Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Andranik Migranyan about Trump and U.S.-Russia relations.
Editor’s Note: National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Andranik Migranyan, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (an academic institution run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) about why “Trump is not the solution. He is the problem in U.S.-Russia relations.”
JH: Were you expecting Vladimir Putin to announce once again that he would run for the Russian presidency—or were you surprised?
AM: I was not surprised. Even a year or two years ago, I knew that he was going to run. He is a man on a mission. He has not accomplished his mission. I hope that he is going to accomplish it during his next six-year term.
JH: What is the mission?
AM: In 2012, right on the eve of the elections, the previous elections, I together with a small group of political scientists had a meeting with him outside of Moscow. He talked a lot about the steering of the governmental machine, and when you are manually steering it. His idea was that in such a large country, you can’t manually steer everywhere. Instead, you need to have well-established and developed institutions. This is my memory of that meeting–he said he’ll be satisfied if institutions will work and he will not have any problems when he leaves. He feels sure everything will work in a proper way when he leaves. That’s why for me it’s not a surprise. This mission he has not yet accomplished. I hope this is the problem he will address in the six years.
But in Russia today, there isn’t a succession plan. On the contrary, power is centered around Putin with no real plan for the future. How do you alter that?
AM: He wants to transfer from personalistic to institutional power. How do you do that? This is the most important and difficult task. I think he will try to go in way of redistribution of power between executive and legislative. Who knows? There might be some changes in the constitution.
JH: What kinds of changes to the constitution?