The role Russia plays in our world is a big topic for those of us who try to get a glimpse of that fascinating world we call the future. And, The Bible sees Russia as the key player in a prophecy that speaks of the coming of a nation (or person) called Gog. I don’t want to get caught up in the details of WHY we think that Gog and Magog are Russia. That’s a discussion for another time, but I can tell you that I’ve never met anyone who DOESN’T believe that Russia is Gog (or at least Magog)
If you remain unconvinced, let me know, and I’ll lay it out.
But if I were to choose one reason why I thought that Russia was/will be Gog or Magog, it’s because Russia is the only country north of Israel with the capacity, and the bloody-minded willingness to use that capacity. The alternative, I guess, would be Turkey…
Nah, it’s gotta be Russia.
But, people trying to understand Russia’s place within the Gog and Magog coalition have a hard time understanding Russia’s motivation for creating such a coalition. Why would a country like Russia want to expend that much effort to take out a tiny country the size of New Jersey?
That confusion only deepened when the USSR fell apart. When the USSR fell apart, it also took out our ability to see Russia as Gog.
Well, for those of us with our panties in a bunch, there’s good news. They’re back. Russia is rapidly moving to build a new and improved version of the USSR – Soviet Union, 2.0.
However, a difficult question still remains. Why would Russia involve itself in something like this? What could Russia possibly gain from building a gigantic army that comes down to destroy a puny little country like Israel?
Nothing. At least, nothing that I can think of, right now.
Something needs to change. Maybe something needs to change in Israel to make this massive invasion a worthwhile investment. Maybe something needs to change in the region BETWEEN Israel and Russia. Maybe something needs to change WITHIN Russia. Or, all of that needs to change.
For those of us in the “there’s going to be a change in Israel” camp, we did see some evidence of that when Israel discovered natural gas under the Mediterranean Sea, within Israel’s zone of control. Those gas fields are massive, and their richness has earned my favorite country some dirty looks. Could this find turn out to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of even MORE discoveries that eventually convince Russia to convert dirty looks into dirty action?
But, that’s the future. Let’s step back and look at what’s going on in Russia now.
Early this month, I received a fascinating report from the open source intelligence (OSINT) outfit StratFor. It was titled Russia: Rebuilding an Empire While It Can by Lauren Goodrich, and it really is one of the best pieces of analysis on Russia that I have ever seen. Let me take you through parts of that report and help you understand the implications.
The third paragraph in the report is illuminating:
Russia’s ultimate plan is to re-establish control over much of its former territories. This inevitably will lead Moscow and Washington back into a confrontation, negating any so-called reset, as Russian power throughout Eurasia is a direct threat to the U.S. ability to maintain its global influence. This is how Russia has acted throughout history in order to survive. The Soviet Union did not act differently from most of the Russian empires before it, and Russia today is following the same behavioral pattern.
This is a bit of profound knowledge that I’ve been trying to get people to understand for a long, long time.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union wasn’t a threat because they were communist. Communism really had little to do with it. No, the Soviet Union was a threat because they were Russian.
Let me take you through the next paragraph of the report to show you what I mean.
Russia’s defining geographic characteristic is its indefensibility, which means its main strategy is to secure itself. Unlike most powerful countries, Russia’s core region, Muscovy, has no barriers to protect it and thus has been invaded several times. Because of this, throughout history Russia has expanded its geographic barriers in order to establish a redoubt and create strategic depth between the Russian core and the myriad enemies surrounding it. This means expanding to the natural barriers of the Carpathian Mountains (across Ukraine and Moldova), the Caucasus Mountains (particularly to the Lesser Caucasus, past Georgia and into Armenia) and the Tian Shan on the far side of Central Asia. The one geographic hole is the North European Plain, where Russia historically has claimed as much territory as possible (such as the Baltics, Belarus, Poland and even parts of Germany). In short, for Russia to be secure it must create some kind of empire.
That paragraph is THE defining cultural element driving Russia. If I had to summarize Russia’s consuming motivation in one word, it would be: fear. Russia is afraid, and it has good reason to be, since it has a long history of being invaded by EVERYONE. Russia is vulnerable, and it cannot afford to be.
In the hierarchy of values, security trumps everything.
Enter Vladimir Putin, a nationalist and a Russian patriot. He knows Russia’s history and her current vulnerability. And…
Putin had just seen the United States encroach on the territory Russia deemed imperative to its survival: Washington helped usher most Central European states and the former Soviet Baltic states into NATO and the European Union; supported pro-Western “color revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; set up military bases in Central Asia; and announced plans to place ballistic missile defense installations in Central Europe. To Russia, it seemed the United States was devouring its periphery to ensure that Moscow would forever remain vulnerable.
America’s success has made Russia nervous, and anyone who is a product of the Cold War – especially, the KGB – will be exceptionally nervous. Vladimir Putin is a patriot, as so many in the KGB were, and the steps he is taking is for Russia, and the Russian people.
Putin has announced the establishment of the Eurasia Union , or EuU, to include those ex-Soviet states that have not joined the EU and/or NATO. There are already nascent EuU institutions in place, such as the Customs Union, Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Oh, and that CSTO. Remember when I mentioned it here? Remember when I said that Iran had ‘observer status’ at the CSTO and was planning to eventually become a full member? Yeah, THAT CSTO.
The author of the StratFor article also includes the following observation:
The forthcoming EuU is not a re-creation of the Soviet Union. Putin understands the inherent vulnerabilities Russia would face in bearing the economic and strategic burden of taking care of so many people across nearly 9 million square miles. This was one of the Soviet Union’s greatest weaknesses: trying to control so much directly. Instead, Putin is creating a union in which Moscow would influence foreign policy and security but would not be responsible for most of the inner workings of each country. Russia simply does not have the means to support such an intensive strategy. Moscow does not feel the need to sort through Kyrgyz political theater or support Ukraine’s economy to control those countries.
I agree. Russia just can’t be the USSR anymore, and Putin is enough of a pragmatist to see that. This also dovetails with the point that the bible makes about Gog and Magog:
1 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.
7 “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. 8 After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.9 You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”
Read the rest of Ezekiel 38, here.
Gog here, appears to be a facilitator, more than just a participant. It’s main role appears to be leadership, which leads me to this next bit of the article, which is very, very intriguing, and illustrates my point about how CLOSE we are to the events described in Ezekiel and Revelation:
The Kremlin intends to have the EuU fully formed by 2015, when Russia believes the United States will return its focus to Eurasia. Washington is wrapping up its commitments to Iraq this year and intends to end combat operations and greatly reduce forces in Afghanistan, so by 2015, the United States will have military and diplomatic attention to spare. This is also the same time period in which the U.S. ballistic missile defense installations in Central Europe will break ground. To Russia, this amounts to a U.S. and pro-U.S. front in Central Europe forming on the former Soviet (and future EuU) borders.
Again, the fear factor. Russia wants to get its act together before the US does. Russia fears being vulnerable, and it is making sure that the EuU happens in time to block US hegemony.
But, there’s more, and this bit is important. A much larger, more ominous clock is ticking, and this is the last chance that Russia has to prepare any kind of a secure future.
Putin’s other reason for re-establishing some kind of Russian empire is that he knows the next crisis to affect Russia most likely will keep the country from ever resurging again: Russia is dying. The country’s demographics are among some of the world’s worst, having declined steadily since World War I. Its birth rates are well below death rates, and it already has more citizens in their 50s than in their teens. Russia could be a major power without a solid economy, but no country can be a global power without people. This is why Putin is attempting to strengthen and secure Russia now, before demographics weaken it. However, even taking its demographics into account, Russia will be able to sustain its current growth in power for at least another generation. This means that the next few years likely are Russia’s last great moment — one that will be marked by the country’s return as a regional empire and a new confrontation with its previous adversary, the United States.
Since we’ve mentioned Putin here, let me end with a thought.
When Ezekiel refers to Gog, it seems almost like God is referring to a person, a person God calls ‘Gog’. If that’s true… If Gog is a person, then I believe that this person probably is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
But, whatever (or whoever) Gog is, please keep an eye on the clock. It’s only a couple minutes to Midnight.
Russia: Rebuilding an Empire While It Can is quoted with permission of STRATFOR.