Vladimir Putin is not a figure it would be desirable to support unambiguously. Whilst he has maintained impressive control on many areas of Russian society, and whilst he has overseen undoubted improvements both economically and in terms of national self-esteem, since Yeltsin’s disastrous tenure, he has done so by making unpalatable compromises and allowing a criminal elite to become almost unassailable.
The democratic credentials of Putin’s regime are also questionable, but these credentials have been sacrificed at the alter of much greater stability, steady economic growth and enhancing international prestige. A securocrat elite may have been the principle beneficiaries of Putin’s patronage, but the oligarchic elite favoured by the west are more distasteful still.
Giving legitimacy to criminal capitalists such as Berezovsky and providing support to opposition spearheaded by figures such as Lebedev are gross hypocrisy at best. The main crux of US and British concern as to events in Russia, is the diminution of unipolar American / Western hegemony.
The West wishes to encroach upon Russia’s near abroad without any consequence. The US want to place missile protection sites as close as possible to Russia’s borders yet not incur any retaliatory action.
On this issue Putin is entirely justified. These weapons systems are being provocatively and unnecessarily sited next to a perceived threat to American power, It is incumbent upon Russia to address this disparity..