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Igor Yurgens

President of the All-Russian Insurance Association, Member of the Board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs

The "special military operation" (if we use the Kremlin's wording) launched by Moscow on February 24 will have a profound effect on global governance, European security, and, of course, the future of Ukraine.

It is too early to be certain about Russia's future in light of the current events. First, Russia will be exposed to more external pressure. International institutions, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and people around the world have reacted to the events. These reactions are only just beginning to translate into specific measures. It is obvious that the effect of new measures on Russia's economy, its citizens, and its very place in international affairs will be much greater than what we saw in 2014–21. In those seven years, Russia has demonstrated that it is capable of mobilizing politically and economically in response to sanctions. Its economy has remained stable, while society and businesses have been willing to tolerate prolonged stagnation and abandon the prospects of development and growth of prosperity. And it seems that the limit of this tolerance can only be determined by trial and error.

The "special military operation" (if we use the Kremlin's wording) launched by Moscow on February 24 will have a profound effect on global governance, European security, and, of course, the future of Ukraine.

It is too early to be certain about Russia's future in light of the current events. First, Russia will be exposed to more external pressure. International institutions, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and people around the world have reacted to the events. These reactions are only just beginning to translate into specific measures. It is obvious that the effect of new measures on Russia's economy, its citizens, and its very place in international affairs will be much greater than what we saw in 2014–21. In those seven years, Russia has demonstrated that it is capable of mobilizing politically and economically in response to sanctions. Its economy has remained stable, while society and businesses have been willing to tolerate prolonged stagnation and abandon the prospects of development and growth of prosperity. And it seems that the limit of this tolerance can only be determined by trial and error.

Second, this large-scale armed conflict in Eastern Europe has clearly illustrated that the internal checks and balances, upon which the interactions of world powers have relied on for the past seventy-five years (including conflicts), do not have the desired effect on the current Russian leadership. Neither the experts nor the authorities should be overly confident that no further world-shattering actions will be undertaken.

While the quality of Russia's military strategy and planning can be only evaluated later, its poor political planning is already evident. The task of keeping Ukraine under control could be carried out in various forms (and it was often successfully realized in some periods of post-Soviet history). But the "demilitarization" and "denazification" efforts announced by Moscow can only be accomplished through occupation. To abandon the occupation would now mean to surrender potentially the only effective tool of control. Russia has willingly entered a mammoth trap of its own making—an enormous waste of resources and an inability to achieve its national interests anywhere outside the occupation zone.

Furthermore, Moscow's reliance on Beijing is growing considerably. The People's Republic of China remains the only stable and large external market for Russia and its only source of advanced technologies. But these new conditions made this relationship a deadly poison for the Chinese.

As of now, Russia is gradually turning from an actor into only a factor in efforts for a new kind of global resilience and sustainability. The events of February 2022 have become the strongest evidence for that. Seeing these events unfold from the vantage point of Moscow, one can only hope that no more drastic measures and radical steps will be taken.



Source: Council on Foreign Relations

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