Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for US News and World Report on what Russian President Vladimir Putin can do to save his country’s economy from further collapse:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s problem is that he was born on third base, but thinks he hit a triple. Putin’s tenure in office has, until now, been lubricated by high oil prices that account for 60 percent of Russian exports and, along with natural gas, more than 50 percent of its budget.
Before Putin’s economic system began to melt down, oil and gas exports fueled the growth of a Russian middle class. Putin showered petrodollars on them with pension increases, wage increases to government employees and other public spending.
At his annual press conference on Thursday he said the economy would be fixed in two years. But Putin’s luck has run out. In recent weeks the combination of Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its Ukraine aggression, oil prices dropping to $60 a barrel and dubious Russian economic policies are threatening to implode the Russian economy.