The Russia of Vladimir Putin is now in effect a superpower that has in its hand the destiny of numerous countries and is challenging China and the United States for a new multipolar world. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many have believed that Moscow would have lost its global standing. However in that past few years, the Kremlin has risen from the ashes, managing to rebuild itself as a decisive power on the world stage.

However Russia is not just Putin, nor is it only a military or energy power. There is also another Russia we have reported on these last years. It is one that is more profound and bucolic. We have written about life in Kuzbass, where an enormous mining quarry has been dug without respect or consideration to the natural habitat nor to the wellbeing of the local population. The effects of this are plain to see, with the life expectancy of people in this area four years lower than the national average. In a similar case, the forced industrialisation of land near Šori in Kemerovo forced inhabitants to abandon their ancestral land.

This fragile and cloaked Russia is in contrast to the superpower image which has attracted the attention of political movements and governments the world over, not just in Europe. The Eastern wind blows across the European continent, and there are many who would like to renew their bond with Russia after so many years of tension between NATO and Moscow. However the wars in Syria and the Ukraine have further deteriorated relations with the west. Many western powers live with a profound sense of “Russia-phobia”.