Collapse of Russia will prove major test for US – Stratfor

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American think-tank Stratfor has issued a new 'Decade Forecast,' which says the EU will decay, China will end up in "a communist dictatorship," and Russia will disintegrate...though it hasn't done so yet, despite such predictions taking place in the past.

“It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form,” the forecast’s chapter dedicated to Russia begins. The research maintains that Moscow’s “failure to transform energy revenues into self-sustaining economy” will eventually lead to a “repeat of the Soviet Union's experience in the 1980s and Russia's in the 1990s,” with the process accompanied by a demographic decline that is set to “really hit” Russia.

However, the forecaster's founder and CEO, George Friedman, recently said that Russia has the ability to emerge from US-led sanctions and the recent drop in the ruble due to falling oil prices. "Russians' strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations," Friedman said, suggesting that the country "has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe."

According to the forecast, Russia’s territorial losses will not be limited to the European part of the country. Its control over the North Caucasus is also predicted to “evaporate,” while maritime regions in Russia’s Far East will “move independently” to the countries they are “closely linked to” – namely China, Japan, and the US. Additionally, Karelia will “seek to rejoin” Finland. The US think-tank, sometimes referred to as a “shadow CIA” due to its employment of former CIA analysts, also warns that this time Russia's alleged tendency of solving problems with "secret police" won't work, and the Federal Security Service will be unable to rescue the country.

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The collapse of Russia “will be a major test for the United States,” the research warns, concluding that “Washington is the only power able to address the issue.” However, the research leaves room for possible incidents and some nuclear missiles being “fired in the process.”

Whatever it will take to seize control of Russia’s nuclear forces, inventing a military solution to the problem or imposing a “stable and economically viable government,” this issue will have to be addressed, the research claims, “likely in the next decade.”

'EU has fragmented, will decay'

According to the report, it's not only Russia that will fall to pieces. Stratfor’s researchers believe that “inter-European relations will be increasingly unpredictable and unstable” due to major political tendency of moving “away from multinational solutions to a greater nationalism.”

“No single policy can suit all of Europe,” Stratfor says, explaining that Europe has already fragmented into at least two parts. “What benefits one part of Europe, harms another.” The European Union "might survive in some sense," but its members relations will be "not binding" and "governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships.”

'China will end up in dictatorship'

Just like Japan and the “Asian tigers” Taiwan and South Korea, China “has completed its cycle as a high-growth, low-wage country and has entered a new phase,” Stratfor says. This phase will be characterized by an “expansions climax,” or slowdown.

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China is following a “hybrid path” of its own by centralizing political and economic powers, ensuring the Communist Party’s control over the military, and consolidating the nation’s fragmented industries. According to Stratfor, this will result in the construction of a communist dictatorship.

Elsewhere, there will be further defragmentation and conflicts spreading through the Middle East and North Africa.

The latest “Decade Forecast” is the fifth published by Stratfor in the last two decades, following reports in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2010.

'World will remain a dangerous place'

The geopolitical intelligence firm provides strategic analysis and forecasting to individuals and organizations around the world. Publishing their 'Decade Forecast' every five years, Stratfor has repeatedly tried to predict various paths that international governments and political leaders may take. Although the company claims its forecasts are "about predicting the unexpected," quite often they tend to depict its vision of the world's future in broad terms.

"As in the period prior to World War I, prosperity and instability will go hand in hand," Stratfor said in its forecast for 1995-2005. Having predicted that the decade would be "a period of increasing disharmony both between nations and within nations," with China expected to suffer "growing instability, including the strong possibility of fragmentation and civil war," it has only been the US that has been envisioned by the think-tank as "the world's only superpower - the only power able to project its forces globally."

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In the 2005-2015 report, the US was predicted to militarily "maintain control of the seas as well as of space, ensuring strategic global domination." At the same time, Stratfor expected its country to "disengage from Iraq – and also from the rest of the Islamic world." However, Stratfor has said the previous report "suffered a deep flaw when failed to forecast the US-jihadist war and, in fact, miscalculated on the Middle East as a whole."

Regarding Russia, already in the 2005 published report it "has been collapsing slowly but surely."

"The elite holding on to Russia's capital and center while the rest of the country crumbles," was expected to "result in the delegitimization of the Russian state and hence disintegration,” it said. "An attempt by Washington to replace Putin with a more accommodating Russian president" should have happened by 2015, according to Stratfor.

"The turning point could come soon, or it could be years away," the previous forecast said.

Sources and methods used by the company have received criticism over the years, especially after the now jailed hacker Jeremy Hammond broke into the Stratfor network as part of the hacktivist collective Anonymous and handed over obtained documents to WikiLeaks for publication. Hammond has admitted in court that he had collected millions of sensitive inner-office emails among other items from the Texas-based company’s computers.

The Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and its partners reveal that the intelligence firm's employees have had close – and potentially illegal – connections with the US government and law enforcement officials. The leaked documents also suggest that Stratfor has been occasionally hired by multi-national corporations to target their opponents.

READ MORE:'I hacked into govt to expose truth': Jeremy Hammond confesses from jail

Within numerous correspondence collected by Hammond and his colleagues was also an email from Stratfor vice president Fred Burton, a former government official with strong ties to law enforcement. In the email, he insisted that an indictment against Julian Assange had already been finalized. Accusations that the firm investigated peaceful protestors within the Occupy Wall Street movement, along with members of the non-violent civil disobedience movement US Day of Rage and many others were among other emails.

When Hammond "easily" gained access to the Stratfor system, he was astonished to find that the company’s credit card data had not been encrypted, with the fact later becoming one of the major embarrassments for the intelligence firm. Hammond is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence – one of the longest terms ever handed down to a US hacker.