JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Is Burning Up Its Future” – Foreign Affairs

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“How Putin’s Pursuit of Power Has Hollowed Out the Country and Its People”

“… Russia is neither stable nor normal. The [Russian] presidential election brings to maturity the late-stage Putinism that began with the [2020] constitutional referendum … when Putin’s potential mandate was extended until 2036. … Putin has made clear that Russia is fighting a permanent background war with the West … giv[ing] him … an ideological raison d’être and a way for his ruling elite to maintain power. … [T]o keep it … going, he must continually burn up … resources, financial, human, political, and psychological … point[ing] [towards] … political and economic fragility. … Although it retains market fundamentals, the Russian economy is increasingly dependent on government investment. The military-industrial complex has become the overwhelming driver of this unhealthy and unproductive economy …. Russian exports, primarily … oil and gas … provid[e] diminishing returns because of the closure of Western markets and discounted sales. [T]hese nonrenewables are not exhausted yet, and Putin … seems to hope they will … last his lifetime. A larger problem is demography. Along with the … population aging, the demand for soldiers and the collapse of migrant inflows are pitching the country into demographic crisis. … Unable to satisfy the public’s hunger for peace and normality, the regime has resorted to gigantic social expenditures …. Russian society … has been reduced to adapting and surviving, rather than developing. … [C]ivil society, … unable to protest openly, has shown moral resistance …. Putin’s system has been moving in an authoritarian direction ever since it began more than two decades ago. … The difference was that back then, the regime’s antimodern authoritarianism was partly hidden; now, it is in full view. … Putin and his team appear to assume that Russia will have enough reserves of all types — including the forbearance of its population — to last their own lifetimes. …”

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