The Sources of Russian Conduct

Sixty years after Kennan, Russia still baffles. But Putin's managed pluralism has deep roots in Russian opinion.

Issue: Spring 2004

The political personality of Russian power today is the product both of ideology and circumstances. George Kennan's observations, made nearly sixty years ago, are just as valid today when considering Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Too often, outside observers have first created their image of Russia, and then located the appropriate facts and personalities to support their construction. To get Russia right, we must seek to understand it as it understands itself, not as we might wish it to be.

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