This article discusses different aspects of the political evolution of Russian President and former Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the impact of his evolution upon the type of regime that has evolved from soft authoritarianism to a ‘militocracy‘ and ‘consolidated authoritarian regime.’ The article discusses eight contributions to this special issue by placing them within the broader context of how the West misread two areas pertaining to Russia. The first is how the West by wrongly believing that Russia, being a member of G8, the NATO-Russia Council and other Western structures, continued to be interested in becoming a Western political and economic system. The second is the tradition, stretching back to Sovietology, of ignoring and downplaying the issue of how the nationalities question and different nationalisms interact with democratic revolutions, transitions and, specifically, with Russian politics.
The introductory article next discusses the eight contributions within the context of: Russian messianism, the Russkii Mir (Russian World), how and when nationalists and fascists became mainstream in Russian politics, Putin’s great power nationalism, Ukrainophobia and Russian chauvinism, historical myths and re-Stalinization of Putin’s political system. The final section compares Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine in 2008 and 2014 respectively and the growing xenophobia in Russian foreign policy.