Alexei Navalny may be jailed but Putin is the one under siege. 2020 had seemed to go the Russian president’s way in reinforcing his status as the irreplaceable ‘National Leader’, resolving the succession dilemma by ruling it out until 2030 or even 2036, and changing the system of government into one of autocratic hegemony, meaning increased powers of repression and tighter limits on the rights and freedoms of Russia’s citizens.
Appointing new and dependent figures to both regional and federal positions within a redesigned system of government, and swiftly passing laws through an automatically compliant Duma to ensure the obedience of his subjects seemed to complete the structure of a new Russia subject to what might well be described as a dictatorship.… Seguir leyendo »
The prevailing assumption outside Russia is that an ordered and stable succession is in prospect when Vladimir Putin leaves the presidency in May 2024, with his replacement being a person of the same stamp. This is however questionable.
Those close to the Kremlin are aging, like Putin. None of them has a glimmer of independent authority within the ruling cabal, not even Igor Sechin, for all his personal ties to Putin and his links to Russia’s security services. None enjoy significant public trust.
Putin’s power would wane once a potential successor (almost certainly a man) began to acquire an aura of presidential favour, however provisionally.… Seguir leyendo »
The unknown of what happens when Vladimir Putin’s second term as president ends by 2024 weighs on the public mind. That alone attracts attention to domestic questions rather than international issues. The succession to Putin, whenever it is to happen, is not just about who it might be but also what that person or persons might or ought to do to direct Russia’s future.
There are no signs that Russia’s present and narrowing circle of decision-makers are ready to revisit the questions of structural economic, and therefore political, reform that are needed for the country to flourish. The repression that underpins Putin’s rule continues to grow.… Seguir leyendo »
The G7 meeting in Quebec last month must have delighted Vladimir Putin for its bad tempered display of ill feeling between President Donald Trump and his Western colleagues. Trump’s apparently unscripted suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the group, because there is a world to be run, was no doubt a welcome sign for Putin of Trump’s mood in the run-up to the NATO summit on 11-12 July, the US president’s visit to the UK after it, and finally their bilateral meeting in Helsinki on 16 July.
The overall bedrock and purpose of Trump’s policies towards Russia are not clear.… Seguir leyendo »
Donald Trump believes his personal relations with Vladimir Putin are an asset to be used in a fresh approach towards Russia, and it is in the Kremlin’s interest to feed the idea that if only the Americans would ‘engage’ then deals could be done. Good relations are not, however, a policy in themselves but something realized over time as cooperation over different issues grows. The question therefore is not whether the US should talk to the Russian authorities, which it already does, often crossly, but what can realistically be expected from Moscow’s response?
Washington has yet to develop a coherent set of policies or objectives towards Moscow, or to establish clearly who might be responsible for that task.… Seguir leyendo »
The murder of Andrey Karlov at an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, is a tragedy.
As yet, we know very little about the motives of his killer, Mevlut Mert Altintas. Chances are, we never will.
But it is at least as possible that he acted as an individual in response to Russian actions in Aleppo as that he killed on the instructions of a wider group.
Both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin may nevertheless be inclined to structure the assassination into their existing narratives, different though these may be.
The idea of a wider conspiracy, going beyond the actions of a lone gunman, whose ability to get himself, armed, to stand right behind the Russian ambassador in order to shoot him needs explanation, is inherently more convincing to many minds than the proposition that he acted alone.… Seguir leyendo »
The Kremlin account of Russia’s national interests is poisoned by assumptions formed in a world which passed away with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. For instance, President Vladimir Putin praised the post-Second World War Yalta settlement in his address to the UN General Assembly on 28 September 2015 for providing decades of stability. That implausible claim was repeated and elaborated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in his essay on the historical background of Russian foreign policies published in the March edition of Russia in Global Affairs, a journal sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.… Seguir leyendo »