Most countries put up their “no solicitors” signs when they see the Russians coming around to buy military supplies. However, a handful of countries will at least open the door to hear the pitch and Egypt just so happens to be one of those countries.
To sell military equipment to the Russians, you have to be able to check a couple of boxes. First, you can’t be worried about the political blowback from partnering with a genocidal, war-hungry country. Second, you either have a lot of extra supplies or are not worried about entering a war yourself.
Countries like China, India, Algeria, and Vietnam might entertain the conversation, but at the end of the day cannot check off both boxes. This leaves the Russians to deal with Egypt and North Korea.
Once the Americans caught wind that the Egyptians were considering making a deal with Russia, a quick cost-benefit analysis shut that deal down. That only leaves North Korea on the table. And if you want to pull out a sliver of good news from all this – that likely means North Korea won’t be entering any wars anytime soon.
This limited market is somewhat illuminating to the Russian predicament. While this remains Russia’s war to lose, if they can’t spin-up their military-industrial complex any quicker, this could be the war that ends Russia as an expansionary power.
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Hey everybody. Peter Zeihan coming to you from Colorado. One of the things that’s been in the news for the last couple of days or a couple of weeks has been that the Russians have been going out around the world trying to find military equipment that they can purchase. And one of the countries that almost nearly sold them some was none other than Egypt, a country that at least nominally is a U.S. ally. And that’s kind of caught a few people off guard. But if you look at the sort of decision making that goes into providing a country that is in a genocidal war of aggression against someone else, you can see that it actually makes a certain degree of sense to go to the Egyptians.
There are certain boxes you have to check if you are willing to supply weapons to Russia in its current environment. First of all, you have to not overtly be concerned with the political blowback from the United States. And second, you have to not really need that equipment yourself. And there are precious few countries of size with, you know, military equipment worth talking about that can actually scratch the itch for that. The single most important one that falls into both categories is North Korea, because the North Koreans have, you know, a million man army, a quarter of the population can be drafted any moment. They have been doing nothing but building military equipment now for decades. And apparently the Russians have gotten a lot of artillery shells from the North Koreans. And honestly, that tells me everything I need to know about the military posture of North Korea, because if they were concerned at all about the United States or South Korea, Japan launching a conventional military attack on them, they wouldn’t even consider selling their armaments to the Russians. So honestly, that puts North Korea not in the peacenik bucket by any stretch of the imagination. But it tells me that all the nuclear blustering is really just that, blustering. If they were concerned about a war, they would not be disarming by selling their weapons to someone else.
Other countries that the Russians have turned to that have been turned, the Russians down flat, China, India, Algeria, Vietnam. Now these are all countries that to a degree are either strategically or ideologically favorable to the Russians, but they either don’t want to antagonize the United States. That is the situation for Vietnam. Who is looking to have a firmer relationship with Washington in order to fend off China. That is the case for China, who is desperate to avoid a direct confrontation. They like stirring the pot. They like making everybody think that something is about to happen. But they know that if there was a military conflict, that would be the end of China as a modern, industrialized economy in a matter of months. So they’re certainly not going to cross that Rubicon. Algeria, if they don’t deal with the United States, they have to deal with their former colonial master, the French. And that is something they’re desperate to avoid. So from them, strategically, it’s just completely off the table. But for India, it’s different. India is always concerned that it could have another war with Pakistan tomorrow, and so they are absolutely unwilling to provide any military assistance at scale, regardless of what it might do to relations with the United States, because they think they might need that equipment themselves.
And that brings us back to Egypt. Egypt, aside from North Korea, is the only country in the world who might be willing to kind of stick it to the United States, because the strategic situation in Egypt has been stable for so long. There hasn’t been a military conflict with the Israelis since the seventies, and we now have a peace treaty that’s 40 years old. The Egyptians know there is not going to be a conventional war between Israel and Egypt or Libya in Egypt or Sudan and Egypt. So they actually have the equipment to spare, but they still have a very large military and a lot of gear they could potentially give away.
So it obviously didn’t work out. The Americans heard about it and, you know, put a little bit of a cost benefit analysis in front of Cairo that the Egyptians, you know, made the same choice. But it does kind of underline just how alone the Russians are. They have North Korea and that’s it. And if they can’t get their military industrial complex spinning up at a faster rate than what we’ve seen so far, this is the sort of war that could get them stem to stern and really end Russia as an expansionary power. Now, we’re not there yet, but this is still Russia’s war to lose. But wow are they trying.
Alright. That’s it for me. See you guys next time.