March will usher in the return of Vladimir Putin to Russian rule, as if he ever left. Putin hand picked Medvedev as his successor the "fill in" quickly changed the Constitution to extend future terms. Putin will be starting the first of what he clearly sees as two 6 years terms. The big unknown is how the Russian citizens feel about it.
The key to holding down dissent will rest with the economy. Under the Putin/Medvedev plan, oil and gas resources are critical to Russia's stability. As little as 6 years ago, the budget balancing price for oil was $50.00. (in the neighborhood of Saudi Arabia, now in the mid 70's). Today, with the expansion of government and business projects, the budget balancing oil price fro Russia is $120.00.
Military spending and activity is expanding. (As it is in China.) The Finance Ministry is sitting on over $500 B in reserves so a decent safety net has been constructed. Still, the need for high prices in Russia and lower prices here in the West will be a growing risk to the globe this Spring. Syria already has us dangerously close to a proxy war. Increased foreign reserve diversification makes taking oil off the dollar standard easier. The non-dollar oil market in Tehran is functioning away from massive boycotting. We feel Greece - and the fear of domino effect - has drawn too much attention. As we have said before, you do not get a crisis where everyone is looking. Be cautious of Russian Spring.