RUSSIALINK: “What Drives the Russian State; To understand what makes Putin and his allies act the way they do, you need to look beyond the myths” – New York Times/ Alexander Baunov/ Carnegie Moscow

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“Since … Putin came to power … analysis of Russia … has largely focused on two interpretations …. The first argues that Russia is a mafia state in which the main aim of the ruling elite is to steal money at home to conceal and spend abroad. The second states that Mr. Putin is a hostage of his own popularity and … his approval rating. … [W]e must see how the Kremlin itself undermines those myths. There is, indeed, much corruption …. [and] certainly … Putin … cares about his popularity. … The Russian elite [also] has global ambitions. … rooted in Russia’s size and its history [that] have existed for centuries. … [A]nd [t]he 2008 financial crisis …  undermined trust in the Western economy. … [Putin] and his backers among the Russian elite have found that it’s not only impossible to catch up with the West but also impossible to overtake it. They want to build an alternative.”

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