Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is fond of a phrase, “the wonderful Russia of the future,” his shorthand for a country without President Vladimir Putin.
But in the year that has passed since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has gone back to a dark, repressive past.
Over the last 12 months, Putin’s government has crushed the remnants of Russia’s civil society and presided over his country’s first military mobilization since World War II. Political opponents such as Navalny are in prison or out of the country. And Putin has made it clear that he seeks to reassert Russia as an empire in which Ukraine has no place as an independent state.
The war in Ukraine drew a bright line under the period of High Putinism, a decade that began with Putin’s controversial return to the presidency in 2012. That era, in hindsight, was a prelude to the current war: Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed armed separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas region, while Putin’s technocrats worked on sanction-proofing the Russian economy.
Since last February’s invasion, Putin has shrugged off protests and international sanctions. Independent media and human rights groups have been branded as foreign agents or shut down entirely.
Russia is now in an uncertain new phase, and it’s clear there will be no rewind, no return to the status quo ante, for ordinary citizens.
So is Putin’s grip on power unchallenged? Rumors are now flying inside the country about another wave of mobilization. And in Moscow, signs of elite competition are beginning to emerge, even as some Russians are seeing through the cracks in the wall of state propaganda.
Read the full analysis here.