Commentators have been surprised by the swift weakening of Russia in the wake of western sanctions and declining oil prices. One believes the events have delivered a bleak verdict on Putin’s model, while another sees them as a warning of how narrow Hungary’s own elbow room is.
In Magyar Nemzet, Anna Szabó remarks that Ukraine has been hit even harder by Russia’s difficulties than Russia itself and the West doesn’t seem to be too eager to bail out a Ukrainian government which it helped to gain power. Nor is western Europe itself unharmed, for Russia has leading EU economies among its main trade partners, including France, Germany and Italy. In an aside, Szabó suggests that unlike Hungary, these three countries have not been criticised for their close ties with Russia in general and Putin in person. All in all, however, Hungary has a lot to learn from the sight of a huge national economy being forced to its knees so fast. “It is frightening to behold just how narrow our elbow room is,” she writes.
On Mandiner, Gellért Rajcsányi sees the present economic crisis in Russia as proof that President Putin has squandered the past fifteen years since he took power, as his country still unilaterally depends on oil and gas exports, while the enormous revenues from those sales have not been used to develop other branches of the economy. He thinks recent events have proved Putin’s fans wrong, including those who in Hungary and elsewhere have seen in Russia “the rising opponent of the declining West and the rising star of the future”. He hopes that nobody in the West will now want to defeat Russia once and for all and that the spirit of openness and peaceful solutions will prevail.