It would perhaps be wise not to sing and dance over this story too early. Vladimir Putin likely has more tricks up his sleeve, such as continuing to undermine the US Dollar by trading oil in currencies other than the US Dollar, or continue hacking into the U.S. banking system — lest we also forget along with China threatening the nuclear option on it. If the Dollar becomes worthless, it wouldn’t matter how low the price of oil will go as America would be pushed into being a third-world nation like those in the Middle East where gasoline is still only 15 cents per gallon.
Oil has been the key to Putin’s grip on power since he took over from Boris Yeltsin in 2000, fueling a booming economy that grew 7 per cent on average from 2000 to 2008.Now, with economic growth slipping close to zero, Russia is reeling from sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union over its land grab in Ukraine, and from a ruble at a record low. Putin, whose popularity has been more than 80 per cent in polls since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March, may have less money to raise state pensions and wages, while companies hit by the sanctions also seek state aid to maintain spending.
“His ratings remain high but for a person conducting such a risky policy, Putin has to understand the limits of patience for the people, business and political elite,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist studying the country’s elite at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. “Putin is thinking hard how not to lose face while maintaining his support.”