When he first came to power in 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed a smart, tough, competent manager, someone who was determined to bring stability to Russia, which was in free fall at the time, reeling from internal chaos, economic stagnation and a default in 1998. He sought to integrate Russia into the world and wanted good relations with the West, asking Washington for Russian membership in both the World Trade Organization and even in NATO.
Over time, however, Putin established order in the country and control over society. He also presided over a booming economy, as oil prices quadrupled under his watch. So he began creating a repressive system of political, economic and social control to maintain his power.
As he faced opposition, particularly in the parliamentary elections of 2011, Putin recognized that he needed more than just brute force to defeat his opponents – he needed an ideology of power. The crucial elements of Putinism are nationalism, religion, social conservatism, state capitalism, and government domination of the media. They work in tandem to sustain Putin's popularity…
…The success of Putinism ultimately will depend a great deal on the success of Putin and Russia under him. If he triumphs in Ukraine, turning it into a basket case that eventually comes begging to Moscow, he will look like a winner. If, on the other hand, Ukraine succeeds outside of Russia's orbit, leaders like Victor Orban might regret having cast their lot with a globally-isolated Siberian petro-state.