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Research Report

Russian futures:: Horizon 2025

Hiski Haukkala
Nicu Popescu
Pavel K. Baev
Alexander Gabuev
Samuel A. Greene
Gustav C. Gressel
Vladislav Inozemtsev
Maria Lipman
Nikolay Petrov
Carolina Vendil Pallin
Yulia Zhuchkova
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2016
Pages: 87
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-6)
    Antonio Missiroli

    The idea of undertaking a reflection on the future(s) of Russia emerged as soon as the most intense phase of the confrontation in and over Ukraine began to subside. Once the ‘strategic surprise’ generated by the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of the Donbass was over, and right before the (once again, unexpected) military intervention in Syria was launched, questions were raised about whether the new aggressive posture adopted in Moscow would be a permanent feature of international relations for the years to come. These questions revolved around the origins, the root causes and the drivers of such a...

  2. (pp. 7-12)
    Hiski Haukkala and Nicu Popescu

    Predicting Russia’s future is a perilous exercise. Many, indeed perhaps most, of those who have ventured to make such predictions in the past have erred in one way or another. At the moment the danger of getting things wrong is perhaps particularly high since quite a number of short-term uncertainties with long-term consequences for the European continent – in both Russia and the EU – could make the next few years, let alone the next decade, radically different. From regional wars, refugees and their impact on the EU, to the falling oil price and Russia’s infatuation with military power as...

  3. Section 1: The domestic foundations of Russian power

    • (pp. 15-22)
      Maria Lipman and Nikolay Petrov

      Since his rise to power in 2000 Vladimir Putin has had two major priorities: ‘control’ at home and ‘sovereignty’ on the world scene. The importance of these two priorities has not eclipsed other goals, such as economic development, but the latter has always been secondary to the foremost priorities cited above. Throughout the ‘softer’ period of his rule, up until his presidential comeback in 2012, Putin was able to balance his main and his secondary objectives: the economy kept growing while domestically Putin set about systematically removing political opposition and competition, and ensured unchallenged power for himself. He successfully resisted...

    • (pp. 23-30)
      Vladislav Inozemtsev and Yulia Zhuchkova

      In order to gain insight into how the Russian economy is likely to evolve between now and 2025 three questions need to be addressed: (i) what were the drivers of Russia’s growth in the 2000s and why has that growth ceased since 2008?; (ii) how is the country’s economy managed and what are the political implications of pursuing various development paths?; and (iii) how are energy policies, overall economic performance and foreign policy interconnected?

      The Russian economy in its current form emerged after the crisis of 1998 and since then its progress has been based on two key factors.


    • (pp. 31-38)
      Gustav C. Gressel

      Despite a declining economy and plummeting oil prices, Russia appears determined to maintain a high level of military spending and engagement. Even as Russia’s economic model founders, the Kremlin has sought to make military glory the new centrepiece of Russian pride and identity. The development of the military-industrial complex plays a central role in Russia’s ‘re-industrialisation’ plans,¹ with the aim of modernising the economy through investment in the defence sector. Although decisions on future long-term armament plans have been postponed until the economic situation in Russia stabilises, there is no backtracking on defence as the new raison d’état.

      The recent...

  4. Section 2: The drivers of Russian foreign policy

    • (pp. 41-46)
      Samuel A. Greene

      ‘Barack Obama made us do it!’ That, in a nutshell, was the excuse thrown up by Ekspert, the closest thing Russia’s ruling elite have to a journal of record, the morning after the Moscow municipal authorities razed more than a hundred kiosks and shops around the city in a midnight raid. Ostensibly, the municipality was simply restoring order by demolishing buildings erected in the 1990s in violation of city regulations; no matter, Mayor Sergei Sobianin said, that the owners were ‘hiding behind flimsy deeds of title’, or that, on some estimates, 3,000 jobs were lost overnight in the midst of...

    • (pp. 47-54)
      Alexander Gabuev

      China and Russia began to build closer ties as of early 2014. The catalyst for the rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing was the international crisis over Ukraine, which estranged Russia from the West. For many observers it was the $400 billion gas deal signed in Shanghai in May 2014 that became the symbol of the emerging alliance. But the warming in Sino-Russian relations went much deeper than the clinching of this deal, which marked the conclusion of negotiations and bilateral cooperation efforts that have been ongoing for more than 15 years. The main shift after the crisis in Ukraine was...

    • (pp. 55-60)
      Pavel K. Baev

      There used to be a lot of continuity in Russian policy in the Middle East, which theoretically at least made it possible to map a coherent trajectory and extrapolate predictions for the next 10 years. The turmoil that has engulfed the region since early 2011 would have made such extrapolation hazardous, but what makes it plain impossible is Russia’s bold departure from its traditional pattern of cautious opportunistic manoeuvring as exemplified by the military intervention in Syria. This risk-prone enterprise has added significantly to the burden of Russia’s military engagements, and in the current context of economic recession the Kremlin...

  5. Section 3: Russia as a European power

    • (pp. 63-68)
      Carolina Vendil Pallin

      It could be argued that Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia all belong to a neighbourhood shared by the European Union (EU) and Russia. Certainly, prior to the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the EU’s discourse of ‘win-win situations’ implied that it did not regard this region as a theatre of geopolitical competition. However, if Russia’s initial attitude to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was guarded, then its position on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy became increasingly hostile as Association Agreements (AAs) were progressively signed with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine and the process of implementing...

    • (pp. 69-74)
      Hiski Haukkala and Nicu Popescu

      Barring fundamental changes in either the EU, the Russian Federation or both, in 2025 the EU-Russia relationship will remain complicated, to say the least – an uneasy mix of continued cooperation interspersed with bouts of confrontation. The relationship will be defined by a number of factors: from continued (and often uneasy) interdependence, to how the EU and Russia perceive themselves and each other. This chapter looks at how EU-Russia relations may have evolved a decade from now vis-à-vis a whole range of strategic issues, including the future of economic cooperation, Russia’s modernisation, EU/NATO enlargements and the role of military power...