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The country has 17 098 242 Km² of land. Their spot on earth is so massive that as the sun sets in one part, it is also rising in another. This expanse of land is very cold, and inspite of this there are 125 000 types of animals and 12 500 species of plants.

Articles by Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline

The first ‘modern state’ of Russia was founded back in the year 862 AD by King Rurik. The Kievan Rus states were unified in 879. The Russia of today was created under a federation in the year 1991. This means that the country is either 1160 years old, or in its early 30s.

Articles by Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline

In 2023, there are 144 million people made up of no less than 176 different ‘groups’ who call Russia home. The bloodlines include a mix of Ancient Greeks, Goths, Huns, Turkish, Vikings, Slavics and Mongols. Religions are varied between Islam, Judaism, Orthodox, Christianity, Neopagans and Buddhists. The earliest written record of the Russian language is on an amphora (type of container) found at Gnezdovo (a village) and dates back to the mid 10th century.

The Russian dialect spoken today has existed since the 18th century. You might find it interesting that historic documents can prove that the Ukrainian language and State appeared earlier than the Russian. Of course there will be some who can counter this point and say Russia is older, perhaps referencing the Slavs who appeared around 3500 years ago.

One could go even further and mention Homo Sapiens who started to plod around those parts of the planet 45 000 years ago.

If I really wanted to, I could argue Homo Sapiens left Africa 60 000 years ago and eventually made their way into Russia, therefore Russians (and indeed everyone else) are actually African. The conclusion of this type of debate will depend on how far down the timeline you want to go. Imagine if we said colonists where actually just coming back home?

The name Russia comes from an old area called ‘Rus’ which was populated by the East Slavs. I believe the name means ‘men who row’. Over the 10th and 11th century the Kievan Rus (also known as Kyivan Rus) became a powerful empire in Europe that reached its peak during the rule of Vladimir the Great and Yaroslav the Wise. During the 13th century the Mongols ruled by Batu Khan (founder of the Golden Horde) took over the area and cleared out the Kievan Rus.

In the 14th century Ivan III (Vasilyevich) tripled territory and ended the dominance of the Golden Horde (a State) over the Rus’. He also renovated the Moscow Kremlin. Later in the same century the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose to power, followed by the infamous Ivan IV, nicknamed Ivan the Terrible. Ivan the Terrible crowned himself (just like I appointed myself waterpolo captain in high school) to be the first Tsar of Russia in the year 1547. (Tsar is another word for Caesar). He strengthened the position of the monarch to an unprecedented level and was ruthless in his ambitions and known to exile or execute those who resisted his rule.

We jump ahead in time to the end of ‘the Time of Troubles’ in 1613, when there was chaos with the expulsion of the Poles (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) from Moscow, followed by the formation of a national assembly that composed of representatives of 50 cities. This assembly elected Michael Romanov to rule and he became the first Tsar of ‘all Russia’ from 1613 to 1645. He established the Romanov dynasty.

Recovery of some ‘lost’ territories began in the mid-17th century when the Khmelnytsky Uprising (Cossack–Polish War) took place between the years 1648–1654’ish. This particular drama happened in the Ukraine region, and once the dust settled the Treaty of Pereyaslav between Russia and the Ukrainian Cossacks was signed. The treaty was a political plan to save Ukraine from Polish domination.

Between the years 1689 and 1725 we had Peter the Great! He was the first Emperor (not Caesar) of all Russia. He expanded the empire further and moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, a city literally built on the bones of thousands of slaves. Peter was keen to see a Russia that included some Western benefits and technologies.

Articles by Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline

Later on (year 1762), Catherine the Great became reigning empress inspite of being a German princess. She was famous for using court intrigue (secret plans to harm or deceive people) to consolidate her power and usher in the era of the Russian Enlightenment, a time where government promoted arts and sciences. Catherine also greatly expanded Russian territory past Byelorussia, into Poland and Crimea.  Catherine’s grandson, Alexander I, became Emperor of Russia after his father was assassinated. Alexander stopped an invasion by Napoleon.

The Industrial Revolution in Russia started in the late 18th century and with it a modern economy and advanced labour force were established, increased production of industrial goods surged. This productive period of time continued in full force until 1917.

Crisis erupted because of WW1 which prevented raw materials from overseas getting into Russia. This caused a swift economic breakdown, compounded by mismanagement over Russia’s involvement in the World War, and frustrated further by a general disgruntlement with the autocratic system of government by its citizens, all sealed Russia’s fate for this era in their history.

The Russian Revolution started in 1917 and ended in 1923. This period of time had two successive revolts: one that abolished its monarchy and adopted a socialist form of government, and another one that involved a very bloody civil war.

The Industrial Revolution in Russia started in the late 18th century and with it a modern economy and advanced labour force were established, increased production of industrial goods surged. This productive period of time continued in full force until 1917.

In the year 1922, Soviet Russia, along with the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, and Transcaucasian SFSR all signed the Treaty on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union for short), officially merging four republics into one country. This new country based itself on the one-party dictatorship of the Communists. What followed next was a few decades referred to as the “era of stagnation”.

Mikhail Gorbachev (a Soviet and Russian politician who served as the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union embarked on major reforms which eventually resulted in the disbanding of the Soviet Union in 1991. To follow, was the Russian Federation and a new country of Russia being established. This new Russia, and the one we have today, invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine (a now sovereign state) in the year 2014. The Western World responded with economic sanctions. From this Russia experienced a financial crisis and the collapse of their currency (the Ruble).

Vladimir Putin has continuously served as President or Prime minister of Russia since 1999. In his time he has implemented foreign policy and liberal economic reforms. He introduced flat income tax of 13%, reduced profit tax and new land and civil codes. Putin has ruled with a firm hand on business and since he came into power, poverty in Russia has dropped to less than half of what it was, and the country’s real GDP grew. The Russian Constitution was amended in 2020 enabling Putin to legally stay in power until 2036. Russia is a truly fascinating country and has proud people. Their past is complex, and includes countless invasions (that go both ways), epidemics, riots, full out bloody wars, famines, executions, and even some massive fires. 

Articles by Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline

On the other side of the same coin there are remarkable achievements in architecture, literature as well as the arts like with Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky.

Russia has over 3000 museums, more than 2000 theatres, 5000 cinemas and a whopping 90 000 libraries. I would maintain the majority of South Africans knowledge of Russia does not expand much further than the detonation of the atomic bomb in 1949, or perhaps their involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Did you know Russia sold Alaska to the United States for 7.2 million in 1867 or that Russians invented the TV and Helicopter?

For me, Russia’s greatest technological accolade is as the winners of the Global Space Race, having the first satellite in space, (1957, called Sputnik) and the first person in space, (1961, named Yuri Gagarin).

Not too long ago, Russia had a GDP of 1.779 trillion USD with their main export partners being China, Netherlands, Germany, Türkiye and Belarus. Russia once had a debt ratio that was one of the lowest in the World, but the country has recently defaulted on part of its foreign currency denominated debt, the first default since 1918. Inspite of this, Russia’s economy is still within the top twenty of the world (around 11th place) and every continent has been a recipient of their abundant materials, products and exports, to name just a few: crude petroleum, wheat, fertilizer, cobalt, chrome, copper, gold, lead, manganese, nickel, platinum, tungsten and vanadium.

Through Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, they dominate the worldwide nuclear supply chain and are Europe’s 3rd largest supplier of uranium.

I detest when technology is used for destruction and it is alarming to learn when a country has around 5977 warheads. For context China only has 350, France 290 and the UK 225. Russia’s army has over 1 million active-duty personnel and 2 million in reserve, making their force the world’s 5th largest military force. The Russian navy has more than 290 warships, submarines and war boats and their air force has about 4100 crafts. South Africa in comparison only has 50 000 personnel, 4 frigates (warships), 3 submarines and 16 aircraft.

Russia’s or Vladimir Putin’s War in Ukraine is a war against the ‘West’. A war that evidently has repeated itself for hundreds of years. In 2023 the ‘West’ has continued to impose massive sanctions designed to weaken Russia’s economy, which is now shrinking.

To what point and true purpose do humans still need to War? Is it not time we chose a better way to avoid the loss of life (many innocents) and damage to property? There are better ways to obtain what we need for security, sustainability, power, resources and our future.

This article is not about war, but I do need to write about it because it is a major influence in the subject of this article: South Africas relationship with Russia, which I will explain in my 2nd part of this article to be absolutely and everything to do with War, Power, Money and Ego.

To read PART 2, click the utton below.

Who is Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline?

Jean-Pierre is a South African Serial Entrepreneur, Published Author and Change Champion who has worked in over 300 types of industries in some capacity or another. His own online businesses have generated millions of Rands and involved sectors including Law, Web & App Development, Events & Entertainment, Property, Technical Services, Media and Tourism.
He has travelled to over 50 cities World-Wide, and is extremely active as a Business and Environmental Technologist.
Jean-Pierre is often asked to be a Guest Speaker on any variety of the many subjects he continuously studies and writes about. 


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