At a time when most Russians were taking a long break from politics until after the Orthodox Christmas on January 7, there has been no respite in Russia’s air operations in Syria, nor in the quarrel with Turkey. Rather than focus on the bread-and-butter issues of making ends meet, Russian policymakers seem to be instead preparing their next round of conflict escalation in an attempt to energize the populace around a new rallying cry.
The Kremlin cannot afford a sobering up that awakens the public to the stress of falling incomes and shameless corruption. So, it is working to supply another attention-grabbing crisis. The incentives for fanning violent conflicts, therefore, are greater than just “Vladimir Putin’s obsession for payback,” as Garrett Campbell recently (and accurately) described on this blog. Moscow cannot be content with than an eye for an eye, it needs a victory bright enough to camouflage Russia’s grim economic reality.
For the rest of the article, visit Brookings’ “Order from Chaos” blog.