For anyone out there interested in how to understand Russia, this piece comes the closest I have seen to an accurate theoretical rendering of what is happening there.
Russian Transimperialism and Its Implications By Dr. Celeste Wallander, Professor at American University's School of International Service and now Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia
Her term 'transimperialism' might be a bit misleading if you haven't read the piece, but the insight here is real.
I've got a series of interviews tomorrow and Friday to judge whether I am worthy of the Alfa Bank fellowship, which would allow me to work in Moscow for a year. We'll see how that goes. [knock on wood]