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How should the West deal with Vladimir Putin? Show more Show less
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power for two decades. In that time he has rebuilt Russia's military, imprisoned and killed political opponents at home and abroad, annexed Crimea, gone to war with Georgia and Ukraine, deployed troops to Syria, and plundered the country. An increasingly authoritarian figure, Putin continues to divide Western countries, how should they deal with him?

The West should ignore Putin Show more Show less

He will increasingly become an irrelevance.
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Vladimir Putin is about to retire

Vladimir Putin is opening the door towards retirement. He will increasingly become an irrelevance as a new generation takes power in Russia.
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Context

Since Vladimir Putin first became President of Russia in 2000 relations between Russia and Western countries have steadily deteriorated. Despite attempts at actively resetting relations between 2008-2010, tensions remain high, with many citing Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian style as the prime cause.

The Argument

Vladimir Putin's term of office comes to an end in 2024 when he will be 71 years old. Putin has already stated that he has no interest in dying in office like other former leaders of Russia [1] . In a shock announcement in January 2020 Putin laid out a raft of new constitutional reforms which would weaken the role of president and disperse its power across separate branches of the Russian Government and across several hand-picked protégés [2] . If enacted these reforms would see Putin honour his term-limit stepping back from power in 2024 and into some form of retirement. It would see a great deal of Putin's time between now and 2024 be taken up with retirement planning rather than foreign policy and growing tensions with Western Countries. While Putin focuses domestically, Western countries simply have to ignore him, waiting for his inevitable departure, and turn their attention to fostering links with the next generation of Russian leaders who will likely succeed him.

Counter arguments

Vladimir Putin has a record of using announcements to misdirect political opponents creating chaos so he can keep power. He previously stepped down from office in 2008 but continued to exert control over the Government and returned to office in 2012 [3] . There is no guarantee that the reforms will be enacted or that Putin is being sincere about his desire not to die in office. According to democracy activists Putin has amassed sizeable personal wealth through plundering the country [4] , which can only be protected and enjoyed through maintaining some form of control over the Government and power. Even if Putin did leave office, he could continue to pull the strings in the shadows and exert pressure on his proteges to maintain an aggressive anti-Western foreign policy.

Premises

[P1] Vladimir Putin is honest about his desire not to die in office. [P2] Vladimir Putin's announced constitutional reforms are sincere and will be enacted. [P3] Vladimir Putin will not stay in office past 2024. [P4] Vladimir Putin will not retain influence over the Government outside of political office.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Vladimir Putin is not an honest actor. [Rejecting P3] Vladimir Putin has previously returned to office after stepping down. [Rejecting P4] Vladimir Putin needs to continue to exert power over the Government after he leaves office so that he can enjoy the wealth he has amassed without fear of imprisonment or assasination.

References

  1. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/i-dont-want-to-die-in-office-i-will-have-succession-plan-says-putin-v7hsdtnxf
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/15/putin-calls-for-constitution-changes-that-would-weaken-successor
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-cables-medvedev-putin-russia
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/31/financier-bill-browder-says-vladimir-putin-is-worth-200-billion.html
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 5 Feb 2020 at 10:40 UTC