EXPERT PERSPECTIVE / OPINION — When Russian President Vladimir Putin rose to power in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, one of his promises to the population of the Russian Federation was that he would restore stability to Russians at home, and the country’s honor abroad. The Russian people were desperate to see both of those promises fulfilled after suffering through the humiliation of the collapse of the Soviet Union and a chaotic and difficult period during the 1990s.
Putin was seen as delivering on his promises during the first decade of the 2000s, with Russia’s economy stabilizing thanks to the revenue earned from gas and oil exports, arms sales, Putin’s consolidation of power in the hands of the Kremlin and Russia’s Security Services, and a perception among Russians that Putin was reigning in the mafia and Russia’s Oligarchs. Putin also greatly benefited by the poor foreign policy choices of his main competitors in the West, taking advantage of America’s mistakes to promote Russia’s image as being a strong alternative to Washington and reliable “partner” for other countries.
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