Russia, to be sure, is in crisis. But Russia has been in crisis since Peter the Great build modern Russia with one foot in Siberia and the other in Eastern Europe.
It is impossible to discern Russia’s tactical objectives; its objective, I surmise, is to keep the initiative, elicit blunders from its adversaries, and exploit them as opportunity permits. Once America lost the nerve to use force against Iran’s nuclear program, other problems in the region, notably Syria, became intractable, giving Russia the chance to insert itself as regional mediator.
It is dangerous for the United States to make plans on the premise of Russia’s internal collapse. That outcome is not to be excluded, but neither is it likely. Russia will be around for quite a while; it never will regain the position that the Soviet Union held in 1980, but it will remain a force for the foreseeable future. Washington never quite grasped that the Russians are chess players, and chess is a game in which one cannot bluff. One deals with Russia only through strength, and America’s strength is bleeding away from a series of self-inflicted wounds.