Scant Foreign Policy Choices for a Troubled and Divided Russia

07 Jul 2020

(EDM) For months, and particularly during the end of June and start of July, Russian politics was centered on ensuring the desired result in the vote on the set of amendments to the constitution. By resorting to crude manipulations and fraud, President Vladimir Putin secured his “triumph” and can now claim yet another (his fifth) presidential term in the elections scheduled for 2024 (see EDM, July 2). His rule, however, much like the blatantly falsified vote, is shaped by gross distortions of facts and figures (Novaya Gazeta, July 2). The official data on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic—which shows a gradual decline from 11,000 new infections a day in the first half of May to 6,500 cases presently, with very low mortality—entirely fails to reflect the real scope of the disaster (Meduza.io, July 1). Economic indicators are also carefully doctored: even as real incomes and household consumption keep contracting, government forecasts continue to predict a fast recovery (Rosbalt, June 30). Putin cannot order the recession to stop, but he also does not want to lead the struggle against the coronavirus; therefore, he has turned to the area where he used to thrive—foreign policy. [...]

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