By George Friedman
Vladimir Putin has been re-elected as president of Russia. This is not the kind of Russia nor the kind of president Western liberal democrats expected when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. They wanted and expected the values and institutions of the European Peninsula to become Russian values and institutions, and expected Russia to align itself with the West.
In retrospect, it is not clear why this was expected. Russia is in many ways fundamentally different from the West, and has been so for centuries. And it hasn’t been apologetic about it. Apart from small groups of Westernizers – intellectuals enamored by the West – the Russian public has embraced, or at least accepted, Russia for what it is. This is shown by the fact that Putin is enormously popular, in spite of Russia’s economic difficulties. Western liberal expectations have been disappointed by Czarist reformers, Soviet rulers and now Putin. The problem is that liberal reformers see Russi
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