The only way Mr. Putin can project power is with his navy and perhaps some permanent ports of call.
“Putin would like to do it because right now the navy is the only force that he has to demonstrate Russia is still a world power,” said Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and author of several books about the Russian navy.
“He can’t send the army anywhere. He can’t send his airplanes anywhere without over-flight rights, and people don’t like to let military planes fly over their countries.”
...the Russian navy “is in very poor shape because of finances.”
“It has very few ships that are operational. Very few submarines that are operational. Everything is behind schedule, all of their new construction. The country was for several years essentially bankrupt after the fall of the Soviet Union. The shipyards fell into disrepair. All of the services fell into disrepair,” Mr. Polmar added.
Mr. Russell said the problem is worsened by corruption. Money meant for the government is siphoned off by organized crime.
“The country’s balance sheet looks good right now because it has lots of oil and natural gas, but the profit from this bonanza is being looted by the organized crime-apparatchik kleptocracy that is ruling the country,” he said.
“Much of the money is just being stolen and not being invested in the people and the state. If it didn’t have nuclear weapons, why would anyone take Russia seriously today, except in a negative sense?” _WT
So much for Russia's ability to project conventional power around the globe.
As for China, much of its international clout is based upon its image as an economic juggernaut. But is such an image just a bit out-dated?
Industrial output growth is decelerating , and perhaps more quickly than the government data suggests. _WSJPay particular attention to the graphs in the WSJ piece above.
China's global power play will come to nought if its economic infrastructure collapses like many of its buildings, bridges, tunnels, towers, and other constructs.
Both China and Russia are struggling with out of control corruption at all levels of government -- and no one can guarantee that either nation's government will win their respective battle.
To top it off, although both nations would like to project an image of close cooperation and allied goals, in the long run the two countries are on a collision course. And it is likely that China will be the last man standing, of the two.