Mark Nuckols

Another purpose of the outsized public celebrations and military parade is to distract Russian citizens from the woeful condition of the Russian state and society. Not one Russian university makes it into the ranking of the top 200 institutions globally. There is virtually no innovation in Russian manufacturing and Russia is incapable of producing anything exportable, aside from commodities and low grade steel. And Russia under Putin has increasingly turned into a one party authoritarian state riddled with corruption and despite massive oil and gas revenues unable to provide high quality public services to its citizens.

Russia truly has come to have a very militaristic culture, and a cult of state power. This explains both the Kremlin's desire to thwart the U.S. over every global issue, merely as a matter of overwrought pride and jealousy, and why Russians continue to believe antiquated ideas such as the belief that Ukraine is the pathway for NATO to invade Mother Russia. And this year both Putin and the Russian public are drunk on the notion that the invasion and annexation of Crimea marks the return of Russia as a great power. It’s an illusory sense of power, however, as Russia is still a fundamentally weak country, with a resource dependent economy and a military which is no match for either NATO or China, but only strong enough to menace its even weaker and smaller neighbors such as Ukraine and Georgia.

As long as the Kremlin harbors its outsized and unrealistic ambitions to be a great power and continues to deny its own weaknesses and paint Europe and America as menacing adversaries, Russia will continue to pose a threat to peace and security in its immediate neighborhood. And its grandiose military posturing is a perfect symbol of is militaristic mentality.

Mark Nuckols

Mark Nuckols teaches law and business in Moscow. He has a JD from Georgetown and an MBA from Dartmouth. He has lived in Eastern Europe for most of the last 20 years, including Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Georgia.