Putin for the fourth time. The state of and prospects for Russia (2018-2024)
The current system of government in Russia will not collapse, although signs of destabilisation may appear. The authorities will not carry out any reforms, political or economic. A process of ‘technocratisation’ will take place. The economy will remain dependent on external factors. Despite the implementation of energy infrastructure projects, exports of raw materials will not rise significantly. The economy will continue to stagnate, and the government will partially reduce social spending. Russia will attempt to drive a wedge between the United States and its allies by offering the latter the prospect of normalised relations and economic cooperation. Moscow will intensify its cooperation with China, giving way to Beijing in Central Asia. Russia may increase its influence in Belarus and in the South Caucasus. Despite its failure in Ukraine, Moscow will not give up its attempts to subjugate that country. Moscow may opt for one of two scenarios with regard to the West: the ‘confrontational-crisis’ scenario will be based on an increase in indirect (proxy) confrontation with the West (especially the US). The ‘inertial-opportunist’ scenario will be based on a defence of Russia’s existing (geo)political achievements, and on attempts to exploit emerging opportunities to demonstrate its potential to damage the West’s interests and create problems for whose resolution Russia would be essential. The armed forces of the Russian Federation will continue their technical modernisation and organisational changes, raising the level of their combat readiness and preparation for a hypothetical armed conflict with NATO, although Russia’s asymmetry with the US will be maintained.