After the fall of Communism, Russia reverted to czarism. But more importantly, Russia embraced capitalism. Although not democratic, Russia is largely free. Property rights are more deeply anchored than they were five years ago, and the once-collectivist society is going private. Indeed, private consumption is the main driver of economic growth. Russia’s future now depends heavily on how fast a middle class— a self-identified group with personal stakes in having a law-based government accountable to tax payers— can be created. The West needs to take the long view, stay engaged, and maximize contacts, especially with younger Russians.

This Special Edition Policy Brief by senior associate Dmitri Trenin offers an exceptionally informed and provocative insight into where Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is headed and what it means to the West.

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About the Author
Dmitri Trenin is senior associate and deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.  He is the author of numerous articles and books on Russian security issues, including Russia's Restless Frontier: The Chechnya Factor in Post-Soviet Russia (2004).