Russia is the largest country in the world – its total area is 17,098,242 sq. m. Russia has a border with 14 countries recognised by the UN: Norway (191 km long border), Finland (1,309 km), Estonia (324 km), Latvia (332 km), Lithuania (261 km), Poland (210 km), Belarus (1,312 km), Ukraine (1,944 km), Georgia (894 km), Azerbaijan (338 km), Kazakhstan (7,644 km), China (4,179 km), Mongolia (3,452 km) and North Corea (18 km). The land border of Russia runs 22,408 km long, whereas the maritime boundary is 37,653 km long (however, the majority of this border is the Arctic Ocean).
There are both mountain ranges (the Urals, the Caucasus Mountains, the Eastern Sayan Mountains, and others), including the highest mountain in Europe – Mount Elbrus (5,642 m above sea level), and plane terrains, as the East European Plain, West Siberian Plain, and others in Russia.
The European part of Russia is located in the East European Plain. The whole country is located north of the 40th parallel, and a major part of its land territory is permafrost. 13.1 % of the territory can be used for agricultural purposes, and 49.4 % is covered by forests.
Although Russia is the biggest country in the world, it is located far from strategic trade routes in the regions of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, despite its size, most of the territory of Russia cannot be used for agricultural purposes both because of the country's location so far in the north and because of the fact that no big rivers flow through Russia which could be used for water transport in order to deliver the grown food to other regions in a fast and conveniet manner.
Russia is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. According to some researchers, Russia may own up to 30 % of the total quantity of natural resources globally. Russia holds a significant share of oil, coal, and gas reserves, but they are located in territories accessible with difficulties. In order to extract those resources, huge infrastructural projects and gas and oil pipelines should be developed. Also, the extraction of resources is hindered by their dislocation in permafrost territories.
According to the data of January 2020 the population of Russia is 146 745 098.. Majority of them are Russians (77.7 %), the other ethnicities are Tatars (3.7 %), Ukrainians (1.4%), Bashkirs (1.1 %), the Chuvash people (1 %), Chechens (1%), as well as others (10.2 %; 3.9 % have not revealed their ethnicity). At the same time, it must be said that approximately 200 national or ethnic groups exist in Russia. The official language of the state is Russian (it is officially used by at least 85.7 % of the people), but other languages are Tatar (3.2 %), Chechen (1 %), and others (10.1 %).
The majority (45.54 %) of people living in Russia are aged 25 to 54, but young people aged 0 to 24 years amount to only 26.83 % of the total population. The median age in Russia is 39.1 years, but the average life span is 70.47 years. At the same time, taken into account must be the fact that Russia experiences negative population growth (–0.04 %).
According to the data of the sociological centre "Levada-Centr" for 40% of Russia inhabitants religion plays an important role in their lives, but for 59% it does not. At the same time 51% of the country's population consider themselves religious, and 48% - non-religious. 68% of the population of Russia consider themselves Orthodox, 7% Muslims, 16% do not belong to any religion and 6% consider themselves atheists.
The administrative territorial division of Russia is made of three levels: federal districts, (FA), federal subjects of Russia, and economic regions.
In 2000, according to the order issued by the President Vladimir Putin, 7 federal districts were made: Northwest, Central, Southern, Volga, Ural, Siberian and Far Eastern. In 2010, president Dmitry Medvedev issued an order to separate North Caucasian Federal District from Southern Federal District. In 2014, created was the ninth Federal District of Crimea, but in 2016 it was included in Southern Federal District.
The Federal Discrict is not a federal subject or a part of an administrative territorial part determined by the Constitution. A representative of the federal district is an employee of the Presidential Executive Office authorities of which are not determined by the Constitution.
The federal system of Russia is enshrined in its Constitution, according to which the subjects of Russia are republics, krais, oblasts, cities of federal importance, autonomous okrugs and autonomous oblasts.
Russia consists of the following federal subjects:
• Republics: Adygea, Altai, Bashkortostan, Buryatia, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Karelia, Komi, Crimea, Mari El, Mordovia, Sakha (Yakutia), North Ossetia-Alania, Tatarstan, Tuva, Udmurtia, Khakassia, Chechnya, Chuvashia,
• Krais – Altai, Zabaykalsky, Kamchatka, Perm, Primorsky, Stavropol, Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk,
• Cities of federal importance – Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sevastopol;
• Autonomous oblast: Jewish Autonomous Oblast;
• Autonomous okrugs: Nenets, Khanty-Mansiysky – Yugra, Chukotka, Yamalo–Nenets;
• Oblasts – Amur, Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Belgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir, Volgograd, Vologda, Voronezh, Ivanovo, Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Kirov, Kostroma, Kurgan, Kursk, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Magadan, Moscow, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Oryol, Penza, Pskov, Rostov, Ryazan, Samara, Saratov, Sakhalin, Sverdlovsk, Smolensk, Tambov, Tver, Tomsk, Tula, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Yaroslavl.
Although according to formal criteria Russia is a federal state (with separate executive power, legislative system and legislative functions in each of the subjects), the regions do not have such autonomy as, for instance, in the U.S., because a rather strong central control is in place. The subject do not hold right to leave the federation.
Each of the subjects of Russia have to representative seats in the Federal Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. In relation to federal institutions, all federations are considered to be equal.
The economic regions of Russia are territorial units with a developed specific economic sector being a part of the whole Russian economy in each ot them. The economic regions are related to each other and are on the basis of the territorial economic administration.
At the moment, Russia is divided into 11 major economic regions: Northern, Northwestern, Central, Central Black Earth, Volga-Vyatka, Volga, Ural, North Caucasus, West Siberian, East Siberian, and Far Eastern. Kaliningrad region is not considered to be included in the division of economic regions. According to the Federal Law of 2006, Kaliningrad obtained the status of a special economic zone, which prescribes regime of special rights regarding economy, industry, investments and other operations of economic nature.
The economic regions can be merged into two eonomic zones – the Western (includes European part and Ural) and Eastern (Siberia and Far East). The economic regions of European and Ural parts of Russia which cover 25 % of the total territory of the state are populated by 80 % of the people. Although these regions contain a large share of material resources, deficit of oil energy resources can be observed in them. Therefore, the main focus is being put on manufacturing of labour-intensive goods in this part of Russia, including agriculture. Whereas Siberia and the Far East have the largest extraction areas of natural resources and raw materials, due to which the priority developed in this part of the country is energy-intensive industry.
The market reforms of the 1990s facilitated the growth of state economy. During the first two presidential terms of Putin, the average increase in GDP was 7 % annually. During the first decade of the 21st century, oil price was rapildly growing, thus stipulating faster economic growth, mainly in service and construction sectors. When the economic crisis started in 2008, GDP of Russia dropped by 10 %, and the recovery of economic situation was provided by high governmental expenditure. Between 2010 and 2014, the annual GDP growth was approximately 3 %, despite the fact the oil price was by 70 % higher than in the period of 2004 to 2008. The financial resources acquired were used to make a corporate state.
In 2013-2014, the Russian economy faced a new economic crisis. In 2015, GDP decreased by 3.7% and real income of the population decreased by 10%. The country allowed the Russian ruble to depreciate against the US dollar by almost 50%, but as a result of this and other processes, economic growth was not achieved. This is partly because the Russian producers imported parts and materials in the past rather than effect investment in the domestic market so that Russia could develop these resources itself. However, it should be noted that the fall of oil prices and Western sanctions did not cause the Russian economic crisis, they only aggravated it.
GDP growth started to decline already in 2012-2013, before the fall in oil prices and Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The main cause of the crisis are Russia's captive market. In addition, the laws on economic and trade issues are unclear and not effected equally.
In Russia, people are deterred from involving in enterpreneurship by the risks that their property or business rights can be taken away regardless of political loyalty, which makes business owners only short-term holders. If an entrepreneur acts against the interests or preferances of the heads of the state, he may be subjected to law enforcement structures such as the Federal Security Service FSB and the corrupt judiciary system, the investigation of which will result in imprisonment and bankruptcy of his business.
In 2013-2014, the Russian economy experienced a crisis because of Western sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of the Crimea, the knock down of the passenger aircraft MH-17 and the sharp fall of oil prices. Recent years have demonstrated Russia’s economic stagnation. In 2019 Russia’s GDP has increased only by 1.3%.
In March 2020 the federal budget for 2020-2022 was adopted with amendments. The budget is based on the forecast that the “Ural” oil will cost 57.7 USD per barrel, but dollar against ruble 63.9 USD / RUB, inflation will reach about 3%, but the GDP forecast for 2020 was raised to 1.9% (explaining it with the implementation of social initiatives proposed by President V.Putin on January 15, 2020, which will cost additional 2 trillion RUB in 2020-2022).
Since 2017, in accordance with the "budget rule", in order to reduce dependence on oil price fluctuations, the revenues from oil sales that are above the oil price limit (USD 42.4 per barrel of “Ural” oil in 2020) are transferred to the National Welfare Fund. Russia's reserves have risen sharply in recent years due to high oil prices. According to the government's plans, the resources of the National Welfare Fund, when they exceed 7% of GDP, will be transferred for the implementation of infrastructure projects.
One of the features of recent years is the proficit of the federal budget. In 2018, for the first time since 2011, the budget was implemented with a surplus of 2.7 trillion rubles ($ 43.8 billion, 2.7% of GDP). In 2019, RUB 1 trillion was not spent from the federal budget. The proficit was mainly affected by the increase in budget revenues and the inability of the government to spend funds on planned expenditures, primarily for the accomplishment of national development plans (so-called national projects). In 2019, the increase in budget revenues was due to the increase in the unpopular retirement age rising and the increase in the value added tax rate from 18% to 20%, as a result of which inflation increased and demand decreased, which is one of the drives of economic growth.
State enterprises play the largest role in the Russian economy – according to the Federal Antimonopoly Service data in 2017 state enterprises accounted for about 60% – 70% of Russia's GDP (for comparison, in 2005 they accounted for 35% of the country's GDP). The share of state-owned enterprises in the economy increased with the 2008 and 2013-2016 economic crises.
The most important state-owned companies are those involved in oil and gas extraction and export. Exports of natural resources, especially energy, are an important source of revenue for Russia, with a third of Russia's budget revenues coming from the oil and gas sector (in 2018, according to official data, 46% of federal budget revenues came from oil and gas exports, but taking into account the taxes paid by companies, this share is actually much higher). Russia's largest oil company is Rosneft, while its largest gas company is “Gazprom”, both state-owned. “Rosneft” is headed by Igor Sechin, a person close to Russian President V.Putin, and “Gazprom” is led by V.Putin's trustee, Alexey Miller.
European countries are the main destination for Russia's energy exports. Oil and gas are transported to Europe via pipelines: “Nord Stream”, “Yamal-Yevropa”, “Blue Stream”, “Soyuz” and “Bratstvo”, and oil via “Druhba” and Baltic oil pipeline system.
These examples, with “Rosneft” and “Gazprom”, reflect one of the peculiarities of the Russian economy: almost all major sectors of the economy are dominated by a state-owned company run by the president's trustees. This principle also applies to the state corporation "Rosteh", headed by the corporation's General Director Sergey Chemezov, as well as to the state owned nuclear energy corporation "Rosatom", which until October 2016 was headed by Sergey Kiriyenko (he was appointed first deputy head) and other state owned public companies.
Russia's economic structure probably stems from V.Putin's understanding of capitalism, which he acquired in the 1990s in StPetersburg. For him, capitalism is not fair and free competition between companies, but personal contacts, access chances and deals. Capitalism, in Putin's view, is not production, management, marketing and has no connection with workers or consumers. For him, capitalism is associated with personal contacts with regulators, circumvention of the law and the conclusion of various dishonest deals.
The Kremlin has sought to improve the economic situation by investing money and placing public orders in companies and infrastructure projects in the military-industrial complex. However, due to Russia's high level of corruption, the costs of these projects and orders could far outweigh their potential gains. Due to the small size of the public private sector, new roads, ports and railways may not be actively used by the public at all.
In the summer of 2016, Putin made massive personnel rotations within the administrative structures by replacing several representatives of the old elite close to him (acquintances) being less controllable for now, with loyal individuals. Former Chief of the Presidential Executive Office Sergey Ivanov, who, according to a few political process observers, was seen to be the second most influential person in Russia prior to to his removal, was the sixth high-level close-to-president official removed from office. Prior to that, suspended was President of Russian Railway Vladimir Yakunin, Head of Federal Protective Service Evgeny Murov, Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Ivanov, the Head of Russia's Federal Migration Service Konstantin Romodanovsky, the Head of Federal Customs Service of Russia Andrey Belyaninov. Replacement of the old representatives means that for the sake of renovation of the elite, immunity of the Putin's circles diminishes, and loyalty is more important than effectiveness.
In 2014, several Lithuania-based experts held a view, that within the framework of Ukrainian crisis increased is the influence of the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who is responsible for military-industrial complex, space and Artic, as well as ship-manufacturing and separatist regions and various military-patriotic organisations, and is being considered to be one of the leaders of the Russian nationalists (Izborsk Club). However, from time to time, problems in the sectors overseen by Rogozin (including the failed launch of the Soyuz rocket from Vostochny Cosmodrome) have come into public, which has caused a disappointment of Putin.
As Medvedev took presidential office, the Western countries were initially under the illusion that relations with Russia may be possibly improved and the state could become at least partly liberal, but the presidential election in 2012 proved the 'rotation' between then Prime Minister Putin and President Mededev was tactics needed for Putin's return to the presidential office. Although Medvedev does not belong to any clan, he is a Putin's man, therefore with no independent political views: instead of that, Medvedev has strengthened his influence over financial means and the leading party Jedinnaja Rossija.
Although the authoritative leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov is infamous for his scandalous actions and the autonomous administration of the republic (in reality, the territory is not integrated into the Russian legislative system), Putin keeps supporting Kadyrov, who, from the Kremlin's perspective, has brought a relative stability to the region (which has a particular importance in times of increasing threats of terrorism in the world) and has openly expressed strong support for the President. Moreover, Kadyrov controls around 40,000 operatives of power structures, which is a significant counterforce to other such structures and federal institutions.
The Minister of Defence Shoygu together with Medvedev and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov in the rankings of most influential people take 2nd to 4th place. The annexation of Crimea Russian military opearations in Syria have gained extensive public support, and the role of the Minister of Defence can both increase (field commanders taken part in the operations could enter politics, a part of the functions of Ministry of Emergency Situations could be transferred to the Ministry of Defence), as well as decrease (high military operation costs aligning with state economic problems) in further perspective. Although the current Minister of Defence is seen to be a determined person and a potential candidate of presidential office, he avoids conflict situations with higher-standing authorities, thus demostrating loyalty.
Experts hold a view that since 2011 one of the key figures of Russian politics has been Volodyn (the current Speaker of the State Duma), who was nominated the First Deputy of the Chief of Presidential Executive Office and curator of domestic affairs by replacing the up-to-then influential Vladislav Surkov.
Putin's career advanced from being a regular operative of the KGB to becoming a self-confident authoritative leader, holding the office for three presidential terms and taking the top spot on Forbes annual rankings 'The World's Most Powerful People' in 2014 and 2015. The cult of personality and the aggressive foreign policy have contributed to Putin's fame not only globally but also in Russia which does not see a real alternative to his power at the moment.
As Putin took office, he continued the traditions of Yeltsin (control over media, corruption as one of the supporting points of the system, support for oligarchs and authoritative form of state administration). Despite the aforementioned, he is said to be the person preventing chaos and oligarch arbitrariness defining the 1990s.
Putin is an introvert who rather prefers to react to events than to propose new initiatives – he is not famous for having a strategic vision. His presidential image can be characterised by the impression of dominating and unshakeable leader, cultivated on purpose (the cult of personality). The Putin's brand has won strong positions not only in Russian, but also the global mass culture (T-shirts with portraits of the President and other products).
The decision-making style of the President can sometimes be referred to as 'special operations': sometimes the nation and his closest comrades are informed about the result only post factum.
There are several superficially significant domestic structures in Russia, them being the parliament, consisting of the State Duma (lower house) and the Federation Council (upper house), ministries, Security Council, and president.
On January 15, 2020, V.Putin, addressing the message to the parliament, initiated amendments to the constitution. In his address V.Putin called for strengthening the status of the State Council (currently a consultative body comprising the Heads of both chambers of parliament, the President's Plenipotentiaries in the federal districts, party fraction leaders and subject leaders), expanding the role of parliament in government formation and giving the Federation Council the right to dismiss judges of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, to prioritize Russian law over international law if it contradicts Constitution, to repeal the norm limiting the run for President to two consecutive terms and to determine the indexation of pensions, etc.
On March 10 and 11, 2020, both chambers of parliament adopted the initiative of Valentina Tereshkova, a member of the State Duma, which would allow previous presidents to run in the elections, not counting the terms of the previous presidency. Thus, V.Putins could remain in his post until 2036.
Federal level elections in Russia take the form of parliamentary elections (last in September 2016), which take place every five years, and direct presidential elections, which take place every six years (next scheduled for March 17, 2024).
Although formally the power division in Russia is made according to Western standards, in real life, all the strategic decisions are being made by president Putin. The State Duma is dominated by Putin's founded party Jedinaja Rossija and other political parties which are not in the coalition officialy, but in fact co-operate with the power structures (as the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky). Ministers act accordingly the guidelines given by Putin and the people close to him, and in many cases the most important governmental positions are given to friends of Putin's and the people of his circle rather than to the most competent people. Amongst the examples are the Executive Director of the State Oil Company Rosneft Sechin and the former Chief of the Presidential Executive Office Ivanov. During the Putin's reign, power has become very personal, i.e., is being concentrated in his hands: the current political system of Russia could not exist without Putin being present.
Putin's power is being ensured by the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is the main successor to the USSR's Committee of State Security (KGB). Despite the formal division of the power structures, the FSB holds the actual control over the Investigative Committee (Russian analogue to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)), as well as the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia which has no right to oversee the FSB. At the same time, it was reported that on 18 September 2016 when the Russian parliament election was held, published was information that the FSB, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Federal Protective Service (FSO) could be merged into one ministry – the Ministry of State Security (MGB), as it was during the reign of the USSR leader Joseph Stalin.
The FSB's impact can be seen on all the domestic levels of Russia. The Service has carried out several seizures of state importance and ensures Putin's ability to have control over the oligarchs and society. Each and every Russian business or institution employs an FSB officer – it is a practice remained since the times of the USSR.
On April 5, 2016, by uniting the internal troops of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI), OMON, SOBR and other structures of Ministry of Interior. The National Guard "Rosgvardija" was established, and as its Director was appointed Viktor Zolotov, the former Deputy Director of the Presidential Security Service and the FSO (2000-2013).
Corruption in Russia rules to such extent that several political process observers hold a view that power itself in Russia is based on corruption, without which it is not possible to climb the career ladder and improve one's positions in office. Corruption may be expressed in different ways: as direct money tranfers, disregard of legislative norms when it comes to particular individuals, and appointments to take a position with no solid reason.
Although the organised crime in Russia is not as severe as it was in the 1990s anymore, its impact can be seen also nowadays. Several high-level officials have been accused of co-operating with criminal groups (such accusations are brought against Putin as well). Domestically, crime is mainly felt as corruptive dealings by officials and entrepreneurs with bonds to the state, and to which judicial authorities, if no specific guidance is given, turn a blind eye.
A common practice in Russia is personnel rotations, or reallocation of posts, which usually take place upon the end of electoral cycle as the power balance of inner elite changes, or due to a necessity to gain support from people of a particular region prior to election. The most recent personnel rotations where seen in the autumn of 2016 after the election of State Duma, when a part of the Presidential Executive Office enrolled in the State Duma and Federal Council, but individuals, previously non-related to the power officially, took high-level positions in the Presidential Executive Office, and in the summer of 2016, when abolished was the Crimean Federal District, and replaced were governors of several oblasts were replaced, for instance, by new representatives substituted were the governors of Yaroslavl, Kaliningrad, Sevastopol.
Most of the Russian media are controlled by the Kremlin and translate a regime-supporting propaganda. The media working independently from the Kremlin's influence, as the television channel Dozhd, cannot reach a large audience. Journalists who criticise the Kremlin's officials, Putin, his inner circle, or the Russian politics itself, are often influenced, jailed or even phisically neutralised (as it possibly happened to the famous correspondent Anna Politkovskaya).
The current course of Russian foreign policy is being set by its President, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered to be an executor rather than decision-maker. Throughout the reign of Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev, the Kremlin's attitude towards the West has changed drastically: what started as approaching to the Euro-Atlantic area ended up with 'enemy' rhetoric. As Putin took the office, a goal to make Russia a player on a global scale was set. Russia has expanded its cooperation with Asia and Latin America, as well as extended presence in the Arctic region, but priority remains the geographically and historically close CIS or post-Soviet space.
Although many Westerners expressed their surprise about the escalation of situation in Ukraine, it greatly corresponded to the Kremlin's perception of state security interests and foreign policy formulated centuries ago (since the times of the Russian Empire). Many features of Moscow's rhetoric and foreing policy reflect the policies taken by the Soviet Union and Russian Empire. Russia has always aimed to have control over its periphery. Moreover, the neighbouring territories to the West from Russia are seen not only as a potential gain, but also a threat. Therefore, in the Kremlin's opinion, the Western effort to integrate Russia in the political and security architecture of Europe is a disadvantading, unfavourable and restricting action. Despite the fact that upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Russia lost its control over a major part of the territory, the geopolitical perception of the Kremlin has only slightly changed. Russia has tried to strengthen its regional impact by developing several ineffective integration projects (CIS, the Customs Union [of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan], Eurasian Economic Union), as well as with the use of economic levers (supply of natural gas and oil) and the so called 'frozen conflicts' (the Lukyanov doctrine implemented during the USSR, which prescribes to separate Russian-speaking regions from their respective countries by giving the green light to the ideology of separatism in those territories). The Russian foreign policy-makers hold a view of Russia's 'special status' in relation to its neighouring countries.
The Russian strategy has been based on expansion and incorporation of its neighbouring lands for centuries, so in case of attack it would not be met unprepared (strategic depth). The Kremlin has shown openly that in order to protect its interests in the neighbourhood it must also be involved in solving of the global issues (Syria).
Mikhail Zygar, founder of television channel Dozhd, says, that Putin's evolution has reached the point where his utmost interest lays in geopolitics. One may mistakenly think that the confronting foreign policy of Putin is only a venturous action to shift focus from the domestic issues. All effort is being put into to counteract Washington and regain the status of a global powerhouse. Essential factor in the forming process of foreign policy is not only the unquestionable role of the President, but also the personal views of Putin.
One of the foreign-political prinicples in relations with Europe is to prefer a bilateral rather than multilateral inter-state form, thus trying to gain advantage from differences amongst the EU countries which may help to have a greater impact on each of the states separately.
Amongst the supporters of the Russian policy are both the representatives of the far-left, and right ideological wing. Party bonds with Moscow has been one of the hot topics in the European press for at least last five years, but less attention is being paid to the leading centre party representatives' contacts with the Kremlin. The cooperation between Moscow and particular political groupings, individuals and public organisations varies from operations taking informative nature to financial support and recruitment of special services. Moscow's effort put in the work with the agents of influence in Europe is being oriented on both short-term and long-term goals. The particular emphasis put on the agents of influence complies with the Russian hybrid warfare conception (information warfare, economic, political, military levers), traits of which can be directly seen not only in Ukraine, but, indirectly, also in the Baltics and the rest of the EU.
The Kremlin's introduced set of actions to weaken the West or 'the hidden war' can be compared to the 'active measures' of Soviet special services (underground actions in order to weaken the West from inside). The most significant example ir the case of Edward Snowden. One may actually say that even since the collapse of the USSR Russia has been continuing to conduct operations of influence of various kind in the West. However, in recent years, under the circumstances of escalation of the geopolitical situation (since the Ukrainian crisis), hybrid warfare and separate elements of it (information warfare, in particular) are being put into action more actively than ever before.
Groupings and individuals sympathetic to the Russian leading authorities manifest restoration of the level of relations which existed prior to the Ukrainian crisis. Strong elements of actions carried out by the agents of influence can be observed not only in Eastern and Central Europe, but also in the European powerhouses, as Germany, France, Great Britain. The main ideas reflected about correspond to the interests of Kremlin – to cancel sanctions against Russia (negative impact on European economy), discredit the extension of NATO (new member states and Europe's dependence upon the U.S. as well as threat to Russia), destabilisation of EU (refugees and terrorism, traditional values).
Although Russia may be considered to be a regional powerhouse at the moment, its ambition has always been related to have impact at global level, that is also demonstrated by the effort to constrain and minimise the leading power of the West in the world and to restore the strategic balance existing during the Cold War. The regional ambition is only a step towards the global power. In other words, the compatriot policy and the concept of the 'Russian World' is rather a foreign policy method (a tool) than its final destination. Russia wants the world to be reigned by geographical centres of civilisation (the 'Russian World' being one of them), thus ensuring power in its region. More and more official representatives of Russia use rhetoric containing a message addressed to Washington that it should accept the fact that multipolarity is being present in the world, and that new world order (rules of the game) should be discussed.