(Bloomberg) Is President Vladimir Putin strong or weak? Is Russia a paper tiger or can it roar? This is suddenly a hot topic among Russia experts. It's fun to follow, but it's also depressing, because it shows how successful the Russian leader has been in achieving his self-serving goals.
Brandon Valeriano of the University of Glasgow and Ryan Maness of Northeastern University started the debate in Foreign Affairs magazine on April 30. Claiming that "Putin is not as strong as he might seem or, more important, as he might hope," they argued that Russia had achieved nothing of value by interfering in Ukraine, selling arms to Iran, using energy exports to pressure eastern European countries or waging cyber warfare against its global rivals. […]
Pavel Baev of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo weighed in: Russia's economy, he wrote, is breaking "through one false bottom after another," and its military strength is waning.
"Putin knows uncomfortable truths about the Kremlin, rife with petty quarrels and ill-begotten fortunes, and knows there are limits to its trustworthiness," Baev posited."His supreme authority is, therefore, far more vulnerable than it appears."
In Baev's view, Putin is merely trying to use what remains of his military advantage to maintain his grip on power. Although he disagreed with Aleksashenko on Russia's relative strength, he concurred with his recommendation that the West be more forceful in dealing with Putin.
Read More © Bloomberg