Sergei Karaganov, the chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy of Russia, a state-funded advisory group, swears that “Russia will never spoil its relations with Iran.” But he concedes that the Kremlin might be persuaded “to change its mind if America agrees to serious compromises and stops enlarging NATO to the east, stops the Cold War in Europe, and accepts a Russian sphere of influence.”
That idea of a “sphere of influence”—or what Medvedev, a little more tactfully, calls a “zone of special interests”—is really a budget version of the old empire.
So far there have been few signs of an attempt to move beyond imperial thinking, with school curriculums and national holidays all continuing to emphasize the country’s lost greatness. “Russia has been an empire for most of its history; we don’t know how to act as a national state,” says [Mikhail] Margelov [chairman of the committee for foreign affairs in the Federation Council]. (photo: topnews.in)