Imagining Russia’s future after Putin

Think tank: Chatham House

Author(s): Duncan Allan

May 24, 2023

This report from UK think tank Chatham House looks at possible outcomes in Russia of a defeat in Ukraine.

The structure and dynamics of Russia’s future state system could take many forms and have been the subject of much analytical debate. The inner workings and decision-making processes of the Russian state are opaque and inaccessible, and challenged the understanding of Western governments even before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This briefing paper attempts to investigate how one single tightly defined scenario constructed by the author – which assumes that the phase of active conflict in Ukraine ends in Russia’s defeat and that Vladimir Putin is subsequently replaced as Russia’s president – could shape the country’s political and economic systems and its foreign policy orientation. The paper concludes that in this scenario – which is categorically not a forecast – by the end of 2027, core features of the Russian state system would be broadly recognizable on the basis of what we see in mid-2023. However, there would be considerable uncertainty, leading to a spectrum of plausible outcomes across the principal policymaking domains.