Two articles currently up on Policy Innovations paint very different pictures of Russia. In Russia and the New Great Game, Sacha Tessier-Stall looks at the emergence of Russia as a player in global energy markets and Chess Takes World, by yours truly, details Russia's decline as the sole chess superpower.
So which is the true face of Russia? The once powerful bear in a desperate search for the glory of lost empire? Or the resurgent modern petro-state with money and muscle to spare?
I don't pretend to have the answer. But, when it comes to Russia, my mind often turns to the question of demographics. Russia is 621,00 square miles in size, with a population of 141 million. That makes it twice the size of the United States, with half the people. That does not bode well for a country with 2,300 mile border with China.
Russia is blessed with an abundance of resources save the one that matters most: people.