Not just as viewed from Europe, but now globally, there is a new Russian Enigma:
Is Russia moving towards becoming a failed state, or is it a re-emerging world power?
On one side, the country certainly managed to put Europe in disarray, following the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and the subsequent war against Ukraine in the southeastern Donbas region. As well, with armament programs are on the rise, there is worryingly lose talk about the role of its nuclear weapons. Accompanying this are unexplained moves and deliveries of materiel to Syria. Further affirming this ‘world power’ status, Russia has nuclear weapons and, by default, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
At the same time however, the economy of Russia is in a bad state: the Ruble has lost much of its value over the last 12 months and GDP is negative over the year, harmed by a low oil price and a particularly unbalanced and unsustainable economy feeling the bite of western sanctions. What’s more, there is little Russia can export besides oil, gas and armaments – certainly not the profile of a global power.
What kind of lessons can we draw from such a contradictory profile and behavior? Is it more beneficial to contain Russia, to (re)engage it, or to simply ignore it?