Putin faces economic wind chill from strategic cold war blunder
How Russian leader handles retreat after backing wrong horse in Ukraine will be key to his fate.
Published 27/07/2014 | 02:30
Russia is very different today from the one following Putin's succession from Yeltsin. Its economy has grown tenfold after collapsing two thirds during the 90s, and while Putin may, eventually, be at risk from within, due to his miscalculated strategy in the Ukraine - a game where he'd hoped to exploit US and European divisions, his fate is still in his own hands, tied to the quality of his retreat and his management of the economy.
In the latest Gallup poll, Putin's popularity has soared after annexing the Crimea from 54pc last year to 83pc this week, although the effect of economic sanctions has yet to reach the street. Meanwhile, Ukraine's fledgling coalition has collapsed, triggering fresh elections in October.
Neither is it necessarily in the world's best interests if Putin is replaced. He is, by some measure, one of the least fearful Russian leaders in its history and thoughts of a post-Putin westernisation of Russia are at best fanciful and at worst catastrophic.