Foreign Policy Blogs

Russia: Medvedev and Putin Sitting in a Tree…

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On March 2, 2008 Dmitry Medvedev won Russia's presidential election with just over 70% of the vote. He is scheduled to take over the Presidency on May 7, with Russia's current President, Vladimir Putin, taking over as Prime Minister. This new alignment for Russia's government raises many important questions for Central Asia and for the world at large:

How powerful will Mr. Medvedev really be? How powerful will Mr. Putin remain? Will they each garner influence in different spheres, with Medvedev being in charge of domestic issues and Putin maintaining his hold in foreign policy and grand strategy? Will the new administration have a new outlook toward the world and its neighbors, or will it be just "more of the same?" Will this new administration's policies toward Central Asia change/evolve? Will Central Asian states' policies change toward Russia?

These are just some of the relevant questions that will be examined on this page. As of right now, I would just like to make a curt, overall assessment of Medvedev's rise, Putin's switch, and Russia's current and future policy toward Central Asia and beyond.

It can safely be assumed that Putin will retain a great amount of power in Medvedev's new government and it is important to note that Putin can regain the Presidency in 2012. Putin already plans to represent Russia at next month's NATO summit in Romania and has laid out an ambitious economic and political program for the country for the next twelve years. Medvedev has even already stated that he hoped to work in an "effective tandem' with Mr. Putin. However, BBC reporter Bridget Kendall correctly argues that Russia has never comfortably had two "tsars' in charge at one time. Kendall also notes that during Putin's first year in office he appeared rather modest and awkward, much like Medvedev seems presently, but quickly turned into the strong-willed and powerful leader we see today. It is extremely difficult to predict how the power will swing in the Kremlin under this new political alignment.

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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