President Vladimir Putin will likely continue to dominate the Russian political landscape since constitutional reforms allow him to serve two additional terms starting in 2024. Eager to consolidate power and increase control over Russia’s elites, Putin and his government have created an authoritarian-bureaucratic nomenklatura system. These developments have been accompanied by a resolute and somewhat belligerent foreign policy.

The lingering effects of the international financial crisis persisted throughout 2020. They were caused by structural deficiencies in the economic system, high dependency on the sale of raw materials, a dramatic drop in world oil prices and, importantly, economic sanctions imposed by the EU and the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic added to pre-existing economic hardship.

Thus far, the Russian government has coped with these economic difficulties, although Russia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic came rather late. Most attempts at serious dialogue with the EU and the United States have failed. Russia, therefore, decided to prioritize security interests by creating a cordon sanitaire around its western and some of its southern borders.

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