Putin appointed his successor to be the downfall of Russia: the former Kremlin adviser
A former Kremlin adviser said this week that crippling economic sanctions and the lack of a solid succession plan could cause Russia to collapse once President Vladimir Putin leaves office.
In an interview with CNBC Friday morning, economist and former Kremlin adviser Sergei Guriev said economic sanctions from the West have created a dire situation for the Russian economy as it remains mired in conflict with neighboring Ukraine.
Putin remains on the fence about another presidential bid in 2024 — and faces the prospect of a coup attempt from insiders wary of a recent change to Russian law that would allow him to serve until 2036, according to some in the US intelligence community. Given this reality, Guriev believes the administration is ill-equipped to emerge from its current crisis after decades of Putin’s control, which he said has created an environment of paranoia that could put the country into “North Korea on doping.”
Any future regime change, he said, could take various forms, with a revolving door likely for authoritarian leaders from military officials to ultra-nationalist strongmen with little understanding of how the state operates.
“He built the system in such a way that the system would not work without him,” Guriev said. “People around him don’t trust each other, and sometimes hate each other. So if he’s gone, the system will change somehow.”
He added, “But it won’t last exactly long, because the system is built on Putin. In the end I think the system will collapse. It could take months, it could take many years. North Korea might be on steroids. Who knows?”
Putin, currently the second longest-running European president, is under scrutiny in the West for his role in the violent suppression of dissidents and the regular mysterious disappearances of his opponents in a political environment marred by cronyism and rampant corruption.
However, Guriev said that the collapse of such a system could lead to the emergence of a leader seeking to rebuild the economy, who would then seek closer relations with the West.
Guriev’s assessment comes amid a bleak economic outlook for Russia as Ukraine’s war effort, according to international sources, appears to be failing amid heavy casualties, lack of supplies and a desperate recruitment drive to replenish front-line forces. Guriev said Putin was giving a false account of the impact of economic sanctions, adding that the Russian economy is likely to be in dire straits than the figures released by the Putin administration reflect.
“Putin’s economy has been damaged,” he told CNBC. “When you look at the numbers actually, Russia’s second-quarter GDP is 6 percent lower than the first. That’s an amazing speed for GDP. By annual measures, it’s going to be more than 20 percent.”
Support for a Russian oil price cap is starting to gain traction among the G7 leaders, and is likely to put additional pressure on the system while reducing the economic pressure that Russia has been able to exert on other European countries.