Russia seems to have emerged from years of hibernation to wake up with a roar after a lull following its transitions from communism to liberalism. From its ancient history it was a source of fear to European powers, some of the events can be date to its attempted invasion by Napoleon and Hitler. After the Second World War, it was the turn of the USA to see it as a threat to its domination because unlike communist China it had the nuclear power that could destabilize the whole world.
Today, Russia is back again on the world stage with force, ready to stand up to the West, particularly the USA. Its economy is doing well compared to the Soviet era when even getting basic commodities like bread meant standing in long queues for hours. Now Russia is buzzing with new economic activities making the Russians feel in their best times after years of miserable communism in which there was scarcity of personal freedom and access to basic commodities. Russia is now more an open society, although democracy in it still has the flavour of Stalinism. Russians seem to like a strong leader as Western style democracy is of second importance compared to that of good life.
Russia today has more weapons to confront the West. It has the weapon of oil and gas on which Europe is heavily dependent. It is starting to modernise its army while being one of the biggest suppliers of weapons in the world.
So Russia under whatever political regime will be of concern to the West because historically it has rarely allied itself with a foreign country. Russia had tsars, followed by communist leaders – the most notable of which are Lenin and Stalin- now it has democratically elected leaders – from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin. But it remains the country that seeks opportunity to come back with force. It had weak and strong moments. The fall of communism and its replacement by liberalism was a moment of “introspection” and “faux pas”.
Today, Russia is seen by many as the new force that can create a new geopolitical balance worldwide. Russians, like any strong powers, are after their own interests. Their new liberalism is an excuse to disengage from old style propaganda. Russia isn’t seeking to topple the regimes of the world but simply to have a strong hold on the world stage. Like a (solitary) bear, it likes to keep roaming on its territory without allowing any foreign invasion. This explains why the USA likes to have a NATO army at its door without seeking to set foot in it because Russia, despite its old army in terms of equipments, still has the strong arm to defend itself.