Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Despite Drama, Russia Remains at the End of 2023 Much as It was at the Start of the Year, Shaburov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 24 – Despite the expectations of many that 2023 would bring radical changes to Russia and a surfeit of events that seemed in each case to give support to that view, the country remains more or less where it was at the start of this year now that 2023 is coming to an end, Aleksey Shaburov says.

            That is the case both in foreign and in domestic affairs, the Yekaterinburg commentator says, with the situation in Ukraine and in relations with the West not fundamentally changed over the last 12 months and with that inside Russia more or less the same as well (

            In Ukraine, he writes, “the sides remain where they were.” To be sure that is to the advantage of Russia, “but this is to a large degree potential rather than real. In reality, everything stands approximately where it was a year ago.” And the same thing is true inside the Russian Federation as well.

            There, the year began with fears of mobilization, but that didn’t happen; and what was “the main political event” domestically, the Prigozhin revolt, while it attracted much speculation about how it would change the political situation in the country, ended with everything more or less in place and Prigozhin and his core team dead.

            This continuity was highlighted at the end of the year when Vladimir Putin, as expected announced that he would indeed run for president in 2024, thus ending for all time talk about “the 2024 problem” or “transit.” Instead, this all shows that “there is no transit and cannot be and that too is an important result.”

            This same lack of fundamental change extended to the economy. It held out and there was neither a breakthrough or a catastrophe, both of which had been widely predicted albeit by different groups of people, Shaburov says. But it also means that next year is likely to be a time of more radical changes.

            The Putin regime will certainly feel it has an even freer hand after it collects its latest electoral victory, and at the very least, there will be changes in the government given that the president will then accept the resignations of the cabinet and appoint at least potentially some new people. And because of elections in the US and the UK, there will be changes abroad too.

            Summing up, Shaburov suggests, 2023 was “in a sense one large ‘operational pause.” But “like any pause, this can’t last forever” – and it is likely to come to an end in 2024.

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