The minimum you must know
Although a lot of leaders deserve tremendous credit recently, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has done more to win peace over the past twenty-years than virtually any other leader in the same timeframe. He has initiated, hosted and participated in more peace talks (and consequently saved more lives) than any other leader. He is a uniquely extraordinary leader on peace.
President Putin's leadership on peace isn't well known to western populations, because Russia has traditionally been viewed as an adversary of the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. In fact, Russia has tolerated decades of economic restrictions from western countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin is often portrayed in the west as an intimidating adversary who is only loved by his own people. However, he has consistently sought peace and won improving relations with all peace-loving nations. There is a significant opportunity for populations in Russia, the United States and Europe to develop mutual understanding and consequently great relations as a result. (Everyone involved will enjoy improving relations so much that they’ll wonder why it didn’t happen generations ago.)
When President Vladimir Putin was first elected overwhelmingly to lead the Russian Federation in 2000 (with more votes than his top ten political competitors combined), Russia had more challenges than any new leader could have been expected to handle well. His predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, was initially popular and even respected for turning Russia from a soviet state into a capitalist society. Many hoped he could improve relations with the United States and Europe as a result, and even fully integrate the country into the global economy. But Yeltsin didn't present himself confidently enough to lead effectively, and squandered his country's human and financial resources. Yeltsin left lawlessness unsolved. He eventually neglected all of the Russia’s financial obligations to foreign companies and governments. Russia's rampant crime affected average Russians and Russia's reputation abroad.
When President Yeltsin recognized his own administration’s inability to lead competently and confidently, he let his cabinet go, and then departed office early. A dozen candidates competed. President Putin was the leading one. He was instantly the popular hope for the nation, and won a commanding majority in a competitive election, taking control of a country in great need of his leadership excellence.
President Putin confidently made Russia successful faster than anyone expected. His initial efforts contributed significantly to the success of the country. President Putin quickly created domestic stability and global credibility that benefitted Russian citizens immeasurably. He halted government waste immediately, and brought respect and fiscal discipline to governance so effectively that the government turned profitable for the first time in decades.
Within two years of taking office, President Putin’s administration restored the country's foreign currency reserves, and therefore was able to meet all of the country's debt obligations. This was an important accomplishment for the enjoyment and morale of the Russian people, and for restoring their credibility with the west. Russia currently has a positive net worth and twenty-year track record of great relationships with foreign investors. Partly as a result, Russia's economy went from last place in Europe and Asia to now around the annual revenue of France or Spain. Although the global economy lacked exuberance in 2020, including in Russia, where the lifestyle of average Russian workers has considerably more to improve, President Putin successfully created an optimistic more pleasant future for the country. It's an accomplishment and opportunity for Russian citizens that their economy’s revenue is similar to the most successful countries in the world.
President Putin also convinced his population to both love their country and respect their government's authority. This was important to achieve because safe unified countries tend to be more successful. The Russian government started standing up to crime, which was vitally important for Russia's economy, because investors will only travel to places they feel safe, and invest where their agreements are going to be respected and enforced. He brought order to a proverbial "Wild West," calming millions of people who respected Russia's leadership for the first time, and could become gainful employers, employees and partners to people in other countries. He created for Russia an economy ready for global integration.
President Putin’s administration even modeled Russia after the United States in some ways. The government created respect for property and minority rights for the first time. Russian citizens started counting on the state to ensure their valuable possessions were their own. This was especially important after the soviet era because it created more incentive for citizens to work hard and contribute, because they knew they could keep what they made. Benefits of success can be enjoyed in Russia the same way they can in western societies.
Minorities also gained the possibility of winning stature and respect in industry, government and society. People of various ethnicities and with various religious views who were merely tolerated before President Putin took office, gained credibility. Russians became encouraged to celebrate diversity. People with various skin tones, religious traditions and even lifestyle choices gained the opportunity to be respected and even prominent members of society, participating in government and industry fully. Russians haven’t achieved the living standards that can exist in the wealthiest European countries yet. But the Russian people have a lot to look forward to given the country's existing progress and economic growth.
People in the United States may not be aware of how there's more freedom in Russia than in most countries around the world. In fact, there’s arguably more freedom in Russia than in some European countries. Free speech isn’t only protected in Russia. It’s considered a right. People enjoy speaking freely, and expect their government to keep them safe from retribution. More government investment is necessary for there to be fast internet speeds reaching all homes. But internet is common on phones and desktop computers, as well as in and around street cafes. The Russian government views Google, Google Maps, Twitter.com and Facebook.com with a degree of suspicion, because of the amount of data they can collect on Russian citizens. But they're accessible. Russians can visit websites the same way that Americans can. Russians enjoy similar internet freedoms as Americans.
President Putin enjoys the full support of Russia's mainstream media. He has more credibility with Russia's press than many western politicians do with theirs. But the Russian government protects reporters critical of the administration, too. Russian press safely surface questions and criticisms for the Russian President the same way press in other countries do, which President Putin encourages during lengthy call-in shows held at least annually. In fact, most U.S. news services are available over the internet in Russia, including via the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN News and Fox News websites. U.S. anchors sometimes gain popularity in Russia as a result. Larry King, for instance, was famous in Russia after he left CNN, because he hosted Russia's leading news show. (King interviewed multiple U.S. presidents on CNN. But U.S. presidents surprisingly neglected the opportunity to speak openly and directly to the Russian people on his subsequent show broadcast throughout Russia.)