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From Putin's dictatorship to country's collapse: Atlantic Council named five scenarios for Russia's future

Sophia ZakrevskaNews
The Atlantic Council predicts what the future of the Russian Federation may look like

The Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, has voiced five scenarios of what the aggressor country Russia could look like in six years, in 2030. Dictator Vladimir Putin could remain in power, and if his regime is ousted, events could develop in very different ways. The complete collapse of Russia and a "parade of sovereignties" are also possible.

This was reported by the Voice of America. The author of the report, Casey Michel, emphasized that even though this list of scenarios for the future of the Russian Federation is not exhaustive, these are the most likely ones.

Scenario #1: Putin remains president of the Russian Federation

Russia may lose hundreds of thousands of its military and fail to achieve its goals in the war against Ukraine. This will lead to an overheating of the Russian economy and the destruction of trade in all directions, from the Caucasus to Central Asia. The Russian invasion of Ukraine will be Russia's biggest geopolitical mistake.

In such circumstances, frightened Russians will refuse to protest and oppose the Putin regime, and a significant part of his electorate will continue to support the war. Meanwhile, the president of the aggressor country will move towards direct dictatorship and totalitarianism, continue to imprison oppositionists and destroy opposition media.

In this scenario, Russia will continue its war against Ukraine, hoping for the collapse of the Western alliance that supports our country.

The Atlantic Council emphasizes that in this case, the current and next US administrations should restrain the Kremlin's attempts to expand its dominance. Ukraine will need to be provided with an accelerated path to membership in the European Union, and it will be necessary to expand security cooperation with Kyiv and the supply of weapons necessary to deter Russian aggression. "This implies the need for assurances from Ukraine's partners that they will continue to support Ukraine until sovereignty over every inch of Ukrainian territory is restored," the report says.

Scenario #2: Nationalists come to power in Russia

The removal of Putin and the rise to power of far-right nationalists in Russia is not ruled out. It is noted that the attempted coup by the leader of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on June 24, 2023, adds to the likelihood of this scenario.

Given the lack of resources, such a nationalist regime might prefer to freeze the war against Ukraine. Moreover, it could avoid escalation with Kyiv and the West altogether, and blame Putin for strategic failures in Ukraine.

In this case, the West should persist in maintaining and expanding sanctions against Russia, and use the seized assets of the Russian central bank to rebuild Ukraine.

Scenario #3: The establishment of a technocrat regime

A new regime led by a small number of Western-trained technocratic elites could begin implementing a post-Putin strategy. They would try to open diplomatic channels with Washington, London, Brussels, and even Kyiv. Analysts also believe that technocrats would reverse some of Putin's decisions to extend presidential terms and release some political prisoners.

Such a regime, according to the forecast, would abandon nationalist rhetoric. At the same time, while refraining from direct criticism of Putin, they would point out the mistakes that Russia has made in previous years. Such a government could decide to retain control of Crimea but withdraw from the rest of Ukraine, rejecting the dictator's announcement of annexation in September 2022.

Such a change in Russia's plan would be welcomed by many in the West, and some might even call for a second chance for Moscow, the Analytical Council believes. However, Casey Michel emphasizes that optimism about such a government should be tempered as this scenario does not necessarily imply the victory of the West's strategy, the abandonment of the annexation of Crimea, or democratic reforms within Russia itself.

Scenario 4: Democratization of the Russian Federation

This scenario could be triggered by shifts in Russia after Ukraine's victories, a cascade of Putin's failures, and general economic collapse. Russian defeats in the war could lead to mass protests both in Moscow and in the regions. The protesters would focus on decentralization of power and restoration of local sovereignty, withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, and democratization at both the local and federal levels.

According to the scenario, all these changes should happen quickly and build on the failures of neo-imperial Russia. "This outcome is one of the best the West could have imagined, and it should stimulate, encourage, and accelerate it," the article says.

In this case, it is imperative to ease sanctions, especially those related to domestic political and economic reforms, provide investigative resources so that the new Russian government can investigate the crimes of the Putin regime and its allies, and possibly return the frozen assets of the Russian central bank if Moscow pays reparations to Kyiv. At the same time, the West should be vigilant about possible neo-imperialist and revanchist rhetoric.

It is emphasized that, no matter how good this scenario may be, it is unlikely in the short and medium term.

Scenario 5: Russia's collapse

In the short term, the collapse of Russia is also unlikely. However, the likelihood of such a scenario may increase over time if Putin remains in power and the Russian economy continues to degrade.

A number of factors could lead to the collapse of the Russian Federation, from setbacks in Ukraine to economic decline and oppression of minorities. The process could begin in Chechnya if the internal struggle for Ramzan Kadyrov's successor escalates into a third Chechen war. Another option is protests in Tatarstan against attempts to suppress Tatar identity. Such movements could lead to a "parade of sovereignties" in Russia.

However, the author of the report emphasizes that this scenario with the collapse of Russia is dangerous not only for Russia itself but also for the West, which is concerned about the safety of Russia's nuclear arsenal. In this scenario, the West should focus on building multilateral and multinational coalitions to manage not only nuclear stability but also Russian instability more broadly.

At the same time, it is stated that such concerns should not hinder efforts to help Ukraine ensure Russia's defeat in the war, "The West should not refrain from supporting Ukraine because of excessive fears of Russian instability," the article says.

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