Russian moves against Ukraine and Georgia have been beaten back, and the U.S. Secretary of State (a woman?!) is giving assurance of their imminent NATO admission. Russia has been exposed as being wholly without credible allies, including China.
The price of oil has fallen by two thirds, and the Russian currency and stock market have collapsed right along with it, obliterating the insane fantasy propagated by the Kremlin that Russia was “resurgent,” a “safe haven” and an alternative to the United States.
And now, the economic crisis is causing its first round of really intense pain on the street of Russia. The Kremlin, blindsided by this tsunami of failure, does not yet have in place the means of equally intense social repression to control the reaction of the population, nor has it finalized its set of scapegoats.
And so it is panicking. This is the time for Russia’s opposition to move with speed and boldness to directly confront the Kremlin and consolidate a foundation of power it can use when the next elections roll around, and use more importantly as a shield from the Kremlin’s most desperate acts of violence, visited most recently upon the hero Stanislav Markelov.
Now is the time.