Russia: The Prowling Bear Future, or The Russian Chess Master Future

I see two major trajectories ahead, expressed as the Prowling Bear Future and the Russian Chess Master Future.

The Prowling Bear Future will see Russia establish itself as an authoritarian and corrupt petro-state at the heart of Eurasia, increasingly destabilising vulnerable European economies with its belligerent monopoly of the oil and gas market on the continent. The Bear, caged for so long by the West, has been freed and is intent on finding ways to inflict revenge on its former captors. In this scenario, the tables are turned and the captive becomes the captor. The inferiority complex has become an inverted superiority complex. The rule of law has become the law of rulers.

In addition, power and growing wealth are not distributed to the wider population or invested in developing social institutions and infrastructure. Instead it remains in the hands of the key-holders of the Russian energy kingdom, the state, the energy corporations and the oligarchs who pander to those in power. Organised crime becomes interwoven into the power structures in a malicious synergy of monopolised wealth. The black market and the informal sectors mushroom. Governance of society becomes increasingly harsh and intimidating, with crackdowns on legions of tax-evaders and political dissidents.

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Eventually, social unrest and conflict become widespread and endemic. The Chechnya conflict ignites all Muslim populations in the former USSR in a campaign to undermine the Russian state, employing energy terrorism as their main weapon. Rioting occurs periodically on the streets of Russia’s main cities. The Federation fights wars on multiple fronts as the struggle for control of 10 bn tons of oil and gas deposits in the arctic intensify. The country heads for a repeat of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The Russian Chess Master Future

Russia’s Future – Grumpy Petro-Giant Armed-to-the-Teeth with Social Unrest –