Will Russia survive under Vladimir Putin?

Published: March 22, 2015
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President-elect Vladimir Putin speaks in the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg. PHOTO: AFP

In an interview with the Russian and foreign media on January 19, 2014, Vladimir Putin remarked:

“Sometimes it is necessary to be lonely in order to prove that you are right”.

But has Putin’s self-righteousness actually been efficacious for Russia?

The alteration of the foreign policy decision-making structure by Putin allowed him to emerge as the central decision-maker ever since he stepped into power. Policy matters were assigned to secondary actors composed of an informal circle of loyal associates to Putin. The inner circle of Putin loyalists are power hungry and in such a system, the effectiveness of policy is lost. Corruption is enhanced because a self-seeking servile flatterer is valued above earnest governance. The internal cracks due to venality and weakness of the system have been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian conflict, led by a person who believes that his actions will eventually lead to success, is fracturing the system. The reality is presenting a diverging scenario.

Sanctions imposed by the West due to the crisis in Ukraine, along with plummeting oil prices, has affected Russia with its first GDP contraction since the global financial crisis. Resource-rich Russia largely depends on the sale of oil for its revenues but the slump in energy markets has adversely affected the country’s market and economic outlook. The Ruble has been falling steadily with no signs of recovery and a record low of 80 per dollar was observed in mid-December 2014. As the condition worsens, Putin fails to provide a specific plan for restructuring the economy.

In January 2010, a customs union was established by Russia along with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which was later transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union in 2014, which integrated the Customs Union into the legal framework of the EEU. The main purpose of EEU was to enhance economic integration with the former Soviet states. These states would benefit from access to state procurement, lifting of migration quotas and access to Russian oil and gas.

While the creation of Eurasian Customs Union was an important step to enhance financial growth, its effectiveness has been stalled by the decision to place sanctions against western goods. This decision was in response to Putin’s autarchic version of nationalism based on enhancing economic self-sufficiency aligned with Western sanctions. Voices raised by members of the EEU against this decision, not only indicate the rising internal conflict within the union but also present a challenging scenario for the EEU members in the long term. This isolationism will lead the EEU to become less innovative and competitive as their freedom on product selection becomes restricted.

The recent Munich Security Conference is a testimony of an isolationist approach, strictly being followed by Russian officials. The lack of engagement by Russia’s foreign minister with the audience, and guarded stance about the Ukrainian issue was in stark contrast with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s candid discussion. Even before the Ukrainian crisis commenced, Germany assisted Russia in modernising its economy with the help of German expertise. But Putin has not reciprocated the favour, nor has he strengthened ties with Germany.

The absence of dialogue and minimal participation of Russian officials at international conferences has led to an enhanced trust deficit between the two countries. And lack of trust is not only confined to the region or the West, the views of Russian citizens have changed significantly as well.

If the president’s popularity is assessed, the premise of his success was on garnering enormous public support in the past 15 years. Whether it was due to the military reforms or infrastructural development to improve the lifestyle of the ordinary Russian man, Putin was perceived in a positive light. However, the conflict in Ukraine and the economic collapse has not only tarnished Putin’s image but also revealed the lack of strategic depth in his policies.

In the future, Russia will be crippled by unrest in its non-Russian regions. Apart from the 60% Russian population in Crimea, there is a population of Crimean Tatars who are Muslims and are being radicalised due to oppressive Russian rule. The recent terrorist attacks in Chechnya and the ongoing violence in Dagestan and Ingushetia all present grave challenges to the stability of Russia.

All signs indicate that the regime will collapse like a house of cards as the leader stands alone amidst anarchy and chaos.

Arshmah Jamil

Arshmah Jamil

She is currently pursuing her M.Phil International Relations from National Defence University and tweets @arshmah_ (twitter.com/arshmah_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Italicus

    “… will collapse like a house of cards… amidst anarchy and chaos.”
    This is precisely the aim or even the dream of the whole Western policy against Russia. And it is precisely thanks to those articles that the Russian people is ever more hostile to the West.
    Ms. Arshmah Jamil is further teaching us how much she’s deserving the high praise of her country, that’s searching its own entry into the SCO.Recommend

  • Michael Brytan

    Price of Oil per barrel – 2014 = $ 110 & Financial Reserves = $ 620 billion
    Price of Oil per barrel – 2015 = $ 50 & Financial Reserves = $ 350 billion
    Price of Oil per barrel – 2016 = $ 40 & Financial Reserves = $ 0

    Russia will be KAPUT in early 2016
    No money = no army
    No money = no medicine for the people
    No money = lack of food
    No money = no government

    NO MONEY IN 2016 = NO RUSSIA IN 2016

    FREEDOM FOR UKRAINE (that’ what they want)
    FREEDOM FOR EUROPE (that’ what they want)
    ENSLAVEMENT FOR RUSSIA (that’ what they want)
    ENSLAVEMENT FOR RUSSIAN PEOPLE (that’s what they want)Recommend

  • syed azeem sabzvari

    The article lacks any knowledge and depth of political calculations and focus only on the economic repercussions

    Russia has just held its largest military exercises
    and time has only proved russia’s stance on Ukraine

    when will our writers stop peddling the western discource on events everywhere?Recommend

  • Prashant

    “All signs indicate that the regime will collapse like a house of cards as the leader stands alone amidst anarchy and chaos.”

    Gosh, that was a sweeping conclusion, no doubt Putin is autocratic and less than democratic but to say he has lost all his relevance is nowhere near reality. Russia is a very old country but in its infancy as far as democracy is concerned, Russians have always identified with strong leaders and Putin presented himself as one of those taking on the western powers, Russia might be going through economic woes but Russia will not face those days again which it did in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Soviet Union. The western world needs to understand that Russia is too proud a nation to give in to their demands especially in the Eastern Europe where the Nato is inching ever closer to those areas which Russia has always considered its own area of influence.Recommend

  • James Lovatt

    It’s Tatars, not Tartars. And what was the point of the article? It said nothing new and failed to answer the question posed by the headline.
    Recommend

  • owlafaye

    “if you don’t agree your comment will not be published”

    The above complaint WAS published however…lolRecommend

  • sec500001

    Russia will not collapse after Putin. Europe will simply absorb it into the Union. Britain and smaller nations will love it just to end the dominance of Germany and France. With one stroke Brussels will be the leading power displacing America. Europe will now extend from Atlantic to Pacific. The other main advantage for Europe is it will no longer depend on others for food and oil. At the same time Europe will see to it that Russian borders will not be changed. And it will have three seats in the Security Council.Recommend

  • http://www.jonathanstewartphotos.com/ Jonathan Stewart

    All signs? You paint a dire picture for Russia’s near-term future, but Putin has shown amazing resiliency. What are the signs that things are different this time? Are there rumblings among his inner circle? Does the military have a motive to remove him? Why wouldn’t his strategy of brutal crackdowns, information control and scapegoating continue to get him through? If we’ve learned anything from Russian history, it’s that its people have a very high tolerance for suffering.Recommend

  • Pamela Cohen

    Another hit piece against Putin. The US sanctions countries and turns its back on the resulting deaths of innocent men, women and children, like they did in Iraq in the past. There are a whole list of countries that do not trust the Bully US. This is just another piece of regurgitating the Western media. US-paid mercenaries started the killing in the Ukraine. Do some research. Don’t sell your soul for a paycheck.
    I watched the history of Cuba and the numerous times the US tried to assassinate Castro. Does not play well with others…. is a minimization for the corrupt ‘leaders’ in the US.
    “If you can keep your head, when all around you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you….”
    Putin loves his country. You can’t say that for Obama.Recommend

  • Jiri Klouda

    People who talk about Putin being bad for Russia or anything to the tune of Russia would be better with someone other than Putin, don’t realize that Putin is the best choice we are ever going to get. Anyone else, who could hold onto the office, would be worse. Not only for Russian people, but for the West mainly.

    Putin from his position of popularity and power has the opportunity to hold back. He can be a moderate. Anyone who would come after him would have to prove himself and so being moderate would be totally out of question. Just imagine a real hardliner holding that office.

    There is also a chance that Russia would plunge into chaos and fight for leadership or the 90s style mafia takeover of the country. I don’t believe this scenario is good for anyone. Russian people would not like to repeat the 90s for sure and the west would get a security nightmare if this happened inside a nuclear country.Recommend

  • Robert Kelty

    Haha, hilarious.Recommend

  • john smith

    you really dont grasp the situation ,, its about , the dollar and its losing strength, the global ponzi scheme is unraveling ,Recommend

  • john smith

    debt based economy is blowin up , bonds issued by the same banks that control the fed ,, buyin their own debt ,, hahaha,, like you buy the debit you accumulated on your credit card with another credit card ,, see now you can use that card with the cleared balance to buy crap again ,after all you just pay it off with the other card right , keep swapin the debt back and forth right ,,no harm there right ,,Recommend

  • john smith

    check out max keiser he interviews former Goldman Sachs banker, Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers about the Cold War, she tells it pretty much as it is ,, only i simplified it for the intellectually disabled person, or someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive wayRecommend

  • Parvez

    What you have failed to portray is that when the USSR broke up it was the humiliation of a super power that took place …….. now Putin is trying to build back that sense of pride that his country’s people so desire.
    ‘ Hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned ‘ is a saying well worth remembering and now multiply that by 150 million and you’ll get the Russian scenario.Recommend

  • Alex P

    Classic article; where the author picked her noise, and smeared it across the page.Recommend

  • Stuart Redmond

    Russia will indeed survive BECAUSE of Mr. Putin, not in spite of him. As much trouble as other countries attempt to cause, and, in fact, what problems Russia creates for itself, it will not have any lasting impact. Like him or don’t. but Mr. Putin is the most capable world leader on the stage today.Recommend

  • Patrick Gearon

    ‘The Ruble has been falling steadily’.

    The figures quoted in support of this are from Oct 2014,

    however for the last 2 months, the value of the Ruble has been rising.

    One more correction. The lowest point for the Ruble was 68 per dollar on 14 December, not 80 as quoted.Recommend

  • http://www.yahoo.com GLighthouse

    His country, his people… they have a right to choose him and they have a right to do, to support whatsoever best for them. The low-life media need to stop smear and mud and back out of people business. Your propaganda to boost war don’t help no one but bring devastated disaster that nobody want. The low-life media need to shut up and go find another jobs or learn to be a grown up mature professional ethical in business. We don’t want war and we don’t wage wars. The globalists and International Jewish bankers cartel and Rothschild Empire who created wars to make money, convert or go to Hell. A nuclear war will destroy all humankind instantly, you stupid fools.Recommend

  • Old_guy

    The structure you have described sounds similar to the way that Hitler interacted with his immediate circle which resulted in poorly defined boundaries of responsibility, and hence much internal rivalry amongst the top echelon and associated chaos and waste down the line, yet Hitler’s regime did not collapse from within, with the “cult of Hitler” remaining a strong force to the very end. This example would suggest that there is no way to accurately predict what will happen to Putin’s regime, and that a collapse such as you describe is only one possible scenario.Recommend

  • nzaar

    I feel your article lacks does not address the other sides view:

    1. Putins popularity within russia has actually increased as a result of ukraine; its currently at 85pc. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/12/03/voices-putin-russia-popularity-defies-logic/19831943/

    2. Sanctions have substituted imports with local goods. Sales of russian companies have increased massively, the ruble has stabilized; http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-03-20/russia-rebounds-despite-sanctions

    3. Latest sanctions are not as stiff as one might think, some view them as largely symbolic; http://www.cnbc.com/id/102435226

    4. Investors are ready to pile into russia; http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/03/12/why-russia-is-better-than-europe/
    Recommend

  • habzz

    The USA continues to pump out this ridicules propaganda hoping we will believe it and it is the farthest thing from the truth . Putin is even more popular then before and the more Obama meddles in other countries the more the people will support him. And it’s not just Russians but people from around the world that are sick of USA bullying.Recommend

  • carolynnigro

    I think the more pressing question is – Will America survive under Barack Obama?Recommend

  • Chris Carmichael

    It is becoming increasingly apparent that Obama’s policy of sanctions and non-confrontation has achieved its core purpose — to cause Putin to over reach. And over reach he has.
    1) The ruble is in collapse and Russian banking is in serious trouble. Foreign investment is non-existent. The economy is extremely two-dimensional and far too heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue. But oil and gas are currently in surplus and it looks like they will be that way for a decade or more.
    2) Putin has started a massive and expensive military buildup. But it is having extremely spotty results because with the Ukraine, Putin lost around 40% of his military industrial capability. It makes little sense to build hundreds of helicopters when no engines are available to power them.
    3) Putin has created massive centers of collapse on his borders. Chechnya, Georgia, Moldova, the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine are little more than failed states with no functioning economy or infrastructure. They will be centers of discontent and trouble for Russia for decades to come.
    4) Putin’s parasitic relationship with both the siloviki and Russian organized crime and his deep connections with the FSB have created a dysfunctional government where not only is there no democracy, but there is no republic either. Now the siloviki have lost around 50% of their wealth, the Russian “mafia” is out of control, and the FSB is facing steep budget cuts.
    At this point Putin cannot continue on his current path for long, but also cannot back away. There was an old Uncle Remus story about the Tar Baby. Once touched, a person could never let go of the Tar Baby. We will see if Putin is as smart as Br’er Rabbit.Recommend

  • varuag

    why this censorship ?????Recommend

  • Anjaan Aadmi

    Russia survived over 200 years of hostility from Britain … saved Europe on two occasions, once from Napoleon and later from Hitler … time will prove that Russia is far from a house of cards …Recommend

  • Saud kaludu

    What are you talking about “putins image has been tarnished by Ukraine conflict” . Putins approval ratings in Russia rose from 60% to 93% after ukraine. It has recently fallen to 87%. Talk to any russian, and they care more about national pride than economy. Its a very different mindset from the west and is mostly a result of going through communism in the last century. Putins survivalibilty depends on local popularity and not his relations with the westRecommend

  • windk

    “…the more the people will support him” – I assume you mean support Putin? How did the USA “pump this article out”? It is by a Pakistani scholar and a Pakistani publication. Russia’s government has more than enough media control and ammunition to counter any propaganda from the U.S., e.g, according to RT.com the U.S. is the only country in history which has any racial strife and repression, has started wars, and to top it off, developed ebola to infect the rest of the world, etc. Is the U.S. perfect? No. Do all of it’s citizens have all the same beliefs? No. The same can be said for Russia or any other country. People aren’t perfect, a country wont be perfect either. At least here in the U.S. average citizens and the media can criticize our federal leaders without fear of physical reprisal. I hope the same for your country too, whatever that may be. Recommend

  • owlafaye

    Russia isn’t about to fail, quite the contrary…they are taking advantage of every aspect of the sanctions. Their strengthening of internal industry through substitution businesses is brilliant. They still sell oil and gas, that is income, granted at reduced prices…therefore they curtail expenditures and go without in certain goods. In the meantime they are increasing export business while sitting on the smallest debt to GDP ratio in Europe. Russia’s economic prospects are attracting foreign investment once again and all accomplished within the past year…brilliant, simply brilliant.Recommend

  • Michael Brytan

    You are right.
    The USA, Canada and Europe need to apply much harsher sanctions to more negatively impact the Muscovite-Russian economy.Recommend

  • Mixa

    Let me ask you a question: is
    there any proof of “Russian aggression”? I’m not interested in public
    opinion, I’m asking for facts and circumstances. You’ve been massively
    misinformed ! https://youtu.be/CtUxk5WybswRecommend

  • Mixa

    It
    has been over a year of blood, tears and destruction in Ukraine especially in
    SE Ukraine. The new country now called Novorossia, has been fighting the puppet
    government in Kiev; however, it is the USA which is encouraging the genocide in
    the Donbass region. Россию никто не поставит на колени.https://youtu.be/GXAQKyXJZGYRecommend

  • Mixa

    The US provokes and
    provokes Russia..Recommend

  • http://machiventa.org/phpBB3/index.php Paul Kemp

    This writer is being paid to promote falsehoods not based upon or backed up by actual facts. The truth never suffers from honest examination and can be verified by presenting real facts rather than fabricated lies designed to mislead those who engage in willful ignorance and lazy thinking. Recommend