The news from Russia is not good. Democracy loses ground, its economy depends on oil and its foreign policy is ham-handed. How much worse can it get? Nonetheless, before embracing this opinion, let us review facts.
Vladimir Putin has curtailed media freedoms, marginalized liberal political parties and concentrated power in the Kremlin. However, many internet web sites criticize and even ridicule him. Russia depends on oil but as long as prices stay up, that does not represent a problem. Russia’s policy towards Georgia and Ukraine has been heavy-handed but today it does not intervenes in Kyrgyzstan. It has also taken steps to improve its relationship with Ukraine and it is negotiating the withdrawal of its troops from Georgia with Tbilisi.
Putin created a stir when he explained that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, but although that opinion may not be shared by most people here, the Russians agree with him. For the members of the “glorious generation” who lived during World War II and later saw how their money lost its purchasing power during the liberalization of the economy, this assessment is a fact. According to recent polls, 66% of the Russians think that the perestroika did more harm than good, 70% approve of Putin’s overall performance as president and more than 20% think that Stalin was a great leader.
How to deal with Russia? Today, the Russians condemn the reforms of the 1990s that they believe were inspired by the United States and denounce what they consider interference in their domestic affairs. So, we have to accept Russia as it is and to work with it.

Los Angeles Times (United States)

"For Real Results, Let’s Get Real", by Eugene B. Rumer, Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2005.