Russia has always had a desire (I think foolishly) for strong man leaders. Also with the tumult of the fall of the Soviet Union, they are now pissed off and lost in a similar, but by no means the same, manner to what I saw in England in the late 1980’s. There is a loss of empire. However, the Russian reaction is different. In this way, Putin is a return to the world they knew in the days of the Soviet Empire. They seek a return to the good times, which were not really good, but what they are seeking is a return to the things they know and hence things that they are comfortable with. In a way it is a returning to the hearth.
In a way this may be necessary for the Russians themselves, even though it represents the two steps back in the of three steps forward two steps back scheme of life. They need to reinvent themselves and the direction they were heading was probably wrong in degree and precision. The Russians need to invent a world that works with the way that they view themselves and their place in the world. I think that the creation of mega industries, while a very soviet thing to do, was a mistake. I know that when in China in the early 1990’s there was discussion on how to prevent the creation of such monsters and the Chinese as a result were much more successful at avoiding this mistake. Now Putin finds himself having to destroy these monstrosities. But will it lead them out of the wilderness? This I do not know. I must admit that I was surprised by the British response and their success in digging themselves out of the mire. The have been reinventing themselves and their perception of their place in the world, which is much more in tune with the reality of the situation. Perhaps Putin will turn out to be their equivalent of Margaret Thatcher.