NoonPost (Egypt): oil, coronavirus, the popularity of — three challenge, which threatened the future of Putin

Over the past five years Russia has managed to achieve great success on several levels, mainly in the field of politics and Economics, where it happened due to a number of regional and global events. They helped her to consolidate the status of one of the most influential players in the international arena.

In March 2015 after a direct intervention in the Syrian conflict on the side of the regime of Bashar Assad, at war with his people, many countries have recognized the Russian influence in the Syrian dossier, which was twisted many international problems. All this raised the status of the Russian state after years of absence in this arena in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Together with the emergence of the name of the Russian President in the headlines of all international media and the agenda of regional and global political debates regarding the Syrian dossier, grew stronger and his desire for leadership. Putin is trying to regain what it once had an Empire, collapsed in the face of corruption, weakness and dictatorship.

Note that Russia and China were the leading countries who decided to resist American ambitions to achieve world domination, especially when it became clear that the influence of the United States is weakening. Thus, according to the most publications on this subject, Moscow plays this role, focusing its attention on the foreign policy arena, in contrast to China, which pays more attention to the economic dimension, in many ways distancing themselves from the sharp regional contradictions.

This trend contributed to the strengthening of solid relations between Moscow and the Arab and other middle Eastern capitals that we’ve seen over the last three years, and even from countries considered to be traditional allies of the United States. This, of course, angered the Americans to such an extent that they have become voices of politicians, requiring these States to abandon relations with Moscow.

However, to support the view that Putin and his government has created with respect to the power of their country and the ability to turn back the clock, it was possible not for long. The reason is the first real crisis that has denied all that was stated by Moscow. We are talking about a time when because of disagreements between Russia and Saudi Arabia have collapsed oil prices. In the media, this crisis was called “price war” and was the result of economic problems in a pandemic coronavirus. Now at stake is the popularity of Putin, what could prompt Moscow to revise its foreign policy on some issues.

Oil is the most important lever of pressure

The Russian economy suffered severe disruption as a result of a price war caused by the intransigence of the positions of Saudi Arabia and Russia. As you know, if Moscow rejected the decisions taken at the OPEC meeting in March 2020, and about further reductions in the production to control price declines. She insisted that oil production should continue unabated. Ultimately, the conflict led to a record decline in oil prices. In some cases it fell below zero.

Russian oil has already survived many crises prior to a price war, since the production of the country decreased from 12 million barrels per day to only 6 million barrels, and then rose again. However, this revenue growth may not be sufficient, and the field is depleted so that threatened the future of the entire industry.

Inefficient use of oil has led to a serious crisis in the core fields of the country, especially in Western Siberia. Mining in this region has large volumes, characterized by the simplicity and the lowest cost, forcing the company to resort to mining in other fields where its cost is higher.

Moscow tried to circumvent this dilemma through a variety of strategies related to the increase in production volumes, despite pressure from countries-producers of oil, but the wind blew in a different direction: the coronavirus pandemic forced governments to close borders and suspend operations for the import and export of goods. Moreover, began to decline, the demand for oil, so in some countries it has become cheaper than water.

The difficult economic situation

Despite the fact that the Russian economy has long been faced with various problems, the consequences of a pandemic coronavirus has played a big role in exacerbating the economic situation and increased losses. The country has lost a large part of their income, which relied for a very long time, which is why the current situation can be called truly critical.

Russia’s revenues from oil sales since the crisis began with the coronavirus fell by about $ 165 billion. This is a pretty good indicator, in this connection, the government was forced to use reserve funds to Finance projects and cover the deficit caused by a reduction in receipts from abroad, not to mention the challenges the state has faced directly in connection with the pandemic.

High indicators associated with the spread of the coronavirus in the country and a big burden on the health system, the potential of which should be considered modest, contrary to government statements, had a negative impact on the state budget. Lack of funds had an impact on other sectors.

As of Tuesday, may 26, the total number infected with the coronavirus in Russia amounted to 326342 person, and the number of deaths exceeded almost 3807 cases. As expected, the number of cases of infection and deaths continue to rise, placing strain on the health system of the country.

As predicted, Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the national production will decrease by 10% in the coming period, and the era of prosperity of the Russian economy came to an end. According to him, the country will never see high oil revenues and the success of the first decade of the XXI century in the Russian history may never repeat itself.

Dreams of leadership fade away

Deteriorating economic conditions cast a shadow on the political situation as a negative influence on the situation of ordinary citizens, despite the measures taken by the President to support entrepreneurs, for example, rescheduling of loans and taxes. It is also necessary to mention the constitutional amendments that Putin approved a few months ago.

The atmosphere of dissatisfaction with the Russians is reflected in the results of recent public opinion polls concerning the level of the population support Putin’s foreign policy. As shown by a recent survey, 55% of Russians want their country left Syria, while 37% expect that Syria will become a second Afghanistan.

The results of these surveys along with deteriorating economic conditions and the subsequent reduction of the support provided to Russian forces in Syria, saying that Moscow may fully or partially reconsider its policy on Syrian territory. This is especially true in light of the continuing Iranian presence, which can indirectly compensate for Russia’s role in Syria, and as a consequence, in Libya.

This thesis is confirmed by the results of public opinion polls. According to them, a large number of Russian citizens dissatisfied with foreign adventures Putin in the year 2019. So, the level of support of Putin’s policies has declined from 60% in 2017-2018 to 42% in 2019, while 27% of the public believe the President’s actions abroad absolute failure. All the others stick to the neutral position.

The critical situation in which the Russian President can push him to revision of dreams of leadership, he was so anxious to implement. Especially now, when time to restore the power of the Soviet Union is getting smaller. Putin has to deal with three major challenges, and even if he can overcome the oil crisis, when prices will rise again, there are two more — the economic downturn and the reduction in the level of public support. All of this can change its policy on some international routes and affect regional and global alliances.