PERSPECTIVE / EXPERT OPINION — When Russian President Vladimir Putin came to power in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one of his promises to the people of the Russian Federation was to restore stability to Russians internally and the honor of the country abroad. The Russian people desperately needed to see both promises fulfilled after suffering the humiliation of the collapse of the Soviet Union and a chaotic and difficult period in the 1990s.
Putin was seen as having kept his promises during the first decade of the 2000s, with the Russian economy stabilizing thanks to revenues from gas and oil exports, arms sales, Putin’s consolidation of power between the hands of the Kremlin and Russian security services, and a perception among Russians that Putin ruled over the Russian mafia and oligarchs. Putin has also benefited greatly from the poor foreign policy choices of his main Western competitors, taking advantage of American mistakes to promote Russia’s image as a strong alternative to Washington and a reliable “partner” for other countries.
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