The scenario process employed during the Russia workshop in February adhered to the format of previous Iraq, Iran, and China sessions. The session was designed to facilitate open dialogue among leading Russia experts. There were no assigned roles. No papers were presented. Participants were encouraged to consider a wide range of plausible futures and challenge conventional wisdom. The objective of the session was not to predict the nature of a 2020 Russia, but rather to identify three materially different but plausible scenarios to increase our understanding of factors that could impact Russia’s future path. These scenarios were chosen to encompass a wide range of conditions, including some that are of low probability but which would be highly impactful if realized, and to challenge conventional assumptions and preferences.
The scenarios delineated in this publication are the product of a rich discussion encompassing a full range of topics and perspectives. They are not intended to be mutually exclusive. Each scenario, however, represents a dominant tendency with distinctive implications for Russia, its neighbors, partners, and rivals. They are not predictive in nature. Rather, each is a plausible picture intended to demonstrate the non-linear nature of change in Russia. The hope is that by employing this alternative scenario format and processes, we have been able to reveal challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy that might not become apparent in more traditional policy-driven debates.
Michael F. Oppenheimer
NYU Center for Global Affairs
July 20, 2010