After his overwhelming electoral victory on Sunday in Russia, Vladimir Putin faces a series of challenges both internally and externally. Inside, the economy is the great unresolved issue, while outside its borders, the pulse with the West, especially with the diplomatic conflict with the United Kingdom over the poisoning of the ex-spy Sergei Skripal, will focus its attention to a large extent.
The economy is still the main unfinished topic in Russia, a country rich in raw materials and with strong sectors such as aerospace and arms, but late in high technologies and with a very little diversified economy. Russia also has 20 million poor people out of a population of 144 million. According to OECD analysts, without reforms, the GDP over the next twelve years will grow only around 0.7%. All this in a context of international sanctions.
The military aid that Russia lends to the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad and the separatists in eastern Ukraine is a serious drag on the Russian economy and an element of social alarm every time coffins arrive with Russian soldiers at the country’s airfields. These are tasks hard to resolve in the short term, and a failure in the triumphant prospects of the Kremlin could end up undermining the enormous support that Putin has.
Foreign policy has become for Putin a stormy sea. And not only for Syria and Ukraine, countries that generate many discrepancies with the West, but also for the siege that Russia suffers because of the action of its hackers and propagandists. The interference in the elections in the United States and in other countries is a source of tension to which the case of the ex-poisoner in the United Kingdom Sergéi Skripal and his daughter Julia have now joined.
Another challenge for Putin will be to resolve the question of his own succession. After having been devalued the usual mechanisms of power transfer, everything is ventilated in palatial intrigues. According to the Russian Constitution, the current president can not stand for a new mandate in 2024, which means that he must seek a successor, who could be the now prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, or undertake a reform of the Constitution.