Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ep. 39: What comes after Putin? Assessing the future of US-Russian relations
[transcript of a Defense One radio program]; original article contains links; on Lukashenko-Putin, see also

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This week we’re going to take a look at Russia and the future of the U.S.-Russian relationship, in three chapters:

After Putin (at the 1:30 mark);
Before Putin (17:14);
Now what (28:16).

It’s an investigation that will take us to a battle against the Mongols 639 years ago — ahead to Putin’s “zoo” of scary long-range weapons unveiled last year, and all the way forward to the challenges that come well after the Department of Justice’s Trump-Russia probe here in 2019.

Our guests this week include Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington; Mark Galeotti, Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London; Pavel Podvig, a physicist trained at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology; and Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Our music is by Terry Devine-King, Barrie Gledden, Richard Lacy, David Kelly, Helen Jane Long, Philip Guyler, Tim Garland and Sam Wedgwood — via ...

Below is a transcription of this week’s episode: ...

So what does come after Putin — a man who has variously been in charge of Russia as either President or Vice for the duration of the 21st century? What in the world could come after that? ...

Carpenter: “Well the succession plan is very much in the forefront of the thoughts of the Moscow elite, as you can imagine. They’ve been thinking about this for almost ever since Putin was elected, if you will, selected as president in 2000. And one of the scenarios that’s being talked about now, because of course, Putin is up against his two-term limit in 2024, and so how is he gonna circumvent that? And one of the scenarios that’s being floated is that if Russia undertakes an anschluss, an annexation of Belarus and creates this union state of Russia and Belarus, which exists on paper but not in practice, that as president of this new union state, Putin could serve another two terms after 2024. So a lot of people are really worried. In Minsk, they’re exceptionally worried ... I was in Belarus in November and had a meeting with [President of Belarus Alexander] Lukashenko. And my sense is that he’s very worried. Look, he’s a dictator; he’s not exactly a nice guy. ...

Yeah, he’s not a great brander. Or a public diplomacy [JB emphasis] strategist. But he’s trying to these institutions and put in place people who are more loyal to him or at least those parts of the nomenclatura there who are more pro-Belarusian sovereignty and less sort of subservient to Russia. And that’s a real thing that’s happening. ...

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