At this time, there is no indication that the Kremlin is actively searching for a replacement for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the Russian government has been criticized for its policies in Ukraine and beyond, Putin’s popularity remains high among Russians, and he is widely expected to seek re-election in 2018.
It is possible, however, that the Kremlin may be preparing for the eventuality of Vladimir Putin’s departure. Putin is 65 years old, and after leading Russia since 2000, it is likely that he will step down at some point. Reports have suggested that the Kremlin is keeping tabs on potential successors, but it is unclear how serious these efforts are.
There is no doubt, however, that the Kremlin will want to ensure that any successor to Putin is seen as a continuation of the policies he has pursued. As a result, it is likely that the Kremlin will be searching for a figure who can maintain the status quo and protect Russia’s interests in the region. Such a figure might come from the ranks of Russia’s current leadership, or it could be an outsider.