Russia – national survival, tradition, patriotism

‘Patriotism is love of one’s country. Nationalism is hatred of others’ – Putin

In the 1990’s Russia suffered severe economic conditions, chronic corruption, a protracted Islamist insurgency, and the real prospect of national disintegration. Russia’s critical infrastructure, oil and gas interests were in private hands. The military was dramatically shrunk, poorly led, poorly trained, and poorly equipped. The country was largely controlled by the ‘oligarchs’ or crony capitalists who had enriched themselves from the spoils of the former USSR. Life expectancy was low and social and economic indicators placed Russia as a second world country. Russia’s two primary concerns therefore were and are economic growth and sovereignty.

In the country there were broadly two factions. A pro-western faction representing the Oligarchs and a handful of Western sympathisers, and a nationalist faction representing the military, security services, and much of the Russian heartland. Putin won the Presidency representing the nationalist faction. Medvedev won the Prime Ministership representing the pro-Western faction. For the last 15 years the two leaders have maintained national stability. Putin has balanced both factions while expanding the influence of his own by…

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