Situation in Russia after the Soviet Union lost the cold war and collapsed reminds me of the situation in Germany, but even more in Austria after the First World War. There too, the former empire lost a significant part of its territory and its status as a big power. One of the results of this defeat and the following economic crisis was rise of nationalism and replacement of ailing and inefficient democracy with a conservative dictatorship of Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. It was a dictatorship, but compared with the German Nazi one, a relatively mild one. There were no mass murders or concentration camps in Austria, only a handful of opponents were sentenced to death after an armed conflict between troops loyal to him and rebels. Dollfuss himself was later killed by Nazis, and his successor Schuschnigg pushed aside and imprisoned when Hitler annexed Austria. Without doubt Germany and the whole world would have been a much better place if Germany itself had chosen the Austrian way, replacing the weak and unpopular democracy with a conservative dictatorship with strong nationalist and clerical orientation.
This is - fortunately - something that is happening in Russia. Nothwithstanding the undemocratic manners of the Putin-Medvedev regime, it is, in my opinion, the least of several potential evils. Rise to power of the quite influential Communists or extreme nationalists would be a disaster both for Russia and its neighbours. Following the course taken by the regime I feel that it is making an effort to find a balance between the extremist forces and the liberals both in and outside of the country. But with the rise of militant nationalism in Russia and the Putin-bashing that has become quite a routine in Washington and some other Western capitals, it has made some concessions to the nationalists. AI think there is little chance of Russia going the German way, following the Nazi model as long as Putin and his entourage are in power. Thus, it would be wise not to weaken their position with unnecessary rhetoric and steps Russia cannot but consider a strategic threat. In the present-day world the West, Russia and China should forget their ideological and even geopolitical differences and form an alliance to hinder the dark forces of religious extremism and chaos to become too powerful. I think the world needs a kind of a consensus between the big powers similar to what was achieved in Vienna in 1815. We need a kind of the Holy Alliance to preserve at least some peace and stability in the world. The world is too small to allow it to be dominated by quarrels between its great powers. And Russia and China must not feel they are considered, first of all, geopolitical adversaries by the US.