This project explores the core values and national interests within the Russian political system.

The majority of the Russian policy-making community believes that the opaque, personalised character of the Putin system will stay in place over the near-to-mid term and that core values and national interests are likely to endure for an even longer period of time.

Property, power and the coercive instruments of the state are closely connected in Russia. Institutions do not restrain powerful individuals but serve them, as does the law itself. There is neither a strong civil society, nor a civic state. Nevertheless, in Russia this system has legitimacy, and it is associated with stability, economic success and international respect.

For how long will this be the case? Will these arrangements be able to generate solutions to problems already on the horizon: energy supply deficits, the exit of talent from industry, the technological/R&D gap between Russia and new innovators, chronically dysfunctional bureaucracy and public services, the patching (but not modernisation) of infrastructure, the arrest (but not reversal) of negative trends in demography, education and health? What will be the impact of the Russia-Georgia conflict (and the 'independence' of South Ossetia and Abkhazia) on the north Caucasus? Will secessionist sentiment revive elsewhere in Russia? Will Russia's use of military power in Georgia discourage or stimulate newly independent states seeking an independent course? Will the impact of the conflict make Russia any more or less able to cope with the seemingly inexorable rise of China? What are the geopolitical implications of the financial crisis for Russia and its neighbours? How will the country adapt (or if it cannot adapt, fracture) when it is put under further stress?

Over the near-to-mid term, we will be considering how these factors will affect:

  • The institutions and processes of political, economic and foreign policy making;
  • Prospects for economic modernisation and diversification;
  • The evolution of Russia's business culture; the relationship between big business, the state and the global economy;
  • Prospects for reforming the bureaucracy;
  • Prospects for the rule of law;
  • Relations between the federal centre and the regions;
  • Prospects for the emergence of political opposition;
  • The relationship between internal and external policy, with particular emphasis on geo-economics (the use of economic resources for political gain);
  • The means of influence (over neighbours) and engagement (with the West and with international bodies);
  • The means and ends of Western influence.

A book by Bobo Lo, Russia and the New World Disorder, will be published in early 2015.

More on the Promise and Realism in Relations With Russia