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FOREIGN POLICY  /  DIPLOMACY             Russia has diplomatic relations with the majority of the world’s  countries, a residual of its former super-power status and its belief that its large geographical size (regardless of population density) commands  respect, regardless.  (*KEY*) It should never be forgotten that Russia  NEVER wants the world to forget/de-prioritize the role Russia played in  World War 2, after which Russia became a super-power.  Russia today  perceives itself and wants the world to perceive it as a comprehensive  (that is economic, diplomatic, monetary, cultural/intellectual, and  capitalistic besides nuclear) super-power, even though Russia lost most  of those then-conscripted attributes after 1991.  Still, Russia’s leaders  partake in world affairs as if the USSR still existed.  Russia also fully  indulges in world organizations which operate on agreed-on laws and  protocols, even though domestically it doesn’t use the concepts of law in  remotely similar ways.  Russia will address the international community  directly regarding foreign policy but NEVER its own people regarding  same, as the people know that they have no voice to react/respond.  The  complete disappearance of functional domestic law serving the masses  has become more evident and publicized and as a result, the world  community doesn’t pay nearly as much heed to the comments and  speeches of Russian leadership, as they don’t reflect uniformity of policy  between leaders and led.  Medvedev, it can be seen in his eyes, wants to  look West, but he is alone.  Putin and Lavrov are strictly Eastern  “archers” in perspective.  These leaders expect to command international  respect and credibility via their self-imposed domestic stature and  selected weapons sales, rather than to earn it via an engaging,  comprehensive multi-faceted foreign policy---as a result, Russia’s stature  keeps falling,  just like its overall  population statistic; 30 % of the entire  population (including middle class) wants to leave.  Russia’s people and  much of the world outside cannot engage Russia’s leadership.  But there  are exceptions.  Here are a few:     1)  Iran, the one  absolutist Religious dictatorship in the world.  (*KEY*)   Russia has always, historically, sought to control the Persian Gulf region,  even before oil was discovered there.   (*KEY*)  When considering The  USSR’s/Russia’s long term policy with the geographically near Middle  east and Central Asia, the plan has always been to supply weapons (and,  on occasion, nuclear technology) on credit in exchange for absolute  control of the rights to future natural resource development, regardless of  dictatorship style.  Unfortunately for The USSR/Russia, this has always  been a fantasy because there has always been a complete lack of hard  capital, labor,  and technical/material resources necessary for developing  oil and gas, particularly.  Timing isn’t important here, as long as the  Russian-subsidized dictatorship remains in power.  The lack of  transparency in Iran’s nuclear program, combined with its   uncoordinated/uncontrolled (involving Russia) additional nuclear inputs  from N. Korea and Pakistan, primarily, have considerably weakened  Russia on the world nuclear stage.  Though Russia and Iran remain  allied, Russia is correctly being perceived as having lost control there  when trying to play to its previous strengths.        2)   Venezuela, the most recent of the dictatorship-under-the-guise-of-  Socialism regimes, being less than 20 years old.   Russia and  Venezuela’s socialist leader, Chavez, see eye-to-eye on almost  everything, although it is most awkward for Russia to play 2nd-fiddle in  terms of promoting their bond---this is why Chavez is never seen with  Putin and only with Medvedev.   Because of its geographical isolation,  Russia won’t play any significant role in developing Venezuela’s Socialist  command economy or still-latent natural resources, but weapons can be  sold there; this income won’t even have the tiniest effect on Russia’s  GNP and will be more than offset by negative publicity in the capitalist  world.  (*KEY*)  Like many 3rd-world countries, regardless of government,  Venezuela is playing its China-card to the detriment of Russian influence.         3)  North Korea, the world's only living link to Stalinism AND ancient  history.  Joseph Stalin ruled the USSR between 1929-1953.  North Korea  was founded in 1948, about the same time as The Peoples' Republic of  China.  Both founders admired Stalin and his methods greatly.  Both used great force to conscript their nations.  While China has adapted  considerably since then, North Korea hasn't progressed at all.  This is  because of 2 main factors:  1)  North Korea is a unique hybrid slope-  dweller/agrarian place ruled not only by a Stalinist but also a Mongolian-  descended steppe hunter/gatherer---an ancient historical type which  doesn't exist in our modern world.   2)  There have been long historical  links between Russia/USSR and Japan, with the former always  supporting/subsidizing the latter's subjugation of Korea.  Russia had  previously sought control of Korea itself beginning in the early 1900's,  
only to be defeated in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904.  Russia today  STILL has designs for Asia based on previous colonization, particularly  Northern China AND North Korea, which actually shares a border.   Like  with Cuba and many other 3rd-world countries, The USSR gave North  Korea much more than it received, by virtue of its huge no-cost natural  resources and ultra-cheap conscript labor.  The pace of this accelerated in  the 1960's, when USSR-China relations went downhill.  North Korea was  completely subsidized until suddenly, in 1991, the support disappeared.   China has filled in since but not on nearly as comprehensive a scale, taking  distanced care of "Chinggis Jr. the 2nd" who, along with his million-man  army, had no place to conquer and were confounded by the realities of the  modern world.  This "steppe-child" couldn’t imagine an agricultural-based  existence (flat or sloped terrain, regardless), and thus would rather starve  his people.  Industry was unimaginable for him except for a touch of  defense---so weapons and narcotic trafficking kept him and his cadre  comfortably situated.  As with Iran, nuclear capability is not a basis for  deterrence but for EXISTENCE itself.  Cash-poor Russia's continuing  support of this regime since 1991 has meant a starvation-deadened  population and a hopelessly degraded/archaic infrastructure---much worse  than that which existed in East Germany in 1991.  After 20 years, German  citizens are STILL paying taxes for the repair of East Germany, and no one  knows when the work will be finished.  (*KEY*)  The USSR devastated all  foreign infrastructures under its influence.  So, Chinggis Jr. the 2nd was  pointing his weaponry in as many directions as possible (enemies and  allies) but still bowed in deference to Russian leadership as a sign of  respect to his father and, of course, because he completely lacked the  ability to understand any other viable strategy.  It is important to realize that  in North Korea, each GREAT LEADER is singularly idolized, but the  leadership cadre of mini-Chinggises is really in control---and that each  knows their place, having uniquely Korean-influenced, complementary  Chinggis mind-sets.  We’ll have to see about the new GREAT LEADER.   Note:  Stalin's ideological visionary was Ivan the 4th, also known as Ivan  the Terrible, who reigned in the 15th century, beginning less than 100 years  after the end of the 230-year Mongolian occupation---and no doubt still  appreciative of/influenced by Mongolian methodology.  The GREAT  LEADER/Military Cadre will always have adequate supplies of the finest  Cognac.  Note:  Very short, very distinctive North Koreans are still hard at  work in Eastern Siberian forests, preparing timber for export.  They also  work in cities on construction projects, being excellent plasterers.  These  semi-slaves are just like Koreans who worked in The Russian Far East and  Sakhalin over 100 years ago except for one difference---100 years ago,  those Koreans dreamed of being free from Japan and of becoming Russian  citizens....naive folks, they were.  Today, inside their own country, North  Koreans have just as much mis-directed hope, as might the lumberjacks.       SPECIAL ATTENTION must be paid to the Georgian provinces of Ossetia  and Abkhazia.   Considered under Russian influence since 1804,  Georgia  is much older than Russia itself.  To Russia, this place has always been  considered small and insignificant, naturally, being merely on the way to  Turkey and thus future colonialism via warm waters.   As part of Stalin’s  nationalities policy, many Russians were moved to this area, ESPECIALLY  because Stalin himself was Georgian.  After 1991, most Russians left the  southern regions of Georgia and went to the northern provinces of Ossetia  and Abkhazia, making these vital Russian Federation Southern Caucasian  border regions even more Russian population-wise.  Naturally, most of  these Russians in Georgia, like those in Ukraine and the Baltics, didn’t want  to return north to the chilly lands of their ancestors.  Something, of course,  had to be done, as there were as well several hundred thousand Georgians  already living in Ossetia and Abkhazia---things were now getting too  crowded.  Russia decided to play up the need for native peoples of these  two regions to be “independent” of the historically “oppressive” Georgians,  even though they’ve lived together for thousands of years: translated=with  all the new Russians living there after 1991, it would be handy to force out  all of the Georgians living in the north and “cement” Russian dependency.   This was accomplished in 2008 though very few countries besides Russia  recognized this unique concept of “independence.”  Stalin no doubt is  looking down at this with gusto and verve.  As well, all of the raw materials  needed for making cement needed for the 2014 Olympics and the regional  development of nearby Sochi are in Abkhazia.  This situation diminishes  Russia’s stature internationally.  Yet to them, it is a simple hunter/gatherer  truth that big must control small, and stronger must control weaker.     Finally, as agrarian  China and India are growing in super-power status, and  both are using Russia to help facilitate this.  As they gain, Russia declines,  now having become a marginal trading partner/raw material exporter and  technology seller.  The end of the USSR’s significant  interference/influence  on these two has abetted their phenomenal growth and contributed greatly  to a more balanced and stable world.