Russia has a problem and has had one for precisely twenty-seven years. The problem is oligarchs plundering the wealth of the Russian state and investing it into banks, property and other foreign assets that rarely if ever make their way back to the Russian Federation. But beyond the clear financial detriments caused by this reality, there is a foreign policy problem that few dare mention.
The Russian state is well aware that even among oligarchs who claim to feel a sense of Russian patriotism and who occasionally invest money back into Russia, that they have become too familiar with so-called western lifestyles to be willing to repatriate their assets in a time of global crisis. In this sense, their loyalty is not to Russia nor to the ancient principles of the Russian state, principles which no government, no matter how strategically emaciated can change. Instead their loyalty is to their Swiss banks, their New York apartments, their London hedge funds, “Israeli” companies and their French vineyards. The current Russian government realises this reality but instead of acknowledging the problem, it passively allows the problem to metastasize like a cancer.
Ordinary Russians whose wealth has been plundered by successive generations of oligarchs can now relate to the people of Syria who have been endangered by a Russian government which attempts to strike gentlemanly balances with oligarchs rather than put them in their place. Moscow is aware that if the Russian government formulated a policy reminiscent of that which existed in the Brezhnev era of total defence of itself and its allies, that western regimes would systematically harass Russians in their countries. Everything from wealth seizures to murder would be on the table for intelligence organisations particularly in Europe and the United States.
The solution for Russia is to adopt policies that the Chinese government has maintained for years which strictly limit the amount of capital that Chinese nationals are allowed to take out of the country. Russia must not only implement identical laws immediately, but the Russian state must purge both its public and private sectors of those with any connections to rich overseas oligarchs whose loyalty to foreign extravagance puts the safety of the Russian people and their fraternal allies in places like Syria at risk.
Here too, Russia can learn from China. President Xi Jinping is in the midst of a sweeping anti-corruption purge which is quickly ridding the upper echelons of the Chinese state of those guilty of graft, corruption, a lack of discipline, bribery, abuse of power, selling state secrets, and related offences. If in a government as disciplined as China such crimes can be committed one can extrapolate the problems in Russia by a magnitude of one-hundred fold. As a result, the entire world is afraid to harm China and those who hysterically dare end up being on the losing end of history.
By purging from power those with direct culpability, who through affinity are connected with piratical overseas oligarchs, Russia can purify its bureaucracy, political class and business sector in order to become less beholden to those whose interested are not tied to the Russian state but with Russia’s enemies. This is why China is able to exercise an independent foreign policy far more effectively than Russia. In China the wealthy answer to the legal authorities, in Russia both consciously and unconsciously, the legal authorities are beholden to the wishes of jet-setting traitors who have more passports in their name (and pseudonyms) than cards in a blackjack dealer’s deck.
This is the only way forward. If Russia was able to act independently of the corrupt, traitorous mafioso overseas oligarchs, Moscow would have been able to explain to the US and its client states that any attack on Syria would be interpreted as a direct attack on the Russian Federation – a state with more nuclear weapons than any other on earth. At such a point, the war would have subsided and the best the tripartite aggressors could have done is pass meaningless sanctions that only effect those in Russia dependent on the financial systems of enemy powers. Such a plan could guarantee peace for several generations if not a century.