Russia: a window of danger during the coming two or three years from the economic and military perspectives
1. From the military, and notably, a NATO perspective, there is a perceived window of danger until the decisions of the Wales Summit have been implemented and Russia denied what is called escalation dominance. Until this is the case (in combination with the ongoing readjustment of defence policies in Sweden, Finland and other non-NATO states) there is a widespread perception that Russia may continue aggressive behaviour also west of Ukraine.
2. From an economic perspective, it is now evidently clear that the combined effect of restrictive policies, the lowering of the oil price and the general lack of engagement with Russia on the side of the West is having devastating consequences for Russian economy. A breaking point may come in a couple years. So far the Russian population is overwhelmingly supporting the official nationalistic policies. But this could change quickly. To quote Richard Swartz: the population may turn their attention from the television set to the refrigerator.
Would Russia in such a situation try to project even more strongly an external threat perception in order to increase unity in the country? Already the possibility of such a development must be taken into account - now.
Against this background it would seem that the overarching objective of the German and French leaderships is to gain time by trying to engage with Moscow to come through the coming period without turmoil.
The posture of the new president of the European Council Tusk, who is likely to take a strong role on the EU level, is going to be very important in this context.
Those who are trying to purely isolate Russia may be asking for real trouble from both of these perspective. Instead there is a need to engage with Russia also on the multilateral level, including notably the OSCE.
The West is strongly dependent on mutually beneficent cooperation with a stable Russia in the long run. Russia is a global nuclear power. And the humanitarian aspect is already becoming very prominent. Millions suffer in Ukraine and beyond.
To be continued - to be sure.