The number of “black swans” for the Russian Federation in the near future will grow.
Since Vladimir Putin came to power 20 years ago, Russia lost its influence in Georgia, the Balkans and in Ukraine. Moscow closed all Russian military bases abroad, except Syria, and NATO has expanded its influence to Russia’s borders.
Writes about this edition of International Policy Digest (translation sprotyv.info).
Despite these fatal losses, the Kremlin’s propagandists continue to portray Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical one of the greatest geniuses of all time. In fact, the approval ratings of Russian President had recently fallen to historic levels. The main reason is that the credibility of Russia as to the President has fallen sharply due to the controversial pension reform, and also due to the economic downturn. At the end of last year, the Russian government announced its decision to raise the retirement age slightly lower than the average life expectancy of the average Russian. Under the new regulations, the Russian state pension age will be increased for men from 60 to 65 by 2028 and for women from 55 to 63 years to 2034. According to statistics, life expectancy at birth for men in Russia was 65.3, and for women — 77 years.
President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin may have lost the continued support of the Russian youth. It is not surprising that, according to a survey conducted in December 2018, 41% of young Russians said they intend to emigrate.
One of the main problems for the Russian leader is that he can no longer play the card of Crimea at home for political gain. Although the inclusion of Crimea into the Russian Federation in 2014 has led to a sharp increase in the approval rating of the Russian President, five years later, this issue was overshadowed by widespread economic difficulties. In addition, the Crimea is unlikely to compensate for the loss of Ukraine. While the power was Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, Russia kept Ukraine in its geopolitical orbit. After the events on the Maidan in Kiev in 2013-2014, Russia has lost its influence on Ukraine.
Putin has also lost Georgia after the so-called rose revolution in Tbilisi in 2003. Five years later, Russia fought and won a short war with the former Soviet Republic, which lost control of two breakaway regions — Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia recognized these entities as independent States, but Georgia remained under the sphere of influence of the West. However, Putin’s apologists tend to describe it as a great victory. In their view, regaining control over Chechnya is another great achievement of Putin. However, before the conflict, ethnic Russians made up approximately 20 percent of the population of Chechnya. After Putin’s “victory” in 2000 the number of Russian in the Chechen Republic fell to less than two percent. Chechnya continues to be heavily subsidised by Moscow, and no hope of becoming economically self-sufficient in the current political environment.
In addition to the losses in the former Soviet Union, Russia under Putin has lost its influence in the Balkans. In 2003, the Kremlin ordered the Russian peacekeeping forces to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Since most of the Balkan countries have either joined the EU and NATO, or actively engaged in membership negotiations. Russia, on the other hand, shut down its military bases in Azerbaijan, Cuba, Georgia and Uzbekistan, while NATO approached the borders of Russia after Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia joined the Alliance in 2004.
According to some Russian analysts, the responsibility for the catastrophe of the submarine “Kursk” is Vladimir Putin. The nuclear submarine “Kursk” sank in the Barents sea after explosions on Board, 12 August 2000, about three months after Putin’s first term. He was criticized because he remained on vacation in Sochi, he returned to the Kremlin only five days after the death. It took another four days before he went to the Northern port of Murmansk, where he coordinated the rescue operation. According to critics, as commander in chief of the armed forces, Putin was obliged to know about the fatal naval exercise which was the largest in post-Soviet history of Russia.
Over the past twenty years, Russia has faced many other tragedies and geopolitical humiliation. Most likely, in the coming years, it will face even more disasters.