x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's policy priorities

Putin's stand on foreign policy, the economy, democratic reforms, fiscal policy and the military.

Foreign policy

• Opposes foreign intervention in the Middle East following the Arab Spring and has warned against western or Arab-backed intervention in Syria without the blessing of the UN Security Council. He opposes sanctions against Syria.

•Opposes any military strike on Iran over its nuclear programme, and has said it would destabilise the region.

•Acknowledges the benefits of a good relationship with the United States but has accused Washington of meddling in Russia's internal affairs, whipping up anti-American hysteria.

Economy

• Wants Russia's US$1.9 billion (Dh6.9bn) economy to return to pre-crisis growth of 6 or 7 per cent a year and to become the world's fifth largest economy by the end of the decade. It is now the 11th biggest.

• Wants to increase foreign investment to 25 per cent of GDP from the current level of 20 per cent.

• Has urged Russia to find ways to cut its dependence on natural resources such as oil and gas.

Democratic reforms

• Has complained that a protest movement that has arisen among the country's urban middle class lacks a leader with whom he can negotiate.

• While he has accused the protesters of "sowing the seeds of chaos", he has struck an increasingly conciliatory tone saying that civil society has grown "more mature, active and responsible".

• Has evoked the chaos of the 1990s to justify his opposition to rapid change.

Social spending / fiscal policy

• Has made broad promises to step up spending to improve health care and infrastructure and to increase the pay of teachers, medical workers and researchers. Spending measures are expected to cost about $30 billion.

• Has said he wants higher consumption taxes and that there is room to raise duty on property, luxury goods, alcohol and tobacco.

• Has championed low inflation and a "stable" rouble exchange rate, though he has repeatedly spoken out against controls to stop capital outflows that could weaken the currency.

Military

• At the heart of Putin's military policies is a promise to spend around US$790 billion between now and 2020 to refurbish the country's fighting forces.

• Modernisation envisages a new arsenal of guns, tanks, submarines, ships and missile systems to replace rusting armaments.

• Is behind a drive to make the armed forces a smaller and more mobile fighting force able to deal with local conflicts more effectively. During Soviet times, it was trained to fight large land wars.

Ethnic policy

• Has acknowledged the dangers of nationalism in Russia, but calls ethnic Russians "the glue" holding together numerous ethnic minorities across Russia.

• Has called for tighter migration rules including exams that would test migrants' knowledge of Russian language and history.