Russia and Influence

Last night, we read an article called “Putin’s Game.” Russia is very skilled at computer science and hacking. President Vladimir Putin is fearful of another collapse like the Soviet Union, and he uses aggression to mask the weakness of the state.1 Putin also feels that the US might try to use “democratic empowerment” to trap Russia under its sphere of influence.1 This explains Putin’s disgust for the US and the attempts to hack into US systems during the 2016 election.

I read an article in the New York Times called “Russia Is Returning to Growth (Just in Time for an Election).” which was published in 2017 just before Putin’s reelection. Just before the election, Russia was experiencing significant economic growth under Putin, which may have helped him win. Inflation was decreasing, the consumer demand was high, and the central bank was becoming more stable.2 Government spending helped overcome western sanctions imposed during the Ukraine crisis, supporting Putin’s fight to overcome western influence.2

How can Russia gain more credibility in the global theater and remain independent of influence?

Russia is a country that has experienced recurring periods of stability and collapse. After a collapse, a strong leader or party is needed to restabilize the state. This has happened with the creation of the Soviet Union, and later the election of Putin. Only now is Russia beginning to experience growth again. This is similar to the entrance of the PRI in Mexico during the 20th century. After the Mexican Revolution, Mexico was a fragile state. However, the PRI was a strong party that despite its authoritarian tendencies, transitioned Mexico from a period of weakness to a period of strength.

 

1 Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Game” The Atlantic (January/February 2018)

2 Andrew E. Kramer, “Russia Is Returning to Growth (Just in Time for an Election).” The New York Times (November 24, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/business/russia-economy-putin.html

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