Putin, like Trump, seems to understand that power and showmanship are inseparable, especially for a nation that is traumatized by military and economic losses. It’s a confidence game. “Within the system, Mr. Putin has developed his own idealized view of himself as CEO of ‘Russia, Inc.’ In reality, his leadership style is more like that of a mafia family Don,” write Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy in their book, “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”
Gleb Pavlovsky, who was one of Putin’s key advisers during his rise to power, confided to the Guardian in 2012 that Putin was one of an “unseen, unrepresented layer of people” in Russia who dreamed of a revanche that would recover past glory. “By revanche , I mean the resurrection of the great state in which we lived, which we became used to,” Pavlovsky explained.
Putin laid out his vision of revival in a December 1999 speech that became known as the “Millennium Message.” He stressed the importance of building a strong state that could restore national self-confidence: “Russia has [just] experienced one of the most difficult periods in its many centuries of history. . . . She faces the real danger of becoming not just a second- but even a third-tier country. To prevent this from happening, we need an immense effort from all the nation’s intellectual, physical and moral forces.”