Ramzan Kadyrov is setting himself up to be an alternative to Putin, an improved version of the original. But the original rarely forgives the man who dares to copy him.
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.
The political rupture between Russia and Turkey is unlikely to heal as long as Putin and Erdogan are in power. The conflict between the two countries may not have killed the resurgent diplomatic push to end the Syrian crisis, but it has definitely complicated it.
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.
Vladimir Putin takes advice from three distinct groups of foreign policy ideologists who can be labeled warriors, merchants, and pious believers. Each of them serves a role, but they have very different views of how Russia should develop.
The Assad regime is Russia’s main stake which allows the Russians to influence the situation in Syria and demonstrate their importance in the international arena by positioning Moscow as one of those players without whom the crisis cannot be solved.
Shoring up the Assad regime and killing jihadi fighters are not the only objectives that Russia is pursuing in Syria. Moscow’s intervention is as much about Washington as it is about the Islamic State.
Moscow is likely to come to grips with the idea that a political solution for the Syrian conflict would include a post-Assad Syria. But the real question may be whether outside players can join diplomatic forces with Moscow to finally end the crisis.
Putin is laying claim to the legacy of the 1945 Yalta conference. But Russia's attempts to rewrite history to justify its current policies are not working.
Russia’s involvement in Syria helps Vladimir Putin distract Russians from their country’s economic woes. However, Russian power seems to lack any long-term vision.