"There is thus a lively debate in Russia itself on the country’s orientation. The question is, where does the leadership stand in this debate? The answer is difficult, because not only has Russia become more autocratic under Putin, but the circle of real decision-makers has become ever smaller. According to some accounts, it may consist of no more than five people. But, reviewing the period since 2000, when Putin assumed power, it is plausible that it began with a continuation of a commitment to democracy and a market economy, associated with a growing resentment at lack of consideration on the part of the West to certain deep Russian concerns – NATO enlargement, treatment as a poor supplicant, disregard for what are seen as legitimate interests in the neighbourhood etc. Angela Stent cites a senior German official complaining of an “empathy deficit disorder” in Washington in dealing with Russia.The pathology that this caused became progressively more virulent in the intervening years, culminating in 2003 in the invasion of Iraq without any Security Council mandate, indeed, in open defiance of the UN".
This is the conclusion of a long article by Padraig Murphy in the Dublin Review of Books (he served as the Irish ambassador in Moscow from 1981 to 1985). In it he discusses the history of Russia's attitudes towards, and interactions with, the West. This took place within the context of the Russian elites' views on the proper orientation of the country. For the rest of this conclusion, see below. (FB Ali).