Putin's promises and threats
In his State-of-the-Nation address Russian President Vladimir Putin focussed on social justice and promised more money for families, the poor and pensioners. He also harshly criticised the US for withdrawing from the INF treaty and warned it against stationing short- or mid-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Commentators find his statements worrying.
Unsettled Kremlin boss all the more unpredictable
In view of the growing dissatisfaction in Russia Putin will no doubt continue to rely on aggression and threatening gestures in foreign policy, Der Tagesspiegel fears:
“In his speech, which was supposed to address domestic policy issues, Putin couldn't resist evoking the new 'avantgard' hypersonic missile and announcing the development of yet more weapons. At the end he even threatened to point his missiles at targets in the US if the Americans station new mid-range nuclear systems in Europe. For the time being this remains sabre-rattling for local audiences. ... But a head of state who is unsettled due to domestic affairs will become increasingly unpredictable as regards foreign policy. Russia's immediate neighbours, first and foremost Ukraine, could feel the brunt of that.”
Russia needs major change
Philosopher Igor Chubais complains in his blog for Echo of Moscow that Putin's recipe for improving conditions in the country fails to address the root of the problem:
“The catastrophic situation in the country has de facto been recognised, but no systematic changes have been proposed - meaning that the crisis will only deepen. ... Russia's problems can't be solved by pursuing a policy that leads to the anti-Kremlin sanctions being broadened and stepped up. Or in other words with a state-led, undeclared war and absurd military spending. It will be impossible to find a way out of the crisis with increasingly repressive measures against civilian and human rights activists, censorship and widespread corruption from the bottom to the top. We need systemic change!”