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Mother Russia Looks For Someone To Blame


Will the global economic crisis bring about another Cold War?


Russia's economy is deteriorating at a very fast pace. The Stabilization Fund of the Russian Federation -- a giant $450 billion savings account -- has been depleted by a quarter since September as Russia has tried to defend its currency. But in spite of these attempts, the ruble still declined.

Russian companies are facing $170 billion in debt rollover next year. Since the rest of the world isn't willing to finance companies in a stable political regime, getting financing for Russian companies will present a problem. President Dmitry Medvedev and his boss, Vladimir Putin, will have to spend another quarter of the reserve to fund Russian corporations.

According to the Financial Times, the Russian economy is staring into a deep abyss and its citizenry and leadership should wake up to the realization that it was oil and natural gas that were responsible for the (temporary) resurrection of Mother Russia, not Mr. Putin. In fact, some are already whispering for his resignation.

These whispers will magnify as things get worse. But what concerns me is the inevitable response. I visited Russia in September for the first time since I left in 1991, and even though at the time the country was prospering (the economic crisis was still weeks away), I felt this broad anti-American attitude.

Now that things are getting worse by the minute, Putin will likely attempt to shift the blame to -- you guessed it -- the US. America will be made a scapegoat for the global crisis, for manipulating oil markets and for anything else that goes wrong in Russia.

The relationship between the countries is liable to get a lot worse.

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