The Russian government continues to see the free Internet as one of the main threats to its survival. There are three realistic scenarios of how it will see to control it in the future.
Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has begun 2016 by picking fights with Russia’s opposition. Although they see it as a sign of his political strength, the new row reveals his weakness: Kadyrov is anxious to get renewed political and economic support from the Kremlin for Chechnya’s “special status.”
A recent slight increase in Russia’s oil output is likely to be short-lived. Oil production may start to decline by the end of the year, falling almost twofold by 2035 due to a lack of financing for new field exploration and development.
The Russian system is in a crisis whose outcome is uncertain. But social protest is unlikely to deliver change. Change is more likely to come about through modernization from above.
The Russian authorities have been reluctant to admit that an attack in southern Dagestan on the eve of New Year was the work of Islamic State. The organization is making a bid to play a role in the North Caucasus.
Russians are tightening their belts and forgoing luxuries to cope with the new economic crisis. But they are conditioned to avoid protest. The government has little to fear, but the result is systemic poverty and economic stagnation.
The goal was to return to the club where the destiny of the world is being discussed, not as an ally (because given the current economic disparity, one could only be a subordinate ally) but as a “partner”—a word that is invariably spoken in Russia with phonetic quotation marks: a disobedient, sometimes blunt neighbor with whom considerations of the world order must be shared.
There is no reason to expect any serious changes in the Russian economy in 2016. The coming year is likely to see a behind-the-scenes struggle between two special interest groups: those who will profit if industries are nationalized, and those who will benefit from foreign investment.
Vladimir Putin has stopped being the charismatic champion of the people and become the champion of the elite. He has changed into Putin the Strategist, focused on geopolitics. Losing interest in the detail of domestic policy, he has become part of the oligarchic system he created.
Truck drivers have staged the biggest anti-government protest in Russia since 2012. But the logic of their discontent is one they are so far unprepared to accept: that the whole political system is at fault.
The Kremlin has embarked on an anti-Turkish campaign that does not differentiate between the government and ordinary people, the economy and cultural ties, or even the concepts of “Turkish” and “Turkic.” This approach risks alienating Moscow from its most loyal allies in Central Asia.
In the middle of a prolonged confrontation with the West, Russia cannot revive its Western-oriented or Eurasianist foreign policy concepts. In foreign relations, crisis-avoidance mechanisms must be the priority while Russia seeks a new strategic concept. That rethink must be underpinned by domestic reform; otherwise, the Russian state could share the fate of the Romanov regime in World War I.
Turkey is one of Russia’s strongest trade partners. Imposing economic sanctions on yet another country is likely to hurt Russia itself the most.
Montenegro’s veteran leader has maneuvered his country into NATO. Russia is upset, but unlikely to respond in a serious manner.
President Putin’s annual national addresses are short of ideas, but serve the purpose of sending signals to the Russian elite. This year, Putin underlined the idea of Russia as a nation under siege.
The strikes by Russian truckers are a new challenge for the Kremlin and represent a breach of the government’s social contract with its citizens. But the regime has learned how to deal with these protests and how to stop them from becoming politicized.
The double blow of falling oil prices and a decrease in remittances from Russia is making Azerbaijan economically fragile. Azerbaijan’s leaders have not prepared the country for future shocks.
The downing of a Russian plane by Turkey is jeopardizing the strong business and political relationship built by Ankara and Moscow. The two countries’ clash over Syria suggests that relations will get worse before they get better.
Kyiv seems to view the Crimea blockade as a pressure release valve - a way to allow agitated nationalists to blow off steam without sacrificing its own power. As such, the blockade is vastly preferable to some of the alternatives – namely allowing nationalists to vent their grievances in the Donbas, which would invite reprisals from Russia and the EU alike.
Ukrainian political activists have stepped up their campaign to isolate Crimea by sabotaging its electricity supply. Ordinary residents of Crimea are hostages of a hybrid political struggle between Ukraine and Russia.
You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.