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Putin's Decline and America's Response

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Russia's regime has gone through a major aggravation during the first year of President Vladimir Putin's second term. The regime suffers from serious over-centralization of power, which has led to a paralysis of policy making. Putin's power base has been shrunk to a core of secret policemen from St. Petersburg. Although his popularity remains high, it is falling. Neither unbiased information nor negative feedback is accepted. As a result, the Putin regime is much more fragile than generally understood. Russia's current abandonment of democracy is an anomaly for such a developed and relatively wealthy country, and it has made Russia's interests part from those of the United States.

In this new Policy Brief, Carnegie senior associate Anders Aslund asserts that the United States should not hesitate to promote democracy in Russia, while pragmatically pursuing common interests in nonproliferation and energy.