Russia faces a “full-blown economic crisis” next year that will trigger a series of defaults and the loss of its investment-grade credit rating, a respected former finance minister has warned. Real incomes will fall by 2-5 per cent next year, the first decrease in real terms since 2000, said Alexei Kudrin, a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin and widely tipped to succeed Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister.
….In unusually blunt comments for an establishment figure, he also called on Mr Putin to do what was necessary to improve relations with the west: “As for what the president and government must do now: the most important factor is the normalisation of Russia’s relations with its business partners, above all in Europe, the US and other countries.”
This gets to be a little like old-school Kremlinology, but I wonder what it means when a longtime Putin ally publicly suggests that Russia needs to mend relations with the West, and do it pronto? Is this really an independent act of truth-telling? Or some kind of semi-sanctioned trial balloon designed to start shifting domestic public opinion? I suppose it’s most likely the former, especially considering this little tidbit:
Last March, the Russian leadership considered the possible consequences of sanctions against Russia in connection with the crisis in Ukraine, Civil Initiatives Committee Chairman Alexei Kudrin said….”I provided my assessment of the consequences. The president and prime minister listened to them. I simply paraphrased them and then submitted them in written form to the president’s aide,” he said.
His report included three possible scenarios for developments in connection with the enactment of sanctions against Russia, Kudrin said.
Hmmm again. This is basically noted without comment, since I don’t really quite know what to make of it.