abruptly it brings us back into Western embrace. Indian colleagues ask: where is your project of the future? There is nothing to answer yet, as we do not understand, what kind of society we are building, what would we like to see our country in 15-20 years. And the lack of transparent strategy for the future is a serious risk factor, including the military aspect.
We constantly talk about the necessity of a multipolar world. But who wants to share their authority and rights with a weak player. Let’s face the truth. The military budget of Russia, according to the Stockholm Institute of peace studies, is 83 billion dollars. China – 216 billion, the United States – more than 600 billion, the NATO – 950 billion. The balance of forces and of conventional weapons (excluding nuclear) is 1:6.
“Multiple factors suggest that we are not prepared conducting serious high-tech warfare, – says the head of the Department Institute of applied mathematics of M. V. Keldysh George Malinetskii. – We will have to fight under the huge deficit of our own electronic means, including electronic warfare means”.
There is nothing to boast here, unfortunately. Investments made by the state in “Micron” and “Angstrem”, as well as into other facilities, did not yield great results. According to Malinetskij, having been recently visiting “Angstrom”, he asked if the company could produce a domestic mobile phone. The answer was: Yes, but it will be the size of the parcel box. So, we are still unable to establish even the production of consumer cell phones. How far can we go with such a stepping stone then?
Great Russian scientist Nikolai Kondratiev argued that wars and revolutions are associated with economy development cycles, which today is understood as a change of technological orders. In particular, the beginning of the twentieth century was characterized with the transition from third to fourth order. Leading sectors of development then were armour and aviation, heavy machinery, auto industry. Stalin predicted that future war will be the war of motors, and he wasn’t mistaking, determining the strategic course of the state. Huge efforts have been made to turn the agricultural country into an industrial power. This transformation predetermined the outcome of WWII.
However, we completely missed the fifth technological structure, where the leading sectors are telecommunication and computers, the Internet and information warfare. Now, not having this structure, we need to jump on the bandwagon of the departing train of the sixth order where there are completely different leading sectors: bio- and nanotechnology, new medicine, full-scale CAD and simulation, virtual reality, robotics. They will determine the development of humanity also apply to military sphere. Unfortunately for now, we only imitate (thanks to the “effective managers”) progress in this direction. In reality, as noted at the conference of the “Analytics” Association, these technologies are not being developed. It’s enough to take a look at our latest developments of military equipment – ICBMs “Sarmat”, the PAK DA and the “Armata” tank.
“I am not going to say that all of these projects failed or mention their cost or assert that it is just an imitation, – explained his position Malinetskii. – Ask only one question: what technological order they could be attributed? At best the fourth. So, in the wars of the future they will not be able to play any significant role”.
As said by Mstislav Keldysh, the turtle will outrun Achilles, if it moves in the right direction, and Achilles is in the wrong. We, by some estimates, made a mistake with the direction, making investments in technologies that won’t be useful in 10 years. What about Americans? They have drones, genetic engineering, and means of transportation, which can cross 500-700 kilometers of rough terrain on their own. All research tenders are open, and are being held on the basis of fair competitions. We have no open competition or they are just a formality. We are in a position of Leskov’s Lefty, who said, – tell the Tsar that enemies don’t clean their guns with a brick powder, so we also should not. Our partners abroad are getting their hands not on industrial machinery, but on postindustrial high-tech.
Why we sustained a nuclear project? Because Stalin was personally overviewing the matter. But not only the country’s leadership appeared to be ready for this big project. In the creation of nuclear industry 800 000 people were involved.
After the Second world war England lost its status as a world power and the USSR obtained it. In 1991 USSR seized to exist, and China went up a ladder. A lot, if not all in such situations depends on the strategy chosen by the government and its crucial decisions. The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which in 2010 was signed by presidents Medvedev and Obama, throws back nuclear weapons a decade ago. The 4th science research Institute of the MOD and the Institute of applied mathematics of M. V. Keldysh have had independently analyzed and came to the conclusion that this treaty is most beneficial to China, which in the development of its nuclear program will overtake the US eight years earlier.
Could it be that US could sacrifice their national interests for the sake of friendship with Russia? “Not at all, – says Malinetskii. – I am sure that USA already has something more capable than nuclear weapons in their disposal. Whatever this is, it’s a lot more powerful and deadly”.
Indeed, the most dangerous weapon is that which was never used. It is common to speak about the battlefield, but instead is likely to be a “battlecity”, where the warfare will be conducted. And that tendency required development of new types of military equipment. This view is shared by senior research fellow of the General staff Military Academy Tatyana Gracheva. The main subject of aggression today is not the enemy’s armed forces but it’s the population as it is the bearer of civilization and cultural footprint of the state, she said. This has generated not only a cognitive battles for the minds and souls of the people, but also new types of military equipment.
Did we oversleep?
New environments, which will bear the main blow, bio- and nanospheres. In 2012 Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka received the Nobel prize for developing the technology to create tissue from stem cells. This means you can get spare parts for humans.
If the aggressor-state is technologically far more superior to the ‘victim’ state, it can lead clandestine war. For example, Americans were able to deprive Indians of their territories using alcohol (they were bent for heavily alcoholism) and also infections, by distributing infected blankets.
Let’s imagine that a substance (germs), from which there is no protection, is sprayed over Moscow. We don’t even notice it. It is not surprising that one of the most secretive and important American programs is to protect their biological sphere. U.S. believes that by year 2022, it will be able to completely eliminate the possibility of such a threat. We don’t have anything similar, not to mention the fact that Russia in regard to health of population has slipped to 124th place in the world, life expectancy of men to 130th place.
President adviser Sergei Glazyev believes that there is full-scale financial, cognitive, information war being waged against Russia. As a result, over the last six years, the opinion of Western population about our country has deteriorated sharply, even before Crimea. The United States are praised by 62%, China – 50%, Russia – 34%. If we don’t denote our long-term goals, few people will invest in Russia, yet alone be friends with us.
Twenty years ago we said: let’s not tell Ukraine how good we are, but for example, how Baltic States exist after secession from the USSR. But we never had adequate broadcasting capabilities on the neighboring state. We arrogantly believed that oil and gas can buy you anything and lost a country with a population of 45 million. Russia invested over 200 billion dollars in the corrupt economy of independent Ukraine, payment that the common people of Ukraine never felt. And U.S. gave only 5 billion. But they invested in their ideology and the altering of the mass consciousness of the population, while carefully calculating the risks.
In recent years, the world has experienced a dramatic increase in the development of biotechnology. The cost of decoding the genome decreased in 20 thousand times. The next century will be the triumph of biology. Therefore, the problem of import substitution is relevant not only to microelectronics.
We overslept the huge leap in the development of drones, although Stanislaw Lem in 1963 predicted their future. And because the most advanced UAVs are now in service in Israel and not in Russia.
When the caravan turns back, a lame camel becomes the first. The reality is that we, despite our lagging behind in some of industries, in a number of others we prevailed, becoming a major energy power. This is also true in regard to the creation of new weapon systems, and other products. Deputy Head of Military Academy of the General Staff (MAGS) for scientific work Sergey Charkov recalled that facing a similar problem, the U.S. decided on the essentials. They came to the conclusion of necessity to anticipate your adversary in the creation of command and control systems, to circumvent enemies in their decisions, deprive them of ability to execute them. And these tasks are being successfully implemented.
“We take our cue from the West, though we have own achievements, there are Keldyshes and Lebedevs – Charkov is sure. – The same Lebedev created on antique basis such computers, which are still relevant, and nothing similar appeared anywhere in the world. We developed the idea of creating entirely new computers and electronic devices operating on fundamentally different principles. But we are not implementing this idea and we tend to declare our scientists who are making breakthrough discoveries, nearly goofballs”.
And if some research or development manages to break through to the top they get lavished by various Western funds. And where are domestic ones? The General Staff Military Academy today is increasingly bumping into pseudo-scientists, who like to put together ‘masterpieces’ on command and control, with combat effectiveness estimates of various military hardware. But no one lends any credible thoughts on how to do this or that. This suggests the disappearance of the country’s think tanks and shortage of pundits.
“We procreated a large number of so-called “effective managers” who can manage cash flows, but, unfortunately, do not get production issues, – explained his idea Charkov. – The accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant occurred largely because leading positions in energy sector held those “effective managers”, who only had maximum profit as their top priority”.
The country urgently needs national program for training professionals in the leading sectors of civil and the defense industries. Our President and Commander in Chief introduced the need of such specialists two years ago. But a coherent program is yet to be implemented. Each major corporation trains their human resources by their own separate standards.
Without domestic projects of the future, without a clear vision of where the country will be in 15-20 years and without people willing to implement a development strategy for survival in the face of economic sanctions and terrorist threats, it is almost impossible, stated the conference participants.