George Soros talks sense…
Putin is a gifted tactician, but not a strategic thinker. There is no reason to believe that he intervened in Syria in order to aggravate the European refugee crisis. Indeed, his intervention was a strategic blunder, because it embroiled him in a conflict with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that has hurt the interests of both.
But once Putin saw the opportunity to hasten the EU’s disintegration, he seized it.
…then gets a little hysterical:
The fact is that Putin’s Russia and the EU are engaged in a race against time: The question is which one will collapse first.
The Putin regime faces bankruptcy in 2017, when a large part of its foreign debt matures, and political turmoil may erupt sooner than that.
From the maturity schedule of its foreign debt and from all I have heard about it, I rather doubt that Russia is facing bankruptcy in 2017, although the risk is obviously much higher than a year ago, to say nothing of two years ago, before the seizure of Crimea.
Political turmoil might erupt any time but, on the other hand, this regime could carry on for years upon years, with the economy, the living standards and the people’s morale in gradual, inexorable but – up to some still-blurry future point – manageable decline.
It’s not yet a determined march of the lemmings to the cliff, more of a long, slow slide of the depressed into misery. The slope may get fatally steep any moment, but no one knows when and most hope it’s still far out into the future.
Soros stifles emotion for a short while:
…Putin will be able to gain considerable economic benefits from dividing Europe and exploiting the connections with commercial interests and anti-European parties that he has carefully cultivated.
Well said – but sobriety is short-lived and gives way to more prophesying:
As matters stand, the EU is set to disintegrate… today it is confronted by five or six crises at the same time, which may prove to be too much…
The race for survival pits the EU against Putin’s Russia.
If it were so, I still wouldn’t bet on the Kremlin in a long-term race against Europe.