Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

Post-Putin possibilities

By Carl Bildt

18 Jan 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

Former Swedish foreign minister weighs in on how a post-Putin Russia would lead to a "political and constitutional sea change" and why the breakup of the Russian federation is highly unlikely.

STOCKHOLM – Now that Russia has been so greatly damaged and diminished by President Vladimir Putin’s reckless war of choice in Ukraine, what might the country’s future hold? Plausible scenarios range from a power grab by a hardline security adviser like Nikolai Patrushev to an election victory by a dissident like Alexei Navalny. But one thing is almost certain: Putin’s regime will not survive the war he started.

After all, Putin’s so-called power vertical may span many economic and political domains, but it is fully dependent on tight control from the top. The entire structure will invariably start to fracture as that control is weakened, and as different groups and interests start maneuvering to scoop up the spoils from the inevitable collapse. The system’s main strength – all-powerful top-down control – thus will become its fatal weakness.

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