While political modernization remains unrealized under President Medvedev, as the Russian situation becomes increasingly complex, the Kremlin will likely be forced to embrace modernization as the only path to political survival.
President Medvedev used his visit to the contested Kuril Islands to pursue his domestic political objectives, at the cost of undermining Russia’s strategic goal to turn Japan into a key partner in the East.
A number of major domestic challenges, including violence in the Caucasus, anger over this summer’s wildfires, and the need for significant police reform, face the Russian government as the country moves towards the 2012 presidential elections.
Recent developments in Russia's foreign policy reflect the country's struggle to preserve its status as a “great power” through modernization.
Current economic, social and political conditions are more likely to push Russian voters toward opposition candidates than United Russia’s candidates, with potentially significant ramifications for the ruling party.