But the Western world and above all mainstream media has consistently failed to understand the true dimension of Russia as a country and as a society – or even the historical dimensions of Russia as such. Instead of trying to understand of what the Russian society is about, the Western mainstream media tends to apply Western standards on democracy, free market capitalism and above all mentality on Russia, disregarding the obvious differences in history, culture, or even language.
The Shock of the Post-Soviet time and its aftermath
When Vladimir Putin became President in the year 2000, things changed for the better. The economy grew, wealth became accessible to the people – though a number of very influential oligarchs achieved uncanny wealth. A reason for this was that Putin made an end to unlimited American style predator capitalism that engulfed the entire country and opened the flood gates for organized crime, corruption and rapid social decline. Putin enforced a more state controlled economy, but it is still far away from the total state controlled economic system under the USSR regime.
It is a common understanding within Russian society that it is more or less impossible to adopt western standards and values, such as free market economy or western democratic system to a society that was predominantly under authoritarian or even totalitarian rule. As a result, Putin’s so called “guided democracy” which maintain him or his temporary successor Medvedev in power – despite the obvious non-existent democratic legitimacy or the lack of a strong political opposition. For Westerners, this is incomprehensible and does not fit with their century long history of struggle for their values of freedom, hence: free elections, free market capitalism (even with its destructive potential), and freedom of opposition.
The very very long road to recover
Not only has the Russian economy need to recover, but also the relations to the West. For Europe, the impacts of the sanctions are just as severe as for Russia, with Germany for example making a 100 million Euro loss on armament deals with Russia; France was forced to cancel their deliveries of Mistral-Class helicopter carriers, and Greece, Cyprus and Spain are reporting a significant decrease of Russian tourists coming to their countries. Additionally, the import ban on agricultural products has led to a serious revenue drop for European farmers. In essence, there are no winners of the current sanctions, but only losers – except for the US which is the least affected actor in this entire dissent, but it doesn’t do much to ease the tensions either.
Agreement on mutual misunderstanding
Europe has entered a stage where it is on vogue to bash Russia, again. Russia, on the other hand, has re-entered an Anti-West bashing and has gained in self-confidence, disregarding the economic hardship it is facing now. If deliberate miscommunication and misinformation continues, the hardship might become more serious than only economic.