How the West Can Destroy Russia

While I doubt the ruling elites in the West want to destroy Russia or have the stomach for the solution, in answering this hypothetical question I deduce a six-point strategy that could achieve the impossible.
Published by Dr Jiulin Teng on 04 Mar 2024
Keywords: podcastrussia
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Today, I want to touch on a hypothetical question, how the West can destroy Russia. Before I begin, two disclaimers: The most important point to note is that I am not convinced that the ruling elites in the West actually want to see Russia destroyed. It is too effective as a device for propaganda. A second point to note is that this is purely a theoretical discussion; even for those who do wish to destroy Russia, the following must be too unacceptable on ideological grounds to be carried out.
First, let’s address the meaning of destroying a country or a nation. Destroying a country can mean physical damage to a country’s infrastructure, usually through war; it can also mean economic, administrative, or social collapse, perhaps through hybrid warfare. In its ultimate form, it means causing the target country to disintegrate. Destroying a nation is more profound; it involves erasing the nation’s culture and identity. Of course, it could also mean erasing the nation’s history, but that is impossible in today’s world.
With modern nation states, it is also virtually impossible to destroy a nation without destroying its host country. However, with a longer time horizon, it may just be feasible.

Second, let’s talk about the time dimension. So far, the West has acted ostensibly to harm Russia economically and politically; whether it is the proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine or the mounting economic “sanctions packages”, these acts were invariably carried out for immediate effect. For example, Joe Biden was thrilled to see the ruble collapse into “rubble” after his first wave of sanctions. However, over time the effects of these policies are weak. The Russian military, economy, and political system remain strong.
These tactics are proven ineffective against Russia for four reasons:
  1. Russia is militarily strong, it cannot be defeated on the battlefield through a proxy war, and the cost of having the US military fight Russia directly is too high; besides, while the US military can soundly defeat the Russians in a defensive war, it cannot invade across an ocean and win.
  2. Russia has a complete industrial base and is self-sufficient in both industry and agriculture. While sanctions may cause some economic harm through lower exports, and the relative increase in supply over demand that ensues may cause deflationary pressure, sanctions cannot destroy Russia’s economy in the short term. Indeed, because Russia has been forced to fight a war of attrition, its ramped-up military production and expenditure have consumed much of the over-supply and added inflationary pressure. The overall effect is a stable economy, despite sanctions and prolonged military operations.
  3. While Russia’s political system is not strong, its current leader is exceptionally strong. This is part of the reason why many who wish to have Russia destroyed first wish to have Putin gone.
  4. Russia’s national identity has been strengthened by the antagonism that Russian are suddenly exposed to in the West, again with the opposite effect of destroying Russia.

Third, let’s talk about briefly the time when Russia was almost or mostly destroyed. Specifically, what were the policies that led to the 1990s?
I reckon that the reason Russia was in its state in the 1990s, just like every other former republic of the Soviet Union was destroyed, and by the way some, like Ukraine, never recovered, is because the USSR was thoroughly destroyed. It was destroyed in all but military terms, and as its economy stagnated and fell apart, its administration lost all credibility and collapsed, and its culture and history vehemently loathed, the country and the nation soon vanished. The pieces that emerged from the rubble inherited these traits: Russia continued the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, the country was in varying degrees of anarchy, and the Russians were self-loathing.
What led to this state was not some “shock-n-awe” type of strike, economic or military. Rather, it was a decades-long hybrid effort that, with the help of the Soviet leaders, convinced the Soviet citizens that they deserved better.

Finally, with the above as the background, I propose a simple six-point solution that the West can implement to destroy Russia:
  1. Fully open technology and high-tech product exports with the aim of weakening Russia’s R&D capabilities in the long term.
  2. Welcome Russian immigration and cultural assimilation into Western societies. Russia is a big country geographically, but it has a moderate population size. By drawing a portion of the most productive part of the Russian population, the West achieve two things: First, it reduces the population of Russia. More important, it creates a tighter cultural linkage between Russians and the West, and the West has a stronger cultural identity that many Russians are already pre-disposed to identify with.
  3. Sign wide-ranging trade deals with Russia. As currently configured, the Russian economy and the economy of the West can be complementary. The difference is that with free trade, the Russians will be supplying cheaper raw materials while seeing their own factories shut down.
  4. Pull back militarily from the Russian border, thereby convincing the Russians that the West want to be friends with them.
  5. Continue to promote socially progressive values, especially on gender and reproductive issues, with the goal of reducing the Russian population further. While prior efforts on this front have been unsuccessful, it is possible that those failures were caused by the confrontational stance that the “activists” adopted. With a more nuanced approach, some success may result.
  6. Last but certainly not least, be patient and wait for Putin to retire.
A few years ago, this list would be longer, but some options have since been taken off the table. Two self-evident points that should not be in any strategy mix, because doing the opposite is certifiably insane, include a. letting the Russians use the dollar as much as possible and b. accelerating cultural export to Russia. Alas, either some people really wish Russia to prosper, or they are really, truly insane.
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While I doubt the ruling elites in the West want to destroy Russia or have the stomach for the solution, in answering this hypothetical question I deduce a six-point strategy that could achieve the impossible.