Will Russia become a superpower? Part 2/2

In the first part of Russia's geopolitics we talked about the external objectives of the Kremlin, and how these objectives shape Russia's foreign policy. Equally important are Russia's internal dynamics, and the answer to this is connected with the historic decisions that transformed Russia into a centralized autocratic empire. As unpleasant that empire was, that is how Putin's administration is governing the country today. Even though a decentralized Russia which endorses freedom and liberty can theoretically exist, the last and only time Russia attempted to form a democratic and free society was during the Yeltsin era in the 1990s. That era is remembered for the great economic depression, massive urban migration and the nationalist religious secessionist movements in North Caucasus, which nearly broke Russia apart.

For the Russians, this was evidence that Western values and principles could not work in Russia. So when Putin first came to power in the year 2000, he consolidated his position among the oligarchy, and slowly changed the country back to a centralized bureaucracy. One of the first things he did was to return the Russian intelligence network to its prime position in the political system. He merged the Border Guard Service with Federal Security Service. He basically raised an army of a quarter of a million people for the intelligence apparatus. Then he further centralized the whole system by placing the FSB direct under the control of the president. Putin then moved to nationalize companies such as Gazprom, Rosneft and United Aircraft Corporation, and used these companies for geopolitical means. If this sounds familiar, that is because Russia is returning to its historic authoritarian method of governance. And in this context we will look at the critical objectives within Russia.