With Russia’s ostensible interference in America’s 2016 presidential elections, increasing questions are being raised as to what Moscow’s long-term aims might be all about.
While most observers may have forgotten, the “pre-Russian” Soviet Union was considered a co-world “superpower,” along with the U.S. from 1945 to 1990. But it took the Soviets’ last “President,” Mikhail Gorbachev to realize that Russia was incapable of maintaining an economic hold on an expanded Russia. Despite its nuclear power, Eastern European satellites, and several Islamic republics, Russia was attempting to duplicate the economic versatility and military strength of the U.S. This was In anticipation of a showdown with the U.S., which had already come close to a military confrontation in the late 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, and early 1980's.
It took the courage of President Mikhail Gorbachev to literally “break up” the Soviet Union, shed such republics as Ukraine, and the Caucasus nations, etc, and attempt to “democratize” the residual Russian nations.
In doing so, he was willing to shed the mantle of “Communism,” give power to the new nation’s parliament “DUMA,” and resist a counterpoint by a military rebellion. In doing so, he turned the presidency of the new Russian nation over to a democratic leader, Boris Yeltsin, who attempted to invoke a Western-style Parliamentary regime, over the new Russia. Unfortunately for this new democratic Russian style, it was beset by the fragmented weaknesses, but none of the strengths of a Western-style republic.
After a decade of the latter 1990's failed attempt, Yeltsin turned the presidency over to his relatively unknown Vice President, Vladimir Putin, a former head of the Soviet Union’s Secret Police (KGB). This brought in today’s Russia on New Year’s eve in 1999. Although today’s well-known patriarch has put an end to the New Russia’s attempt at Western-style democracy, Russia has since taken on the power structure that is increasingly reflective of the dictatorial strength of modern dictatorships. In doing so, Putin has expanded Russia’s Western borders, both in the Ukraine, and its substantial Caucasus borders.
The Putin “success” reflects a Russia that is being respected and/or feared by most of the European democracies; a close friendship with China, and a limited economic foundation. This is dependent on its oil and natural gas pipelines, and military strength that has catapulted Moscow back into a pro-world leadership role that had been lost to the U.S. in the terminal days of the Soviet Union.