World must be ready for Russia’s disintegration, US general says

14 September, 08:21 PM
Ben Hodges (Photo:U.S. Army Europe/www.flickr.com)

Ben Hodges (Photo:U.S. Army Europe/www.flickr.com)

The international community must prepare for the potential disintegration of Russia, Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben Hodges, former commander of United States Army Europe, wrote in an article for UK newspaper The Telegraph on Sept. 13.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine is going to win this war and that the Kremlin faces a historic crisis of confidence,” Hodges said.

“Indeed, I now believe it is a genuine possibility that (Russian dictator) Vladimir Putin’s exposed weaknesses are so severe that we might be witnessing the beginning of the end – not only of his regime, but of the Russian Federation itself.”

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According to Hodges, the potential Russian collapse could be gradual, before it suddenly becomes abrupt, violent, and chaotic.

“If we fail to prepare for this possibility in the way that we failed to prepare for the collapse of the Soviet Union, it could introduce immense instability to our geopolitics,” the general wrote.

He noted there are at least three factors at play which could precipitate Russia disintegrating.

“The first is the breakdown of domestic confidence in the Russian Army, which has traditionally been at the core of the Kremlin’s legitimacy,” Hodges said.

“Its humiliation in Ukraine is now almost complete, with the proud Black Sea Fleet still hiding behind Crimea, too frightened to take action against a country that doesn’t even have a navy.”

The article then moves on to point out the degradation of the Russian economy as another source of instability.

“Second, the damage suffered by the Russian economy has been too devastating to sustain a population of 144 million,” said the general.

“The loss of energy markets, which compensated for the country’s lack of modern industries, cannot be reversed. European governments will not rely again on Nord Stream-1 (natural gas pipeline), having witnessed how easily it can be turned off, and are already making long-term investments in domestic energy supply.”

Finally, Hodges suggests Russian demographics makes the state more brittle than it may seem.

“For despite possessing 70 times the landmass of the United Kingdom, the Federation has just twice the population,” he writes.

“These numbers make civic solidarity difficult to achieve in the best of times, but now, with the metropole in a weak position, any sense of national identity could rapidly deteriorate.”

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