Russia: Four Things to Watch in 2018

  • Rusia
  • 0
  • 22 December 2017

1. Putin’s Probable Re-election

The 2018 presidential election is not so much about who will win, but who will later succeed Putin. According to the Russian constitution, Putin has one six-year term remaining. By the end of this term (2024), he will be in his 70s.

There appears no obvious successor emerging in the background. However, Putin himself was never expected to succeed Boris Yeltsin. This has led many commentators to suspect that someone relatively unknown, loyal and stable will emerge unexpectedly. Another reason for this is the unpopularity of those who are already in positions of power and close to the president.

One name that has been floated around is the former Duma speaker, Sergei Naryshkin. A man, who, you guessed it, is practically unknown, cautious and was recently appointed to head the foreign intelligence service. He also served in the KGB in the 1970s. He is someone the Russians would like as he fits the mold of ‘effective manager’.

Either way, this might be of little consequence. The most important task for the next president is whether they can maintain social stability. The last 100 years of Russian history shows that the situation can unravel overnight. This is something everybody in Russia is fearful of and hopes to avoid.

2. The Football World Cup

I am quite the optimist here. England should qualify top of their group and Russia might squeeze through in second place. Something I am more optimistic about is the opportunity Russia has to show itself off.

Despite what many of you have read and heard on the news, Russia is full of many wonderful things. The games are being hosted in eleven great cities, each quite different from the next. This gives Russia the opportunity to show the world it is more than a negative news headline.

Russia can use the games to show off its long history, rich culture and diverse peoples. Especially since nobody expects Russia to be walking away as the winners. In fact, they are one of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament.

In the long-run, the games will hopefully generate more interest and bring in more tourists with money to spend.

However, football hooligans are a special breed in Russia and the authorities have responded to this. Security will be heightened and known groups and individualshave been banned from the games.

3. The Economy

This performed better than expected in 2017 despite additional sanctions. The ruble is performing better and has remained relatively stable, but the business climate for 2018 is quite uncertain.

Firstly, a new round of sanctions could be placed on Russia. The ‘Russia investigation’ being conducted by Congress will conclude at some point, and the outcome is eagerly awaited. While the Kremlin has dismissed all claims of collusion, the US and UK cites evidence of attempts to interfere with recent elections. Both have promised to respond accordingly.

Elsewhere, poverty has risen and local budgets are under immense pressure. In fact, most regions have been running fiscal deficits for the last three years. If the economy performs better than expected again, it would be ideal if additional funds went to the poorest regions. If people’s incomes continue to stagnate in 2018, this runs the risk of social unrest.

4. Ukraine, Syria and North Korea

When it comes to Ukraine and Syria, Russia cannot afford to come away looking as though it lost or conceded anything.

Ukraine’s situation has not improved even by the most optimistic of estimations. There is simply no cease-fire in the East and the government is a shambles. The West has no coherent strategy, and pro-Russian feelings are rising as Petro Poroshenko’s approval ratings decline. The question now is whether to rock the boat or let it unfold organically.

In Syria, Russia and the US will have to find a solution that likely involves Mr. Assad remaining in power, if only temporarily. In addition, some of Russia’s Muslims who left to join ISIS will be returning. The threat of terrorism could spike in a year when the world’s eyes are already on Russia. Its response will have to be methodical.

Russia’s relationship with North Korea is like the friend nobody else wants you to hang outwith. Moreover, when people want to talk about this friend’s problems, you would really rather not.

Russia will not work against China or pressure it into ‘doing something’, as Mr. Trump would say. However, neither can a solution arise without the cooperation of Russia. Should the situation get progressively worse, Russia will be forced to have a discussion it has long tried to avoid.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
29 × 26 =

Strategic Communication in EU-Russia Relations: Tensions, Challenges and Opportunities

  • 0
  • 23 April 2018

Few days ago it appeared a book about Russian - European union relations, edited in Moscow by professor Evgeny Pashetsev and Erik Vlaeminck.

The title of this book is : "Strategic Communication in EU-Russia Relations: Tensions, Challenges and Opportunities", published on Moscow by The International Center for Socio-Political Studies and Consulting (ICSPSC), with the academic support of the Institute of Contemporary Internationa

citește mai mult

This isn’t 1980 and Theresa May isn’t Jimmy Carter

  • 0
  • 27 March 2018

I expected to see articles popping up comparing the British Prime Minister to Jimmy Carter on the eve of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

On the face of it, the soil was fertile for a comparative piece: a partial boycott of a global sporting event, which will show case Russia to the world and a time where relations between Russia and the West are and were at low points; not to mention that both are considered weak leaders playing bad

citește mai mult

The Big Issue On The Campaign Trail

  • 0
  • 21 February 2018

As a Russian historian, I could not help but notice the not so subtly obvious. Every night on Rossiya 1 and Perviy Kanal, the candidates have been talking about Russian history like it is going out of fashion.

They and the Russian public are well aware of the urgent issues. Indeed, I could use up my words listing them. Yet, conduct a simple Google or Yandex search and the candidates are all s

citește mai mult

Azebaijan, cheia geostrategică a Asiei Centrale

  • 0
  • 13 February 2018

După destrămarea URSS, Azerbaijanul a fost statul ex-sovietic care alături de    republicile Baltice a avut o dezvoltare constantă și durabilă. Desigur, aici pot fi adresate unele critici regimului de la Baku cu privire la democrație, care în opinia multor analiști este doar mimată la Baku. Însă faptul adevărat este că acest stat a reușit să își gestioneze eficient resursele de care dispune pentru a deveni o societate prosperă. I se atribuie Azerbaijanului etichet

citește mai mult

What Can Democrats Learn From Alabama’s Doug Jones?

  • 0
  • 30 November 2017

In ordinary circumstances, Doug Jones would already be preparing to move to Washington DC. The former prosecutor famous for convicting KKK members for a church bombing is up against gay bashing, God and gun lovin’, twice kicked out of elected office, Judge Roy Moore. A man who has eight accusers of sexual assault, all of whom were underage at the time of the allegations.

Yet, if one looks at all the recent polls, they show a ti

citește mai mult

Azerbaidjanul, petrolul și românii

  • 0
  • 7 October 2016

Întotdeauna, statele sunt nevoite să își apere poziția pe marea tablă a geopoliticii, uitându-se cu grijă la vecini, dar și la puterile regionale. Această regulă presupune nu doar poziția ofensivă, ci și valorificare atuurilor, astfel încât să devină piese care contează pe „câmpul de analiză”, iar nu elemente neglijabile, care sunt măturate dintr-o dată de cei ce au suficientă putere să mânuiască piesele.

Caucazul, ca regiune geopolitică, nu face nici ea excepție

citește mai mult

Alterglobalismul. Fațeta „lumii islamice”

  • 0
  • 16 February 2018

În ultimele decenii ale secolului XXI o parte dintre politologi s-au aplecat asupra fenomenului  „alterglobalismului”, prin care au evaluat „lumea islamică” și „lumea rusă”. Subiectul rămâne deschis și astăzi, ori acesta impune o abordare riguroasă atunci când ne focalizăm pe fenomen ab integrum  și, în același timp, cere o raționalizare a parametrilor și contextului în care se exprimă fenomenul. Nu este un concept alambicat și nici propagandistic, dispun

citește mai mult

Coreea: calcule și efecte

  • 1
  • 17 September 2017

Pe 9 martie 2017 scriam despre criza din peninsula Coreea câteva opinii , iar ultimul paragraf era acesta: „Contextul personal al liderului nord-coreean face să fie astăzi mai probabilă o criză acută aici, d

citește mai mult

The Left’s Elusive Message: Old hats are still old, the Anglo-American case (part II)

  • 0
  • 12 September 2017

The phrase ‘old hat’, as one would expect, means something that is tediously familiar or outdated. Yet, walking through Shoreditch or Brooklyn, old hats seem stylish. What the owners of such hats probably aren’t willing to admit is that they paid around five times what the original owner did. This could be a metaphor for the political climate in the US and UK today.

Last week I wrote about who the left in British and American p

citește mai mult