While Iran appears to be recognizing the need to reform its domestic politics and change its attitude toward the West, Russia is turning into a massively corrupt police state and is apparently thriving in the atmosphere of confrontation. The contrast between these two regimes has become strikingly sharp as nuclear negotiations approached the final stretch toward a binding agreement. Moscow still tries to present itself as a responsible stake-holder in the international system. But with every turn of the screw in the government’s repressions against members of the domestic opposition—stigmatized as “traitors” and “foreign agents”—Russia’s external behavior tends to turn erratic. Putin tries to maintain the appearance of confident statesmanship, but his subordinates remain eager to repeatedly violate international law because this law is after them. The survival of Putin’s Russia depends upon the inability of international institutions to deter its militarism and to punish aggression; and Moscow is set to discover which step along its path of “hybrid war” escalation will be the one too far.
This is the bottom line from the article in Eurasia Daily Monitor, April