An interesting analysis of post-imperial Russia. As the husband of a Russian, I've seen Russians' peculiar attitudes towards their former empire up close. It seems to me they refuse to think through their situation properly. What do they want with their "near abroad" really? Why were they against Yushchenko and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine? In some ways, the collapse of the Soviet Union is a tragedy: it led to war in the Caucasus, to demographic and economic collapse, and to the dissolution of a political union which had some merits and might have been better maintained and adapted rather than destroyed. The "nations" that appeared, left high and dry by the Soviet collapse, were confused, uncertain, arbitrary. But if Russia doesn't plan to reconquer them-- presumably not-- I don't see how they can expect to have continuing influence there. And their refusal to make a total break with the legacy of Stalin is bizarre, perverse, and self-defeating. Of course any nation that lets itself be tainted with the shadow of a mass-murderer will be feared, reviled, and contained. What do they expect? What do they not understand?