Thursday, November 28, 2019

Chinese Journal Points to Russia’s 'Four Weaknesses'

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 24 – A Beijing journal, Sohu, suggests that Russia has “four weak spots” including demographic imbalances, the multi-ethnic composition of its population, a failed economic model, and problems in its relationships with key members of the international community.

            The original Chinese-language article is available online at It has now been translated by Inosmi into Russian ( and begun to attract attention (

            First of all, Russia’s demographic problems have always been clearly in evidence, Sohu suggests. Losses in World War II led to a serious gender imbalance and to a shortage of workers. These have not yet been overcome, the Chinese publication says. Moreover, Russia’s population is only half of what the USSR’s was.  And birthrates are falling rapidly.

            Second, Russia has the problems associated with a multi-national population.  Ethnic Russians form 80 percent of the population, the Chinese outlet says, but “many of the national minorities of Russia are peoples joined to Russia in modern times who feel only weakly their cultural connection with Russia.”

            Many are held inside Russia and under the dominance of the Russian people only by “crude military force.” Moreover, they are not only ethnically distinct but practice different religions than the Orthodox Russians. These “religious differences represent a hidden threat to the internal stability of Russia,” Sohu continues. 

            Third, the Beijing outlet says, Russia suffers from a variety of serious economic problems. These include its dependence on the export of raw materials rather than a strong industrial base and a geographic location that limits its development possibilities. Russia is the largest country in the world but it “never was really rich.”

            In the world today, “when economics is becoming ever more important, Russia with its weak economic development is condemned to defeat.”

            And fourth, Russia has troubled relationships with almost all major players in the international system, with the US first off but also with Europe and the Middle East. These relationships make it difficult for Russia to overcome those problems which are primarily domestic in nature. 

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