No, the title doesn’t refer to a new computer game fresh out of St. Petersburg. Instead it’s a reference to this exceedingly gloomy op-ed by Mark Steyn. He says that Russia is going down the tubes. It’s all caused by a population riddled with disease, a plundered economic base, and a lack of prospects. According to Steyn, the only real choice facing the Russians is who they should sell out to: the Islamic extremists or China. Maybe even all of them at once.
I’m not qualified to comment on either the health or economic woes facing Russia today, but I do know a little bit about security issues. And by “security issues” I don’t mean whether or not to invest in blue chip stocks or real estate to plan for your retirement.
The biggest concern is the state of Russia’s armed forces because they control the nuclear weapons that the Soviets built during the bad old days of the Cold War. Let me tell you, things don’t look good. Everyone interested in matters military had been passing around stories for years about Russian troops that hadn’t been paid and Army bases that had their electric cut off because the bill was overdue. It was tough to separate fact from snarky rumor because the Russian government, as you might expect, was rather reluctant to own up to any problems. The first crises that was too loud for anyone outside Russia to miss was the Kursk disaster.
After it was all over, it was obvious that Russia’s military had fallen to some very alarming depths. (No pun intended.) The reason why the disaster occurred in the first place was because one of the torpedoes on board had rusted so badly that it sprung a fuel leak, which set off an explosion and fire. None of the crew which managed to escape to unaffected compartments of the Kursk was saved due to the terribly deteriorated condition of their rescue craft, particularly the batteries that were needed to power the mini-submarines that tried to descend and dock with the stricken vessel. Even when one of the rescue subs managed to finally get down there, it was found that the rubber gasket required to form a seal with the Kursk’s escape hatch had rotted away.
Two other incidents that have raised questions in the security community were the Moscow theater siege and the Beslan school massacre. In both instances the rescue efforts were led by the SPETSNAZ counter-terrorist unit Alpha Group, the best that Russia has to offer. While opinions on the theater siege are mixed, it is pretty certain that the school hostage situation was handled very badly indeed. Notice how all of the accounts mention that civilians took part in the final battle with the terrorists who were firing from inside the school, an amazing admission of the slipshod methods and lack of control that Russia’s finest antiterrorist troops employed during the crises.
Will Russia start selling off parts of the country to the Chinese, or weapons grade nuclear material to terrorists? Beats me. But I do know that al Qaeda’s requirement in their plan for the destruction of Western civilization is to secure territory from which to launch more attacks. They seem to be focused on Iraq since the US led invasion, and the jihadis certainly aren’t making any headway there. If they make common cause with the Chechen terrorists, unlikely though that might be, they might just be able to carve off a piece of Mother Russia for their very own.