For John, BLUF: In case you thought everything was rosy in Russia, this items suggests not so fast. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Here is the sub-headline:
With all the quiet chaos beneath the surface in Moscow, Beijing seems poised to benefit.
From the Blog The Diplomat, by Mr Nicholas Trickett, 30 March 2018.
Here is the lede plus one:
As Putin has become the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin, the country’s economic and political stagnation is drawing more and more comparisons to the Leonid Brezhnev era. Putin’s political system cannot survive the stresses imposed by major reforms needed to improve the economy, creating a deepening dependency on foreign policy in all its forms to secure legitimacy and, more importantly, money. By all appearances, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is tightening his control of the state and policy. This dynamic poses problems for the Kremlin’s most important relationship with a non-Western power.President Putin is facing some headwinds and all is not smooth sailing for him, as this author points out.
Talk of Putin and Xi’s close personal relationship is largely a matter of PR messaging at a time when Russia needs China. Positive pronouncements do little to hide the difficulty both sides have in reaching real economic agreements in particular. Recent developments in the two countries’ energy ties and shifting personal power among those in and close to the Kremlin suggest that relations with China will continue to be warmer than ever on the surface, but ever more difficult to manage as the domestic political divergence between the two grows.
Regards — Cliff