What is Putin’s strategy?

Russia currently is built on a system and network that revolves around a three pronged strategy: Keep elites support Putin, keep elites be able continue their earnings, keep the society intact from economic meltdown.

Current pandemic started hurting lives and livelihoods in Russia and it seems the state was unable to anticipate the surge of infections and this has negatively impacted the support of Putin’s support rates from the society. Given that the whole system is built on how he keeps all the pillars intact, he will need to keep on developing economic solutions for the society moving forward. Unfortunately, energy industry and petrol prices are heavily impacted from the pandemic.

Starting point of the collusion between Russia and Saudi Arabia, almost 20% of global petrol and natural gas production capacity, was to reduce petrol price levels and in turn harm US shale oil manufacturers that have a higher break-even point comparatively. This, however, had a negative repercussion on budget revenues of Russia, that is around one third dependent on energy industry. Russia also generates two thirds of its export revenue from energy and petrol sales.

Economic situation and ongoing sanctions since the beginning of Russia’s Ukraine, Syria and Libya interventions have been contributing to the negative approval rate of Putin in Russia, which revolves around 60%.

As long as Putin is able to protect the elites, read oligarchs, from external forces and be able to keep Russian public in check following potential shake out amongst the elites due to pandemic driven global economic depression, and repress the negativity around even more diminished number of oligarchs closely protected by Russian state, Putin will be able to continue holding on to his power, maybe at a diminished state, but in power nonetheless.

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