Russia: Returning as a World Power?
Looks like it:
Thinking the Unthinkable: Russia Has Re-Emerged As a Great Power
The Western image of Russia and Putin in recent years has been very negative. President Obama has publicly called Vladimir Putin a “schoolboy who slouches in his chair in the back of the room“ and derided his country as a mere “regional power.”The article goes on to show the many ways that formerly great powers -including the United States- have declined in military and economic strength, leaving the door open for Russia to fill the void, as it is now doing. Read the whole thing, the article has many embedded links as well.
This begs the question: how Russia could again become a major power after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991? How could Putin do this without an agrarian or consumer revolution and with the massive drop in the price of oil? If Putin is a terrible leader, then how can you explain successful interventions in Georgia (2008), Crimea (2014), Ukraine (2014-2016) and Syria (2015-2016)?
Putin, however, is actually a very shrewd leader with a brilliant Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, who relies on a capable Foreign Ministry. Putin has rebuilt Russia’s military capability by spending $49B a year on security. Russia retains 1,790 strategic nuclear weapons. With over 140 million people and 13 million college graduates, Russia has nearly a million first-class scientists, engineers and technicians, most of whom work for the military.
Many former great powers are now no longer major powers. [...]
As I posted previously, while American policy in the Middle East is unfocused and confused, Russia seems to know what it wants, and how to go about getting it by leveraging what they have to work with and using it to maximum effect.