Russia is spending more on its military. We see what’s happening in Ukraine and Syria. It’s sending a flotilla through the English Channel, overflying airspace very close to NATO's airspace with bombers and fighters. The Russians are showing that they are a military power to be reckoned with.
"One way to divert people's attention from internal problems is to have an external enemy such as the West"
One of the factors pushing it behind the scenes is the fact that the economy is in a dire state. For the last 25 years, since the breakup of the Soviet Union the Russians have said something must be done to make the country less dependent on natural resources. It's just been words. Yes, there are businesses but there is no real base of small and medium enterprises in Russia. So they're still very much dependent on oil, gas, timber – the big state industries. And if the world price goes down they are seriously affected. This is what’s happened in the last two years.
Sanctions by the West have also had an effect. Most ordinary Russians won’t be too bothered if they can't buy a Camembert cheese because they wouldn't have bought one anyway. The nouveau riche travel abroad and they can get their Camembert abroad. But where it's really hit is down the fact that Russian banks can no longer take out large international loans. That is having a huge effect on the economy.
So one way to divert people's attention from internal problems is to have an external enemy such as the West. And for those Russians who have little or no exposure to the outside world, that strategy is working.