After the Thaw

After the Thaw

Yuri Levada

When Russia began emerging from decades of international isolation and confrontation with the West in the years...

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When Russia began emerging from decades of international isolation and confrontation with the West in the years after Mikhail Gorbachev´s perestroika (1985-1991), many Russians hoped for the quick establishment of friendly ties with the Western nations. Ten years of disappointment lay ahead of them.

Russians overestimated how much Western assistance would be available to help bring about their country´s rebirth. They did not foresee the obstacles to effective cooperation that would arise within Russia: the lack of comprehensive economic reforms, the absence of full legal protections for foreign investments, and the growth of corruption. And many were disappointed when the spirit of great-power confrontation lingered, despite the end of the Cold War, dashing hopes for normal relations with the West. Today, after several years of political and economic turmoil, there is growing nostalgia in Russia for the Soviet era, when the Soviet Union was perceived as a great power, with a host of dependent states under its domination.

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