The Kremlin’s Unusual Silence

The problems for Russia's central government keep growing, but the leadership seems reluctant to act.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to New York this week for the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly, reportedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Putin’s annual television program and Q&A show, which usually happens in June but was postponed this year, also will not occur in 2020 – because of the pandemic. In general, the Russian president has limited himself lately to vague decrees and brief comments, usually in online interviews. It’s easiest for the Kremlin to blame the pandemic for Putin’s relative absence from the spotlight, but Moscow is under pressure from many directions, and the virus is just the best distraction. There’s the instability in neighboring Belarus, Russia’s most important buffer and its last remaining ally to the west. There’s the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which threatens to bring down new sanctions against the Kremlin and endangers the future of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is important for the Russian economy. There are unending protests in Khabarovsk and, of course, the economic impact of COVID-19 and the fall in oil prices and consumer demand. The pandemic has strained governments the world over, but what’s interesting about the Russian case is […]

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Ekaterina Zolotova
Ekaterina Zolotova is an analyst for Geopolitical Futures. Prior to Geopolitical Futures, Ms. Zolotova participated in several research projects devoted to problems and prospects of Russia’s integration into the world economy. Ms. Zolotova has a specialist degree in international economic relations from Plekhanov Russian University of Economics. In addition, Ms. Zolotova studied international trade and international integration processes. Her thesis was on features of economic development of Venezuela. She speaks native Russian and is fluent in English.