Not for the first time in the last two centuries, Russia leaves the world wondering about its destinies. Russia is, notwithstanding the losses incurred when the Soviet Empire imploded, still an enormous country of ten time-zones from Kaliningrad Oblast to Sakhalin, a land of vast empty spaces full of promise, with more than 140 million population – 15 million of them Muslim – looking at the crescent rising rather than the cross and the stars, suspecting that St George might not be their friend and protector.
The question remains about what today constitutes Russia’s national interest, and who is the man, or the power elite, to define and implement it. With Vladimir Putin’s second term as President about to end, many Russians fear, after eight years of rising oil and gas revenues, instability and insecurity.
But the outside world, too, keeps wondering who and what will follow Putin.