In order to understand the development in Russia, it is necessary to see the domestic and foreign policy developments and constellations in the overall picture.
On the one hand, the fact that Erdogan-Turkey and Putin-Russia have established themselves as regulatory powers in Syria and Libya, Putin personally connects the Crimea through new infrastructure projects such as the new railway line and thus as a politically successful statesman, at the same time Trump , the EU and Merkel are accepting this. At the same moment, Russia´s foreign minister Lavrov is also proposing a UN reform with India’s admission to the UN Security Council, in the hope that alongside BRICS and SCO there will be a Primakov BRI-Eurasian bloc against the West in the UN.
That the State of Union Adress will be accompanied by the announcement of constitutional reform and a government reorganization. isn´t surprising at all. Putin has also achieved one goal: The western media only talk about the reorganization of the government and go to Kremlastrology without mentioning the planned constitutional change, which makes the State Council under Putin much more profoundly the new center of his power, from which he is the unelected chief behind the pseudo-democratic government reorganization and will continue to govern behind the associated pseudodemocratic opera facade . And what does the facade of the new government look like?
Given that the new prime minister appointed is a capable and apparently reasonably clean tax collector and financial expert as well as some technocrats, western observers consider this to be the core and praise democratic and modern reforms. It is an innovation that parliament can now also appoint the Prime Minister and some ministers. There is no denying that digitalization experts and technocrats are also moving up, but their decisions and space for investments or funds for modernization are decided by other players.
But above all, and first of all, Putin is concerned with maintaining a stable core state and deep state that leads everything. Be it through his chairmanship of the soon-to-be redefined State Council or the fact that the Defense Minister and Foreign Minister are not appointed by Parliament, and the role of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank remains unaffected. Putin wants to maintain foreign security and financial stability as a continuity. Lawrow´s and Schoigu´s foreign and defense policy have proven to be successful, just as the Ministry of Finance and the central bank successfully managed the financial crises in 2008 and 2014/15 for the state budget and did not have to borrow from abroad or at the IMF with foreign interference, as Yeltsin planned at his end before he was replaced by Putin because of his economic privatization disaster under the US economist Jeffrey Sachs and the lost war in Chechnya.
In terms of content, institutions and personnel, this is the continuity that Putin wants to establish and also anchor in the long term. Digitization and modernization are not dismissed per se, but neither do they enjoy top priority. The main thing is the foreign policy and financial stability of the state budget so that he can pay reliably the income of state officials. Siloviki, the security apparatus and their family members. Pension reforms, wage cuts, and social cuts among the normal population play a less inherent danger because he first has an eye on financial stability for the state apparatus and its security forces, which can also suppress any uprisings and protests and do not become rebellious because of a lack of salary and switch the side . Putin sees this hardcore of the state as the real sovereignty of Russia, which is supposed to reliably be maintained and by this the nation-state can survive through all the turmoil of the globalized world. Also good to read the following contribution by the Carnegie Foundation:
The Ministry for Economic Development, along with all modernization and digitalization technocrats, is given an opportunity, but not as a top priority or a major concern. As far as Putin’s concern is to have a hard and continuously stable state core, the medium and long-term danger is that he can generate a backlash in government revenues by underestimating the importance of digitalization and modernization of the economy and the state. which then undermines the hoped-for hardcore of the state.
A Russian friend criticized this:
” Well, as I wrote you once or more times he is not the only one making decisions. Three stage elites + not very legal forces + new challenges after turn to the west. And he made the best decision proposed to him some years ago: return home! That time it was premature this time he has chosen himself out of his own choice.He has postponed this decision as long as possible. Without American provocation “around Crimea” and betrayal of Ukrainian elite which tried to “sell” Crimea to three parties simultaneously (!!!) the impetus on economic development would have come much earlier.At least some experts see it like this… “
Of course, Putin cannot rule without a network of supporters and elites. But at the moment he is right the center man especially if he is reorganizing the state by the State Council. He also doesn´t see this as a major question of his personality but wants to push reforms that create a stable longterm structure by the State Council where his idea can survive by a successor or the structure. I already many times pointed out that Putin is not Xi, but to say that Putin isn´t the most important figure in Russia and that his reforms don´t want to create a longterm structure which a chosen successor can use is also an underestimation of Putin.