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Russian police officers harass a teenager during a rally against increasing the retirement age, St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Valentin Egorshin).

Popular Discontent Is Rising in Russia, and Putin Doesn’t Have an Answer

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018

In the wake of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014, the United States embarked on a two-pronged policy of sanctions and isolation to punish Moscow. At the time, some Russian analysts predicted it would be impossible to isolate Russia, and that those seeking to do so would only isolate themselves. That has proven to be right in more respects than those analysts and the Kremlin may have realized.

While Russia has suffered significant economic harm from the U.S.-led international sanctions regime—a collapse in the ruble, near stagnant GDP growth, exclusion from international credit markets—it has nonetheless expanded its exports, deepened cooperation with other energy-producing states, and turned to China, the Gulf Arab states and other lenders to finance ambitious infrastructure projects at home. In this sense, Russia is hardly isolated from the wider world, even as the Kremlin cultivates a “fortress Russia” mentality to prop up its own domestic political support. ...

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