South Asia and Beyond

Putin’s Well Known Fear Is Internal Upheaval: Russia Expert Rajan Menon On Navalny ‘Poisoning’

NEW DELHI: “Russia will not jump into the China column” in any Delhi-Beijing confrontation, Professor Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science, Colin Powell School for Civic & Global Leadership at the City College of New York tells StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. While there is a strong interest for the U.S., Israel and some other countries to open up the Indian arms market, Russia is very determined to keep its “reliable” position, the Senior Scholar, Saltzman Institute, Columbia University says, adding, “the Chinese have not set the Russians conditions on stopping arms transfers,” even on the S-400 air defence systems. This despite what he notes as a “solid foundation and dynamic ” between Moscow and Beijing in their strategic partnership.

On Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny being treated in a German hospital for suspected poisoning, Professor Menon says Putin has “absolutely no external security concerns,” but since at least the 2010 Moscow protests has a “well known fear of internal upheaval”. Internal opposition is “fragmented but persistent,” he notes while adding “it’s also a fact that Putin is not without domestic support.” Tracing several similar poisoning accusations, the Russia expert says, “it’s a remarkable coincidence that the President’s opponents end up being poisoned,” and notes the Navalny incident comes after the protests in neighbouring Belarus.

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Russia “is in no hurry to intervene in Belarus”, like in Ukraine, the author of ‘Ukraine in Conflict: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order’ says, adding President Alexander Lukashenko has “formidable repressive tools at his disposal and the opposition has to sustain this protest over a long period of time.” “One thing the Russians, the United States and Europe have in common is to forestall an intervention,” though some of the recent comments from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov “have not been very positive,” he says.

Amitabh P. Revi

Russian language speaker and conflict journalist. Amitabh Revi has been there, done that—from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to sublime Russia, Australia and the United States. Along the way he's picked up the Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship, the Ramnath Goenka award for coverage of the Iraq War and RT's Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria.