07 February 2018
When the people tame the bear: could Russia become a genuinely democratic country
“What ifs’’ are a staple for those who watch foreign parts, and Russia-watchers rarely hesitate to play the game of scenario planning, too. If there is a difference, it would be in the almost unrelieved pessimism that such “what ifs” assume about Russia. The run-up to its presidential election next month is supplying a veritable doom-fest of hypotheticals.
In recent weeks, the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and other top UK officials have asked “what if” Russia were to open a new anti-Western front by using its submarines to cut undersea communications cables and “what if” Russia’s reported probing of the UK’s cyber defences were a precursor to knocking out the National Grid. One of the few hypotheticals not yet broached as 18 March, Russia’s election day, approaches is what if Vladimir Putin does not win.
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