As the Russian president faces his end-of-year press conference, the new challenge of the Biden administration is coming into view.
Putin Faces Grilling After a Rough Year
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts his annual end-of-year press conference today, a chance for Russian and international media to put one of the world’s most powerful men on the spot.
Like most world leaders in a pandemic year, Putin has had a mixed 2020. On the positive side of the ledger, he succeeded in making changes to Russia’s constitution—allowing him to run for two more terms as president if he so wishes. Russia also continued its opportunistic foreign policy in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, proving kingmaker in the latter conflict.
Other developments cast a shadow, however. Falling oil prices depressed the country’s economy and could spell more trouble if global demand remains low. Months of protests in Belarus against President Aleksandr Lukashenko showed the weakness of a key ally. Closer to home, a challenge to Moscow’s leadership in the southeastern city of Khabarovsk over the summer revealed that all is not well on the country’s periphery.
Still out in the cold. The poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, allegedly carried out by Russian security forces, won’t make it any easier for the West to accept Russia back into the fold. International sanctions will likely persist.