News Analysis |
Vladimir Putin, the incumbent president of Russia will be inaugurated on Monday for his fourth term, at a time when Moscow is engaged in multiple conflicts on the international foray and a local crackdown on the opposition. At present, Putin, has under his belt, a vast experience and countless controversies in his 18 years of stint, as the Russian president.
The 66-year-old leader used his last term to annex Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, earning the criticism of West. Moreover, he sided with Syrian President Bashar al Assad to launch a military campaign, drawing the ire of Barack Obama and then Donald Trump.
In his next term, the president promises to improve living standards at home, though the political commentators are eyeing his enhanced role in the international chessboard. The Kremlin occupant will be facing following major challenges after Monday:
Iran Nuclear Deal
The most imminent issue Putin will be facing is the Iran Nuclear Deal which is hanging in balance. The US President Donald Trump had decertified the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in October, however, he will be making a final decision on May 12th, five days after Putin’s inauguration.
Earlier, last week, Putin and French President, Emanuel Macron, had agreed to preserve the Iran Nuclear Deal in entirety. Moreover, in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said in a joint press talk with Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any U.S. attempt to sabotage the Iran nuclear deal.
Vladimir Putin, the incumbent president of Russia will be inaugurated on Monday for his fourth term, at a time when Moscow is engaged in multiple conflicts on the international foray and a local crackdown on the opposition.
More recently in May, Vladimir Yermakov, Director General of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said that Moscow will come closer to Tehran, if Trump walks out of Iran Nuclear Deal.
On Wednesday, two days after the start of Putin’s fourth term, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call on him to discuss JCPOA. Last Monday, Netanyahu held a televised presentation about Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions followed by phone calls to world leaders, including Putin, but the upcoming meeting will clarify Kremlin’s position over the matter.
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Putin has been supporting Syrian President, Bashar al Assad, in his attempt to weed out rebels and Free Syrian Army (FSA). Though the Syria crisis stemmed out of the Arab Spring in 2011, Russia stepped in in the scenario in September 2015.
Russia, one of the biggest arms exporter in the world, came closer to Syria due to military designs. The Kremlin said it spent almost $500m on its military operation in Syria and its influence in the war theatre is still at play.
The US President Donald Trump had decertified the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in October, however, he will be making a final decision on May 12th, five days after Putin’s inauguration.
Interestingly Putin and Asad held the reins of respective countries in 2000, however, Asad’s endangered presidency cemented the ties between the two countries. The recent alleged Chemical Attack on Ghouta also prompted Moscow to throw its weight behind Asad. Last Month, three Western allies launched missile strikes on Syria; Kremlin decried the move but fell short of retaliation.
Ties With The US
Russia has been a traditional foe of United States. The cold-war rivals are carrying a bitter baggage of history and under firebrand Donald Trump, the ties are likely to remain tense.
Washington and Moscow have been on the opposing sides in the Syrian war theatre and as the civil war seems nowhere to end soon, both the countries will remain locked in a third party conflict. The issue of Russian interference in the US presidential elections can become a major challenge for Putin in his fourth stint.
Turkey-Russia Bilateral Links
On the diplomatic front, Putin will be faced with the challenge to fully restore and cement the ties with Muslim-dominated Turkey. Russia came closer to Erdogan-led Turkey in 2017 after ending two years of impasse following Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane in 2015. In December 2017, Turkey purchased four divisions of S-400 air defence systems from Russia, worth $2.5bn, however, Washington is opposing the deal.
Apparently, Russia seems to be an economically strong country, however, it is facing challenges on the domestic front. Putin has been dining with foreign investors to lure them in Russia, however, the reliance on hydrocarbon for economic growth is decreasing.
Fractured Ties with UK
Besides the US, Russian ties with Theresa May-led United Kingdom also became strained after the assault on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Moscow had expelled 60 US diplomats after the controversy and asked Britain that it has to lessen the diplomatic staff to 50, after having ejected 23 of its staffers.
As per legal injunctions, Putin will not be able to contest for fifth time in 2024; when he will turn 72. However, even after Monday’s inauguration, he will face a plethora of issues. Looking at the past of All-Russia People’s Front leader, known by its Russian initials ONF, it appears that Putin might wade through the challenges unabated.