Anticipating Russia's 2024 developments
We're likely to witness internal disputes within the Russian elites, possibly even manufactured ones, in the autumn of 2024
Russia's domestic political situation
A significant and noteworthy shift in the Russian Federation is the decline in its internal socio-economic conditions. Pinpointing the exact state of the economy is challenging due to constant misinformation from Putin and the authorities.
However, a September 2023 survey by The Institute of Conflict Studies and Analysis of Russia (IKAR) reveals a notable shift in Russian sentiment: 42% identify low salaries and pensions as the foremost issue, and the “special military operation” at 31%. Contrasting this with December 2022, where 50% considered the military operation the main problem and only 25% cited low salaries and pensions.
This trend toward a worsening situation is acknowledged by Putin himself, who dedicated a significant portion of his press conference to social issues rather than the ongoing war.
Why does this matter? I consistently emphasize that revolutions in Russia initiate from the top. Initially, conditions deteriorate, paving the way for individuals within the ruler's circle to emerge as potential leaders seeking change. Prigozhin exemplified this, yet due to the lack of societal prerequisites, he ultimately failed. This is Putin's greatest fear – the rise of a new opposition leader.
My prediction is that approaching autumn will bring about conflicts within the Russian elites, possibly even orchestrated ones, creating a controlled opposition figure. However, as history shows, the controlled often veer out of control, akin to the times of the tsar.
Putin's election is expected to be calm. The key question is whether he can deliver achievements like Avdiivka. Currently, my prediction is – no, he won’t. Russian generals underestimated the situation, burning significant resources, and recovery may take too long before the elections. However, it's doubtful that Putin needs a victory for the Russians. If Avdiivka is not taken, they’ll celebrate the capture of some other minor settlement. The survey indicates that the “special military operation” is not a priority. Instead, he rather needs this kind of victory for his partners.
The election results will likely be globally recognized, albeit with criticisms about their democratic nature. And I urge our activists not to waste resources fighting this recognition. Non-recognition hampers any peace process with Putin's involvement, an outcome the West won't accept.
Sanctions remain a potent tool for ending the war. And I think Ukraine needs to exert more effort. While 2023 showed a 40% decline in Russian oil revenues, it wasn't a complete success. Russia gained access to crucial technologies and managed to militarize its economy. Despite assistance from China, India, Iran, and North Korea, the majority of Russia's income and technology still comes from the West.
In 2024, the focus is likely to shift towards enforcing existing sanctions rather than adopting new packages. Ukraine should actively participate, detecting violations by countries like Georgia or Kazakhstan, which facilitate significant Western imports to Russia. A crucial conversation between the West and India about its democratic stance is hoped for.
The war's combat phase will unfold in two stages. The first is before Putin's election, as discussed earlier. The second, before the U.S. election, from July to August, could see Putin launching a powerful offensive, possibly targeting Kharkiv. While the offensive might be futile, its purpose is to showcase Biden's failure in supporting Ukraine, favoring Trump in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
Overall, a prediction is made that Ukraine and Russia will swap roles next year. Russia may launch robust counterattacks but face setbacks. Ukraine could achieve some successful counterattacks, possibly even winning more than the previous year. Putin is anticipated to end the year on a very sad note with failed offensives, deteriorating internal conditions, and elite divisions.
About the author. Viktor Andrusiv, a political and public figure, analyst, and publicist
The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.