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Russia turns the page
This narrative history of the new Russia brings together political, economic, cultural, social, and ethnic factors that shaped Russia’s course during the final years of the post-Soviet period. The book starts with Vladimir Putin's Munich Security Conference Speech in 2007 and ends with Russia's intervention in Syria in 2015-2016. The author argues that during the post-Soviet period Russia was torn between the two conflicting impulses: the fear of chaos, which pushed Russia towards building a stronger state, and the desire to be accepted into the U.S.-led global order, which motivated Russia to continue liberal reforms. After 2008, the reform impulse temporarily prevailed, as Russia undertook a series of liberal political changes. Putin’s return for another presidential term in 2012 paved the way for Russia’s more aggressive foreign policy that eventually degenerated into the conflict with the West over Ukraine and Syria. Using primarily Russian-language sources and his own eyewitness observations, the author provides a detailed examination of several important but rarely covered topics, including: • Russia’s search for new national ideals • The evolution of Russia’s relationship with the former Soviet republics • The struggle between the Kremlin and the liberal opposition • The causes of corruption and the government's efforts to stem it • The conflict between the Soviet notion of social justice and the realities of Russia's laissez-faire capitalism • Russia’s efforts to overcome the legacy of Stalinism • The conflict inside Russia’s elites over Putin’s decision to return for another term • The source of Russia’s conduct during the Ukrainian crisis • Russia’s new foreign policy and the Kremlin’s rationale for the intervention in Syria