CRF Blog

What Really Scares Vladimir Putin the Most

by Bill Hayes

In What Really Scares Vladimir Putin the Most for New Republic, Julia Ioffe argues that the Russian leader is quite cautious.

More central to Vladimir Putin’s understanding of Syria is his conservatism. Putin is a preternatural standpatter. He is notoriously averse to firing people; he still writes the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. Putin is often said to be a product of the cold war and the Soviet Union, but more than anything, he is a product of their end. The defining moment of his political maturation came in the late ’80s, when the Soviet order, as imperfect and deeply rusted as it had been, gave way to chaos, violence, and poverty, and in which the KGB, the proud elite in which he had served, was humbled and forced to serve as security guards for the new economic elite. It is not for nothing that Putin talks about Russia’s bitter experience with revolutions — a category in which he includes 1991 — and about how change is better affected very gradually.

This fear deeply colors Putin’s foreign policy, too. [more]