Russia has entered a new time of trouble. The economy is plunging into recession with double-digit inflation, slumping purchasing power, a crippling lack of investments, and no improvement in sight. The oil curse has struck a country of 140 million people grown accustomed to living off rising energy export revenues without reforming or working very hard. Elites have much to lose, and western sanctions are raising the stakes.
The rest of society is struggling to save a way of life that brought them more comfort and prospects than at any previous time in Russian history. In the 2000s, Russians became consumers, enjoyed it, and thanked Vladimir Putin. Now, they are petrified, caught up in the Kremlin’s war scare and fifth column propaganda against Ukraine and the West. And they are told that they had better get used to living in a besieged fortress.