Russia’s Fragile Power

Russia sent an impressive delegation to the World Economic Forum at Davos this year. After strong representation under Boris Yeltsin, the level of Russia’s participants had slipped since Vladimir Putin became president. This year, however, the Russians sent their “A” team, and a well-attended session focused on “Russia’s More Muscular Foreign Policy.”

With higher energy prices, many Russian officials are enjoying their renewed power. I was asked to comment on United States-Russian relations at a dinner with top officials from the government and Gazprom, the giant energy company. I said that America and Europe had too many illusions about democracy in Russia in the 1990’s, and were now going through a stage of disillusionment. There is concern about Russia’s future, how it will use its newfound power, and how the West should respond.

One view is that Russian politics is like a pendulum. It had swung too far in the direction of chaos under Yeltsin, and has now swung too far in the direction of order and state control under Putin. It has not swung back to Stalinism; Czarism might be a better historical metaphor. Observers debate whether it will eventually reach a new equilibrium.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.