Where Is Russia’s Strongman in the Coronavirus Crisis?
Putin Lets Local Leaders Take the Credit and the Fall
In June of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, put forth his intentions to take a page from the United States’ book and pivot east. He announced ambitious plans to boost Russia’s economic growth by looking to the Asia-Pacific region rather than to its traditional markets in Europe. He proposed massive investments in infrastructure, including upgrading the trans-Siberian railway to better link his country to the Pacific. And he praised the state oil company Rosneft for concluding a major export deal with China. The speech came less than a year after Putin hosted the annual meeting of the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Vladivostok, an event billed as Russia’s official coming out party -- or coming back out party –- after decades of strategic and economic neglect of its own Far East.
The shift in economic focus might