Advertisement

Putin after Putin in Russia

By STEFAN NICOLA, UPI Europe Correspondent
Putin after Putin in Russia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) talks to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after the ceremony to light the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin in Moscow on February 23, 2010. The eternal flame was temporarily moved for three months during constructions of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and relighted today to to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia. UPI/Alexander Natin | License Photo

BERLIN, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Vladimir Putin looks to become the next president of Russia, which could result in a cool-down of relations with the United States, a senior Russia expert writes.

In another reminder that politics in Russia aren't quite normal yet, President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday fired Moscow's popular Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who had been in office since 1992.

Advertisement

Luzhkov had made the mistake of accusing Medvedev of poor leadership qualities at a time when the president is trying to demonstrate just those to boost his chances for re-election in 2012.

Medvedev's problem is that his biggest rival is Putin, the prime minister, who installed Medvedev in his post and who may now want it back.

RELATED Moscow's mayor loses his job

The two leaders have been vying for popular support during the past weeks. Putin is the traditional Russian strongman who was already an up-and-coming state official when the Berlin Wall was still standing. The younger Medvedev, on the other hand, has been educated abroad and stands for a modernization of Russia's economic and political system.

The problem is that Medvedev has never been able to emancipate himself from Putin. Their United Russia Party will select the top candidate for the 2012 presidential elections next summer and analysts say Medvedev's chances to emerge winning are slim.

Advertisement

"Hardly anyone believes that Medvedev can defeat Putin," writes Alexander Rahr, a senior Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, in his new analysis "Putin after Putin."

RELATED Power struggle pits mayor against Kremlin

Rahr earlier this month was among a selected group of non-Russian experts who met with both Putin and Medvedev for closed-door talks in Moscow.

Rahr writes that Putin gave an immensely self-confident vision of Russia's political future, including the desire to keep Russia's dominant role as Europe's energy supplier, and to regain lost political clout in the former Soviet republics.

Then, a third term for Putin could spell trouble for U.S.-Russian relations, Rahr says.

Unsolved regional territorial conflicts in the post-Soviet realm, including the ones in Georgia and Transnistria "could heat up in the busy year 2012 if Putin re-enters the Kremlin and a neo-conservative Republican replaces Barack Obama as U.S. president."

However, the analyst also revealed that Putin said he was seeing "eye-to-eye" with Obama on geopolitical security issues, including the conflict in Iran and Afghanistan. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the experts he could imagine that Russia teams up with the United States for a joint missile defense system against threats from the Middle East, Rahr writes.

Advertisement

"When global challenges arise, Russia will stand on the side of the United States and the European Union on many questions," the expert writes. "But it will also adamantly pursue its ambition of becoming a major global power."

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement