(Foreign Policy) When it comes to Russia’s political future, the only guarantee is uncertainty. Yes, on Sunday Vladimir Putin will be elected president of Russia for a six-year term, with a comfortable majority of the vote. Yes, too, huge numbers of demonstrators, probably more than a hundred thousand, will take to the streets the next day to protest. What will happen after that, however, is difficult to predict. Beyond asserting Russia’s destiny to be an independent and truly sovereign major power, Putin lacks a real strategy and prefers to repeat long-held complaints about the United States.
Putin has been knocked off balance by the emergence of a large, mainly urban-based opposition demanding political reforms. But there is also reason to suspect that he will make changes in his foreign policy. True, when his return to the Russian presidency was announced last September, there was good reason to expect continuity more than change. For starters, it was easy then to assume that Putin approved of the foreign policy of his junior partner, President Dmitri Medvedev. More, it seemed at the time that Russia’s economic challenges would command the majority of Putin’s attention for the foreseeable future. Finally, there were strong incentives for Russia to improve its ties with Washington to balance against a rising China. More
Why Putin’s Re-Election Means Turbulence Ahead
by Andrew C. Kuchins | March 1, 2012| © Foreign Policy