What conditions will shape the run-up to the 2024 presidential election in Russia? What type of leader is likely to emerge—if, indeed, a leadership change takes place? These are the questions at the heart of the scenarios presented here and discussed first at the Munich Security Conference 2020. Our aim is not to speculate about the successor of president Vladimir Putin, and we have settled on only four basic scenarios out of a much wider range of potential outcomes. This scenario exercise deliberately selects and excludes possible factors and constellations. The logic of each scenario—and of the foursome taken together—is meant to provide a basis for forward-looking discussion.
The advantage of drafting scenarios over thinking about a grand strategy is that scenarios might provide more clarity to decision makers and experts about a subject—in this case, Russia’s alternatives and the impact of those alternatives. The aim is to provide an impetus to continue, or seriously begin, a discussion of domestic and foreign policy in and vis-à-vis Russia. This type of exercise is desirable not only in the case of Russia but for any country trying to position itself in a fast-changing economic and political environment. The stakes are high, decision makers, experts and the public have a right to debate on this important development.