To of institutions too. But as we all know

To discuss
improving relations with the West or “Westernization” in the post-Putin era, in
my opinion, it is necessary to briefly examine the background of Russia’s policy-making
and decision-making processes and to combine what we have discussed in the
class. If we are going to talk about the possible changes in domestic policy
and its affects on relations with the western world, the government may still face
the same essential question that Mikhail Gorbachev faced 3 decades ago, when he
embarked on Perestroika. Today Russia’s political circumstances no longer has
any ideological superstructure so, cannot be compared with the communist system
of USSR. But the impasse remains the same. Radical modernization may have such
a disturbing effect on a seemingly stable political structure; which in turn
makes it impossible to control the outcome of the reforms. That can be called
as a nightmare for the political elite, which is directly linked to “political
will” hypothesis. For a liberal member of the economic bloc to take over the
administration of the country, suggests there may be economic change of
institutions too. But as we all know radical economic reforms are impossible
without political reforms. After Putin-Medvedev tandem, a big question arises:
How to make a political reform, in which aspects? Of course, it is not hard to
predict that Russia is likely to lack the image of a strong and stabilizing
politician as Putin.  For instance,
Putin, in his annual “Message to the Federal Assembly” in December 2012, barely
mentioned the outside world. He said: “They (Russians)
should look to patriotism, not Westernism; to solidarity, not individualism; to
spirituality, not consumerism and moral decay.” He touted Russia’s historic
roots and traditional values as the basis for its future trajectory.  On the other
hand, many of Russia’s most influential people, including some associated with
the Power Vertical, are convinced that a more democratic political system will
better enable Russia to actualize its huge economic potential and reach
transparency and a well-established democracy throughout the state. I would be
more on this side.   As I stated
above, some members of Russia’s contemporary ruling elite realized that Moscow
could not force its neighbors to surrender their sovereignty and live under
Russian rule the way they did under the USSR. On the other hand, a liberal
Russia would have a significant and benign impact upon neighboring countries.
In case of an expanding Russian democracy, there would be a marked improvement
in U.S.-Russia relations, making security cooperation on a range of matters
plausible. For example, this could be an agreement covering the deployment of
the American antimissile system in Europe; curbing the proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction (WMD); upgrading the New START Treaty (2010); resolving
crises through the UN like those pertaining to Syria and Iran’s sectarian
expansionism; stabilizing a post U.S. 2014 Afghanistan; and moving toward
Russia’s membership in a new Euro-Atlantic security system may pave the way for
normalization with the West.   According to my
hypothesis, main obstacles the new liberal Government will face are: 1-    
Annexation of Crimea, Donbass2-    
Need for
structural/institutional reforms, Democratization3-    
Another Conflicts that Russia
Involved 4-    
Demographical, Cultural
Diversity Inside Homeland 1-    
Annexation of Crimea, Donbass According to the
generally accepted view, the continuation of the annexation of the Crimea by
Russia is going to bother Russia both in political, economical terms in the
post-Putin era. So, to put it more clearly, the West will continue to exert
pressure on Russia to stop the annexation. Economic sanctions, cancellation of
international agreements and many problems will continue to put new Russian
administration into a difficult situation. In this case, there will be two
options in front of the new Liberal government. These are;
ending the Russian military presence in Crimea and Donbass unconditionally or
finding a solution for the issue by using diplomacy in a peaceful way.
Regarding to political will hypothesis, at this stage of the game, we need to
measure “how determined the new Liberal president is”. Ending the annexation
may result in normalization of relations with the western states but at the
same time it means stepping back from tradition of Russian decision making.
That does not sound reasonable much. But if we look from the viewpoint of the second
option, by taking into consideration there is a reformist liberal government in
Russia, opening bilateral negotiations with Ukrainian government with
observation of western states is more reasonable to settle the conflict.     2-    
Need for structural/institutional
reforms, Democratization During the Putin
administration (1999-2018), all previously independent state institutions have
been emasculated; their authority and autonomy dramatically reduced. The system
of institutional checks and balances has been replaced by the ultimate arbiter;
and this process was accompanied by the deliberate fragmentation of
corporations and agencies (particularly security and law enforcement units).
Simultaneously a new system of “corporate checks and balances” has been created.
Because the system is stripped of autonomous players invested with distinct
authority, it cannot draw on established patterns of response to emerging
problems. Instead every problem requires “manual management” and direct
involvement by the supreme leader. Also, corruption and bribery spread to the
whole state institutions, like the other authoritarian regimes. Also, he will
leave behind a highly powerful and deeply entrenched inner circle. We are
talking about a powerful group of business/banking tycoons with who have
accumulated enormous wealth and clout during Putin’s tenure. Keeping them in
place would be deadly for our liberal president, but challenging them would
mean destabilizing the country; it could be highly risky for the top leader and
would likely cause a fierce political struggle. But whatever the
case, if the new Liberal administration wants to integrate Russia with the
Western norms, this is a significant issue to deal with. Separation of powers
and a consolidation of political institutions are two essential changes to do
in the way of “western” democratization. 3-    
Another Conflicts that Russia
Involved  The new
administration needs to find a solution frozen conflicts issue too (Abkhazia,
Transnistria, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh). While this may not be like
finding definitive solutions but relations with this frozen conflict areas need
to be carried out within the concept of soft power. In these crises, as opposed
to the armed struggle in Ukraine, it needs be overcome with a masterful
diplomacy in post-Putin era in order to establish/maintain good relations with
the West.  4-    
Demographical, Cultural
Diversity Inside Homeland This may sound
like the most unimportant obstacle, but that needs to be taken into consideration
while discussing a “change” in political system especially in a country that is
economically superior, has a high population and has the world’s largest
surface area. So, the highly varied structure of the regions, despite the
appointment of governors of them by the Kremlin, will be an obstacle to the
implementation of new “liberal” political and economic program in order to
achieve “a major change”. To achieve a common, nation-wide consensus about a
political or an economic change seems hard to be possible in a short term. For Westernization
means something quite different in big cities than it does in an independent,
resource-rich region like Siberia, in the impoverished Russian Far East or in
the Muslim-dominated northern Caucasus. With having hundreds of millions of
peoples from different ethnical, cultural and religious backgrounds a major
change in both political and economic area is a hard choice for policymakers
and the change depends on their political will, because the fact that such a
breakthrough has not been made in the history of the world, brings the mystery
of its consequences.   SCENARIO 2  I would choose
to examine the increase of Russia’s international capabilities after Russian
military reform in the framework of intervention in Syria. As it is well known,
Russia announced significant reforms of the Russian Armed Forces in October
2008. Although the first effects of this reform were seen in the Russian –
Ukrainian war in 2014, in Crimea, Russian troops (which Russia has denies
using) proved that Moscow can use highly trained and disciplined soldiers to
execute a swift, effective campaign, one which resulted in the seizure of a
large territory. And in Syria, Russia demonstrated a significant growth in its
capability to project force far from its borders, as well as tangible changes
to its arsenal. Therefore, I think intervention in Syria is worth more
investigation because it is the first breakthrough of Russia in the Middle East
which aims to change the balances of power in the Middle Eastern region. Also,
after such an intervention in Ukraine, actions in Syria proved Russia’s efforts
to take a more active role in world politics. If we compare Russia’s role in
the multipolar world in 2013 with today, it is gradually growing. Speaking of the
effects of the operation in Syria and military reform, the operation in Syria
has clearly demonstrated success in the military reform and the aspiration to
strengthen Russia’s position in the international community. The operation aimed
to support the friendly government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and respond
to the threat of radical groupings, such as the Islamic State terrorist
organization. Although relatively small in scale, the operation has highlighted
some major improvements in Russian military capabilities. Compared to the 2008
Georgia War, which was the last time the Russian Air Force operated in a combat
environment, the Russian military appears to have made great strides in
operational tempo and inter-service integration. The operation has also showcased
Russia’s recently developed standoff strike capability and demonstrated
significant advances in its ability to carry out expeditionary operations. The
operation in Syria has also highlighted advances in integration among the
branches of Russia’s military. This was one of the goals of military reform
undertaken after notable failures were revealed during the war in Georgia. In
order to improve inter-service coordination, the Russian military reorganized
its regional command structure so that all non-strategic military units in each
military district were placed under the direct authority of that district’s
military commander. The fruits of military reform can be clearly seen by investigating
the intervention in Syria. When we come to
measurement of changes in Russia’s power, respectively, some preliminary
difficulties arise. Attempts to ‘measure’ Russia’s power is often complicated
by a lack of reliable data. This is particularly evident in any analysis of
Russia’s military power or of Russia’s defense industry, with crucial data
remaining classified. Despite this, I would recommend my team to investigate
changes in Russia’s military economy data, usage of media both in-state and
international area in order to examine how does Russia consolidate its people
and how to persuade the international community about its activities/operations
taking place outside its borders. Also, what instruments does Russia plan to
use while forming a “new” balance of power in the Middle East (collaborating
with regional powers like Iran, using proxy armed/civil organizations and so
on). 

Finally, to summarize, the analysis and
contribution to the formation of the report would contain a summary of why
military reform has been made, what are the consequences of the 2008 military reform
and its instances by referring Russia’s actions outside of its borders; my
team’s investigations on military data, media factor, and instruments which
Russia used to maximize its power both in Middle East and international scene
that increase Russia’s bargaining power and also international capability.

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