Conclusively, the complicated and unpredictable 2020 is almost over. The 2021 political season will start in a complex environment. In Russia, the non-multifaceted policy, reliance on individual clans’ business interests and the systemic lack of flexibility in scenarios are a detriment to the country’s development.
The events of recent years indicate that the Kremlin has no balanced policy towards the CIS and the post-Soviet space at all. All this was over at the end of 2000s. Then, Russia finally lost influence in its far-flung orbit of interests – in Serbia, the Baltic countries, in the Balkans as a whole.
Then, there was the “second round”: Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia. Tellingly, at the end of the first decade, the Kremlin still played politics somehow. So, pro-Russian forces with imperial designs exploited corresponding discourse, e.g.
We spoke the same language, and we have shared history, economy and a desire to live better. But since the middle of the second decade, the Kremlin just had to “play enclaves.”
The imperial discourse was replaced by semi-gangster groups in the breakaway states’ customs grey areas. Russia began to offer not “an image of a better life,” but only to intimidate with the horrors of division and separatism. Today, Russia has lost its strategy of behaviour and instead only frightens residents with “Europe and the US State Department.”
With this approach, the defeat of pro-Russian ideas (especially those that do not exist) in Belarus is inevitable, as soon as Lukashenka can no longer hold power by force.
There is already dissatisfaction in Armenia, where they experience the Karabakh’s partial surrender and a too “balanced” Russian policy. Central Asia is impacted de facto by China as it has been for a long time, Azerbaijan to Turkey. Following the loss of influence in the CIS, it is clear historically that issues may begin inside the federation, especially in the national republics.
The Kremlin seems not to understand that it is time to think about whether not just the country, but the whole post-empire can survive without any clear goals, strategies, even a simple way of the future “where we are going,” “why we all gathered here?” But most likely, no one thinks about it.
The Kremlin’s domestic policy boils down to the banal goal of Russia’s ruling elites – to preserve and increase their capital. In such a situation, any ideology is the main enemy for them because it pushes into some framework. In modern Russia, there is no clear national unifying idea. As such, they try to present patriotism in every possible way, but none will advance with one victory in the Great Patriotic War. Moreover, the President of the Russian Federation has recently declared the need to de-ideologize the Great Patriotic War. The Kremlin is probably going to deprive itself of the main idea and remain in a vacuum without unifying interests. In Russia, the elites’ ideology is not identical at all with the patriotism.
At the same time, the level of trust in all political institutions, especially in parties, decreases. This trend is extremely dangerous for the empire. Society is in a state of vacuum, which at any moment can get any accidentally thrown idea. With the sharp rise in paternalistic sentiments, they are less and less associated with political action, such as the support of “left” parties. The rating of communists and socialists is growing slightly, as the demand for social justice has been reduced to simple requests for survival: “give money, give medicine, give …”. The government receives these requests and is less and less willing to fulfil them. But until this contract is terminated, the survival of the population will be ensured by the unconditional support of government policy.
That is a policy of stagnation in its worst manifestation because, unlike Brezhnev’s stagnation, it is stagnation and extinction, not slow growth, even in the context of general equalisation.
The breakthrough policy that Putin spoke about in his inaugural speech turned out to be another Kremlin fantasy. The lack of clear ideas and steps triggers the Kremlin’s fiasco.
Yuri Fedorenko, an analyst, an expert on public communication.
The author’s opinion does not always coincide with the editorial position.