Although Putin shows no signs of changing course on an international diplomatic level, growing civil unrest has begun to dog the Kremlin closer to home.
Sanctions, combined with the precipitous fall in the oil price, have damaged Russia's economy, sending its currency plunging along with its political standing on the global stage.
Russian government officials expect the country to enter a recession in 2015 and the economic situation is not helped by rampant inflation – at annual rate of 11.4 percent – and an interest rate hike to 17 percent introduced in December.
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More than 100 demonstrators were arrested after protests in Moscow in defense of Russian opposition activists, Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg, who were convicted for fraud in December in what is seen by their supporters as a politically motivated case.
Navalny was given a suspended sentence and attended protests that followed the conviction, defying the conditions of his house arrest. In a move bound to enflame tensions, he cut off his monitoring tag on Monday, stating on his blog that he now rejected his "illegal detention."
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Although the Kremlin was afraid of the risk posed by Navalny, Newton didn't think that he posed a great threat to the government.
"I think it's interesting that the Muscovite authorities have moved fairly quickly against Navalny, it does appear to me and that given the increasing economic stresses in Russia, the Kremlin is concerned about the possibility of this spilling over into renewed civil unrest with Navalny clearly a potential leader."
"Having said all that, and I think that Russia has all the underlying conditions for civil unrest, I would be really surprised if we saw anything remotely existential to the regime," Newton added.