Bid for SCO Energy Cartel reveals staggering Russian weakness.

Here’s the link from Eurasia Times (run by Jamestown Foundation, good folks if you’re in the wonkosphere).

Russia’s bid here is playing a weak hand, and admitting it in the process. China and Russia have starkly different energy needs (Russia is an energy exporter, since they can’t be bothered to provide to their own subjects, and China is a noted importer), and if the ‘Stans were still under Russia’s thumb, their participation in SCO would be a non-issue. If Russia tries to dictate energy policy to the SCO, then the SCO will become as toothless as the CIS has become.

Russian leaders still don’t get it, and are playing a late-19th-century game in the 21st century. There is no way that Russia, in combination with any number of other players, are ever going to “balance” the US and the West without developing a functional economy.

Even military pressure won’t count long-term:  right now ballistic missile defense is hard.  In another fifteen years, even if Topol-M were everything it was advertised to be, it’ll be merely taxing.  In thirty, it’ll be easy.  The old weapons simply won’t count for squat in a world where the powers with functional economies can R&D their way into Buck-Rogers stuff.  And even if Russia were to develop some form of coherent cooperation here in the SCO, the NATO countries’ economic growth will allow them to handily pay for said energy long after Russia has become utterly dependent on making the sale.  That’s what functional economies do.  They grow.  No number of “Zaires with permafrost” are going to seriously challenge the Chinese economy, which is only a quarter as productive as ours, let alone the US-EU-“Westernized Asians” bloc.

China will tag along as long as it’s convenient, just for another chance to get its thumbs further into the Central Asian pie. But Russia has no leverage on this stick, let alone the ability to dictate where it’s swung.

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