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Before Georgia and Crimea and everything else, somewhere after the fall of the USSR, was there any reason really for Russia to not join the rest of the west? Maybe not as an EU member but a friendly neighbor. What would Russia risk by not opposing Europe and the US?
From the perspective of the russian people, not the elite.

Or was it literally just to create an external enemy to keep the elites safe?


Well, in fact it HAD better than ever relationships with EU after the fall of USSR, since it offered unprecedented economical opportunities and the whole narative was that Russia is now a democracy. It was very close to ancapistan tho bc state couldn't do soykaf at first and companies with criminals ruled the day. However state returned it's domain and consumed all of it's opposition, leaving the political climate essentially the same as usual.

The easy answer for your question would be that average russian is traditionalist and anti-globalist. And considering history of RU-US and RU-EUR relationships common people were not very eager to find alies in former enemies. The question is not why did we became opponents, but was and is it possible NOT to be opponents given that the state won't change much.

Don't forget that the common notion is that West is alien, if not hostile. And it is one of key factors behind the downfall of USSR. Unfortunatelly the only possible solution to get rid of this notion is to wait until most of the soviet generations die. Only then we can expect considerable changes in that direction.


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People don't realize the fall of the USSR was not so much a breakdown but rather another Russian revolution. The state apparatus was still strong and that new Russia did not want to change, it wanted to reform itself, use capitalism as a new tool and get rid of the protectorate it imposed on Eastern Europe for a more modern structure, the CIS.
The West never wanted to have "Russia" join it, they wanted to break Russia down in many democratic territories in order to "digest" it in the European Union. The Russian Empire and the USSR were too big and self-sufficient to get rid of authoritarianism and would have taken Europe down with them if integrated as it was. This is why the US made sure Russia was cut in two parts, the Western part being Ukraine, and incited former Soviet republics to distance themselves from their old protector. That's more or less how Brzezinski presented it in his 1997 book.

But most of the US hawks and their European bandwagoner "intellectuals" didn't care about democracy, they went drunk with power, believed they finally got the property of the whole planet, and started to get even more aggressive and obnoxious. NATO was not disbanded, and the First Gulf War was presented not as an international incident but as the promising beginning of world policing by jingoistic Westerners.
The 90s were not only a dark decade for the Russian people but also the decade where the IMF dictated its law in the country. The Russians felt like their country was bled out by the liberal democracies as if they were a conquered people. Also add the commonplace racism in American media and entertainment, the latent hysteria against Middle-East countries and soon China, the absolute disdain Western countries have for international law (Iraq being just another example among many) the need for the people to get their dignity back before their bread.
Putin is definitely less crazy than his exiled and Western detractors, that's for sure. He also probably revels in the fact he used the very new technologies (that were supposed to bring him down according to professional TV babblers) to flood the West in a sea of fake news and decadent nationalism. He got some thugs out and placed his own, and the country is slowing going down since the Ukraine debacle, but he's not going to fall since there is no better alternative. Russians aren't dying of hunger, and don't want to see their country becoming another Iraq just for a dream that led to nothing but the IMF governing the economy for ten years.


>the IMF dictated its law
Recall as well that the 1996 election wasn't particularly honest. Yeltsin was given obscene amounts of money by Americans and oligarchs, and was able to spend around 200 times the legal limit on political advertising. Even Time magazine acknowledged that something screwy was going on, and ran the cover story "Yanks to the Rescue," about all of the American backing Yeltsin's reelection campaign was receiving. Even with all of that, Yeltsin only was able to win 54 to 41. Putin and Medvedev came to power in 2000 with a considerable oligarch bankroll as well, but Putin was able to use various methods, including poisoning and old, unenforced anti-corruption laws to beat the oligarchs into submission. Russian GDP collapsing ~50% after the end of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the American backed firesale of state assets to a handful of private individuals is enough fodder to fuel a national rivalry for decades.


Both parents lived a long time in USSR/CIS/Russia, one as a native and the other as a european intellectual here for study reasons, and they both lived the Perestroijka, even if with a very different perspective.
If someone wants me to ask them anything feel free to do it.
For now about that period i only remeber their stories about the easyness of making money, the fast rise of organized criminality and the big amount of people killing themselves in the streets.

Only a few election in Russia's story were actually very polite. Both Yelsin and Putin used the fear of the russian second most important party (LDPR) a lot. Yelsin in particular in 1991 convinced a lot of people to vote him against Shirinowski (sort of a NazBol), who actually ended with only 8% of the votes. Oh, and what about the metro self-bombing of Vladimir during the 00s?


Simply Russia has 2 main problems, and all of Russia's history consists of trying to solve these problems.

First problem is that they don't have enough connection with the world because they don't have many ports and the few they have freeze during the winter, which damages Russia's economy greatly. This is why they have been trying to get to the "warm waters" for pretty much all of their history.

The second problem is that most of its population and its capital is located at West. If someone tries to attack from the east the enormous land between Moscow and the eastern border would be enough for Russia to gain advantage over the enemy. But there is no mountain, no body of water, nothing that would stop an enemy that enters Russia from the West. This is why Russia always tried to conquer or manipulate northeastern european countries.

The West and Russia simply have opposite goals. Europe doesn't want to lose northeast european countries, and doesn't want Moscow to be impossible to reach.
US doesn't want Russia to get to the warm waters and fix its economy because if Russia has enough ports it can both have an equally strong economy as the US, and have more military presence than the US, eventually making US lose its power in the Middle East and lose it's position as a global superpower


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This thread is so refreshing. An intelligent, calm, seemingly-unbiased discussion on geopolitics centering on Russia on the internet in 2017? My genuine thanks to everyone.


There is a more fundamental problem then both of these - general lack of adequate politicians. All along history Russia was ruled by barely competent leaders and institutes (with notable exceptions which keep the country alive). The inner policy crisis comes from the fact, that russian state institutions are mostly occupied by those who would use their power either not wisely or for their own gain. Just look at emperors of Russian Empire, 60% of them easily were unfit for the job and did soykaf for the most part. The percentage for USSR is even bigger.
The reason for this is fairly simple: low political culture. Most of the time Russia had non-democratic regiment and common people were discouraged from participating in politics with THEIR views and opinions. State job was viewed as a tool to gain wealth and power, but to achieve this you had to be of notable origin.
Modern Russia made a step in the right direction. The people, not the state, though it unwillingly complied. Compared to all previous years, more and more people take part in inner dialogue and political life, not just doing their job and entertaining themselves. The state aided this in two ways: it's apparatus (not just conventional organs, but also unofficial connections) became bigger that their management can cope to optimally control country, which makes Saltykov-Shedrin's aphorism "The severity of Russian laws is mitigated by the fact that obeying them is optional." more valid than ever, and secondly - their recent slopiness with legislations and external politics caused a big backlash which made people ask themselves: "The fuck they are doing, time to at least say something."
tl;dr: Russia was ruled by incompenent people and common folk took no part in political life. Modern Russia is slowly changing that, but general situation is the same.


Neither Russian nor American here.

To be honest, I'm not even sure the situation in Russia is dramatic compared to the West. The Western political culture was the work of a few enlightened people against a massive opposition and even today is way above most politicians and people there.
The Trump episode was particularly telling. Even if we leave out the ignorant flag-humpers and the industrialists who can't believe they were put in power by the very people they are going to throw back to misery, many people voted Trump or abstained because they wanted to "shake things". Even banks don't try to "shake things". The democratic process is seen as a raw exercise of power rather than a crushing responsibility, which is a huge regression.
The democratic system was supposed to be the last stage of political evolution where political power, after being turned against itself through the separation of powers, was now atomized between enlightened, objective voters whose collective decision would be impersonal and wise. Instead, we got the media machine making bucks by turning every political discussion into an emotional baiting where the possibility to turn around political power limitations and turn it against others became the sweetest part, no matter the political sensibilities. High ideals became an excuse to spit on legality while "realism" became an excuse to spit on values and international conventions. All this babble create more confusion while the main impulse is the thirst for absolute political power, with the occasional lip-service if you want to call yourself a "moderate".

In the midst of all of this, you have >>227 walking around and telling about how he read the classics who founded the modern legal doctrine while the so-called "free world" is represented by a frantic baby who sold himself to the presidency on the premise that improvisation beats expertise.


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"Russia has 2 opened ways. While getting through all these hard times Russia could gain experience. Experience of democracy, own mistakes. Could by learning from them work through such series of changes which step by step would let Russia follow course similar to the other postsocialistic countries. Like Poland, or Hungary or, for example, Czech Republic, or Slovenia. Become normal civilized european country. Poor at first. Then gradually richer.
But also country could… whirl in it own sorrow. Belive in a world conspiracy. Start to catch enemies. Seek for enemies among foreigners. Could try to opt for the way which Germany have opted for after First World War, not WWII.
First choise is possible. And second choise is possible. It entirely depends on us."


>"warm waters"
I think the One Belt One Road Initiative may have interesting implications in that case, right?

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