A regime change project in Russia was launched on Sunday with the return of political activist Alexei Navalny to Moscow. It was a highly symbolic event — except that Navalny was travelling by an aeroplane from Germany and not in a sealed train.
Navalny’s rebranding from an obscure rabble rouser to an international celebrity through the past 5-month period is apparently complete. And the timing of his arrival in Moscow is perfect. Moscow had forewarned that he’d be detained for interrogation, being on the wanted list. And this while the Biden Administration is hitting the ground on coming Wednesday, raring to go.
The presidential elections are scheduled to be held in Russia in March 2024 and the next couple of years will be crucial for the Kremlin politics. The big question is whether President Vladimir Putin would seek another six-year term or not.
Putin keeps everyone guessing. Another term as president is his for the asking, as his popularity continues to soar, built on a solid record of achievements in consolidating Russia’s comprehensive national power, steering the country’s resurgence on the world stage and enhancing its international prestige and ensuring the global strategic balance.
Putin is the anchor sheet of the Russian boat. Unsurprisingly, he makes a formidable adversary for the US. The Russian analysts expect Biden to turn the US-Russia-China triangle to Washington’s advantage by engaging China and isolating Russia. Basically, in Biden’s world view, China is a competitor but is pragmatic and open to deal-making, and will remain neutral in the US’ confrontation with Russia.
Generally speaking, Biden and the Obama-era officials who comprise his national security team are rooted in their belief that the Russian power calculus is inherently fragile. From such a perspective, Navalny’s return to Russia becomes a moment of truth. The coming weeks would show the extent of popular support he actually enjoys.
The outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lost no time to issue a strongly worded statement on Sunday regarding Navalny, demanding his “immediate and unconditional release” while also taunting Putin indirectly as an insecure leader. How far Pompeo contrived to create a precipitate situation for the incoming Biden administration we do not know. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out.