Russia’s Domestic Evolution: What Impact on its Foreign Policy? Russie.Nei.Visions, No. 84, April 2015
Throughout the Ukraine crisis, the West has been surprised at the brutality of Russia's reaction. It has also been surprised by the broad support for Vladimir Putin's policy among the country’s elites and the population at large (88% of whom back the policy), despite the impact of sanctions and countermeasures that are contributing to the deterioration of the country's economy. This level of support cannot be attributed solely to Russia's propaganda machine, though it has been exerting unprecedented influence since early 2014.
Russia is using its discourse on the West's behavior as a tool with which to justify the tightening of its foreign policy. While this is undoubtedly a factor, it conceals three profound changes in Russia and in the nature of its political regime that have led to a tougher policy: an extreme concentration of power at the highest level, a failure to diversify the economy and modernize post-Soviet Russia, and the destabilization of society.