Espreso. Global

Russia switches to rail of fear and denunciation

17 January, 2024 Wednesday

What path will the Putin regime take in 2024?

In brief:

- The stability of macroeconomic indicators will be based on the partial use of the National Welfare Fund (at least RUB 1.3-1.5 trillion out of the approximately RUB 4.5-4.7 trillion accumulated there) and on the devaluation of the ruble. Simply put, Russians will pay for macro-stability by having their lives become worse.

Currently, 43% of Russians say that their standard of living has deteriorated. By the middle to second third of the year, the number will be up to 50%.

Is this critical? It's hard to say, but we can assume that dissatisfaction with the government and the desire to end the war will increase sharply towards the end of 2024 (unless there are major victories). At the same time, an increase in the intensity of the military-industrial buildup to the detriment of other industries will lead to the collapse of a number of these same industries with all the consequences for the economy and social life.

- If the intensity of the hostilities is the same as this year (losses of around 15,000 per month), Putin will not need mobilization. At the same time, at the end of 2024-2025, the method of recruiting contract soldiers in poor regions will be dramatically complicated. There will be a minimum of volunteers, and the only reserve (without mobilization announcement) will be 100% conversion of conscripts to contractors.

- Russia has not become a vassal of China, as many people here say. It will take Russia about two years to become technologically dependent on China in the so-called 21st century economy sectors.

However, China does not want Russia to collapse, but rather a weak Russia with clear leadership. China needs Ukraine, and it must have access to the Black Sea.

Putin has a year and a half to jump off the Chinese technology needle, and then it will be much harder to do so, although even in the case of even greater technological dependence, this will not mean that Russia becomes a vassal of China. Unless China starts playing the game of replacing Putin.

- Putin's election is the election of a lifelong emperor with a change of the game rules.

Now the "Berezovsky model," when opponents were destroyed, is turning into the "Prigozhin model," when anyone suspected of disloyalty is destroyed.

This does not mean that everyone will be killed and terror will begin, but Putin takes the conceptual right to crack down on anyone. The fear of being destroyed for a little disloyalty or independence is becoming the main driving force for the coexistence of elites.

- The main war of the elites no longer works in the logic of power transit but works exclusively in the logic of creating "post(s)" of the gray cardinal(s). The model of the future governance of Russia has two poles.

The first is neo-Andropovschina (the Patrushev-Chemezov project), when a small group of people in the center govern the country through the security forces. The second is Kiriyenko's model, which involves creating a balance between security forces and non-security forces in the form of the creation of the CPSU-2 on the basis of United Russia.

Apparently, a hybrid model will be chosen, with 70-80% of the power going to the security forces. But under any circumstances, in 2024, Russia will finally switch to the rails of fear and denunciation as the outside world is gradually closed off to the population.

- Is Russia ready for a protracted war? Yes and no. Based on all of the above, it would be beneficial for Putin to negotiate in 2024. Theoretically, there is a possible window of opportunity for negotiations in the second half of the year. And here we need to understand that negotiations can also be beneficial to Ukraine's key allies. However, the probability of such a scenario is 50-50.


About the author: Vadym Denysenko, political scientist.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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