Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
QUORA: WHY IS RUSSIA SUCH AN IMPORTANT COUNTRY WHEN IT HARDLY DOES ANYTHING ANY MORE?
This question is both a statement and a question but the statement part is absolutely false, undoubtedly influenced by Western (mostly US and NATO) msm and political propaganda.
The writer is not necessarily to blame. I can only surmise that this questioner has been reading the Western msm and has seen little to nothing indicating that Russia is, for example, actively fighting terrorists in Syria, though this could not be farther from the truth. Russian bombing runs are ongoing in Syria but the US msm has an interest in making the public believe that only the US is fighting terror there (the assassination of Baghdadi was a minor distraction), so it hardly reports these Russian efforts. The results of such obfuscation of vitally important news cannot be predicted but certainly cannot be good for anyone. All wars are due to ignorance. Based on the Russian moves in Syria, I suspect that at some point, Russia will find a way to force the US to exit. After all, now that Trump has made it clear he fully intends to breach international law to steal Syrian oil, the whole world knows, and informed people would not blame Russia for intervening to save the oil of its impoverished war torn allies from grand larceny by the biggest criminal government in the world. But I also suspect that Russia may be awaiting the results of the 2020 election to make its move. After all, as confused and harmful as Trump’s policies are, the Russians know that the Democrats, who are clearly infected with a terminal case of Russophobia, could be more dangerous to Russia than a confused Republican. Unless, that is, Tulsi Gabbard could by some miracle, win the presidency, though that possibility seems virtually nil.
For those Westerners who really want to know what the Russian, Syrian and Turkish militaries are doing in Syria, the main – or only? – sources of daily Middle East news are non-Western, for example:
Even Russian media aimed at Western audiences, like Sputnik and RT, though helpful, are a little short-shrifted on events in the Syrian theatre.
As for its economy, Russia does much more than any Western country to build and diversify its economy, laying to rest the now-deceased Sen. John McCain’s statement that Russia is a “big gas station.”
I had previously written at Quora an answer showing that Russia is the healthiest and most stable of all the world’s industrial economies: https://www.quora.com/Is-Russia-stronger-than-the-US/answer/Vince-Dhimos
Russia’s economy includes, but is by no means limited to, the following economic sectors:
Agriculture. Russia is now the world’s biggest exporter of wheat (that alone should put the vicious “Russia does nothing” myth to rest). It also has pretty much replaced most of its prior agricultural imports by raising its own crops and meat. It decided to do this in retaliation to the European sanctions foisted on it by the US. It now has replaced almost all food imports, with the exception of Turkish tomatoes, for example, because Turkey is one of the few countries that cooperates with Russia and does not slavishly apply US-imposed sanctions.
According to export.gov,
“For the 2017/2018 season, Russia was the world’s largest producer of barley; the fourth-largest producer and the largest exporter of wheat; the second-largest producer of sunflower seeds; the third-largest producer of potatoes and milk; and the fifth-largest producer of eggs and chicken meat.”
Automotive manufacture: According to this site relating to the Russian and CIS automotive industry,
“After the slowing of sales in 2013-16 against a backdrop of general macroeconomic decline, the market began recovery in 2017. The growth accelerated to 12.8% in 2018 and a total of 1.8 mln passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were sold. According to EY forecasts, sales will continue this upward trend, passing the two million mark by 2021.”
The site also mentions that Russia manufactured 82,000 trucks and 48,000 buses in 2018.
Civil aeronautics industry: According to Vedomosti (my translation):
“By 2025, China itself will become the world leader in air transportation.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) this year is a partner country of the Russian MAKS [Russian international air show]. Russia and China can effectively complement each other in the aircraft industry, says Oleg Panteleev, executive director of the AviaPort industry agency. In Russia there is a scientific school, qualified designers, some critical technologies. But there is no money, market, access to materials and equipment. China has all this, but it lacks knowledge and skills.”
Russia and China have already unveiled a mock-up of a jointly designed airliner intended to enter a market currently dominated by Western makers.
Russian farm equipment: The site export.gov reports:
“According to the Russian Association of Specialized Machinery and Equipment Producers (“Rosspetsmash”) and Russian Customs statistics, the Russian agricultural equipment market grew 3% in 2018 to $1.5 billion. Fertilizer spreaders experienced the most significant sales growth – by 58%, to 644 units. Sales of sprayers rose by 29% to 1,179 units; forage harvesters by 19% to 532 units; all-wheel drive agricultural tractors by 18% to 2,276 units. Last year 2,649 mowers were purchased on the domestic market, which represented a 12% increase over 2017; 1,230 units of balers (10% growth); and 4,048 harrows (6.3% growth).”
“According to AgroVestnik, a Russian agricultural media outlet, the previously negative market trend for agricultural tractors reversed itself, with 3.8% year-on-year growth during the time period January-November 2018. A positive trend was also reported in the all-wheel drive vehicle sector, with a significant increase of 19.3%.”
International arms sales: According to forecastinternational.com, Defense and Security Monitor reported in June:
“Russian arms exports since the start of 2019 have totaled nearly $6 billion, according to Rosoboronexport chief executive Alexander Mikheyev.”
This is despite the frantic efforts of US lawmakers and the White House to illegally curtail Russian arms sales. Turkey, for example, defied US-imposed sanctions to purchase the highly effective S-400 air defence system, which has been effectively protecting Russian assets in Syria.
India has also gone ahead with the purchase of the S-400 despite a threat of US sanctions.
The US has used the ridiculous threat that the purchase of this superior air defence system would somehow harm the “security” of the countries, which, of course, made the purchase to enhance their security.
Energy: Gas and oil extraction and processing still lead the Russian economy, with Russia also helping foreign countries develop their energy resources.
The pipeline project Nord Stream II was designed to deliver natural gas from Russia to Western Europe, mainly Germany. The project ran into major snafus thanks mainly to the US, which tried to sanction anyone involved in the project. US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell threatened and cajoled and used every trick in the book to prevent this project from being completed. Denmark, which is more Russophobic than most of Europe, tried to block the laying of pipeline in its territorial waters but finally relented and now the last of the pipe will be laid. The US used the old favourite pretence that Russian gas could somehow jeopardize European “security.” Germany saw through the ruse aimed at forcing Europe to buy expensive US LNG instead of the cheaper Russian gas.
If you look at the statistics from the EIA, Energy Information Administration, you will get the initial impression that the US leads the world in energy, and this is – sort of – true. In fact, energy is the reason for those new jobs that the current administration touts.
But here’s the catch: while Russian oil and gas extraction actually pays the bills in the RF, US domestic energy extraction, ie, both oil and gas, has been running in the red, for the reasons enumerated in my Quora answer here (read the numbered paragraphs): https://www.quora.com/How-badly-is-China-really-doing-as-a-result-of-Trump-s-trade-war/answer/Vince-Dhimos. This situation is confirmed by all serious sites on the subject of oil and gas, such as Oilprice.com, the most authoritative source.
Sadly, shale oil and gas were the pillars of the administration’s plans for the US economy but the shale dream is now shattered. To put it bluntly, shale oil and gas will not save the US economy from atrophy.
Another energy source that is absent from US industry is nuclear power.
According to world-nuclear.org:
“Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction. Foreign orders totalled $133 billion in late 2017.”
The Moscow Times reports that Russia’s nuclear power industry is still going quite strong.
Russian international conferences, summits and forums include hundreds of international conferences listed at this site;
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which hosts national leaders. For example, in 2019, it hosted the president of the PRC and Bulgaria, the prime ministers of Armenia and Slovakia, and the UN secretary-general;
The Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, which was attended by over 50 leaders of African countries, who signed $12.5 billion worth of deals. (Yet Foreign Policy managed to call this summit a “failure.”)
The Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivlastok, hosting leaders of several countries, including Mongolia, India, Japan and India. 1,800 projects emerged from this forum.
Russia earns money and garners additional prestige from these conferences and summits.
Military and Diplomatic achievements:
Putin has intervened to block US military attacks on several occasions, saving countless lives.
The first such instance was in 2013 when Obama claimed that Assad had crossed a red line in Syria, allegedly using a banned chemical weapon. Putin offered to negotiate with Assad and as a result, Assad agreed to destroy its store of chemical weapons under the supervision of international inspectors, leading Obama to call off a missile strike on Assad’s military assets.
In the Trump administration, a missile strike was made on the strength of a mere accusation. Later, another accusation was made and Trump promised to repeat the experience. This time, however, the Russian MoD warned that if the US or its allies harmed any Russian assets or personnel, Russia retained the right to destroy the platform (naval ship) whence the offending missile came. The US nervously followed through with the attack but never attacked again despite the recurrence of such accusations (falsely brought by the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets, as summarized here).
Meanwhile, Trump declared as president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, an obscure politician who had never received a vote in a presidential campaign. When the actual elected president, Nicolás Maduro, refused to heed the US president’s unreasonable demand to step down, Trump threatened to invade. Shortly thereafter, Russia sent several military aircraft to Venezuela as a deterrent. Despite further warnings, the US never invaded.
Trump later threatened to attack Iran and then claimed he had planned a strike but called it off at the last minute. It sounded fishy because in the case of all US planned attacks, the US had warned of the impending attack beforehand. Why would they not warn Iran beforehand rather than claim there was a plan that was later called off? Keen observers linked this event with the fact that Russia had warned the US that if they attacked Iran, the results would be catastrophic.
It seemed pretty clear that the US’ failure to attack was because the US feared Russia. In fact, even after an attack was recently launched on Saudi Aramco that shut down an oil processing facility for an extended period, the US refrained from attacking Iran even though it blamed Iran for the attack. (The Yemeni Houthis claimed responsibility).
Ultimately, however, it is fine to think that none of the Russian achievements amount to anything. The more people keep their heads in the sand, the more unobstructed Russia will be in its actions. But be prepared for surprises.