Having compassion for Russia does not mean overlooking its faults. Rather, it means understanding how that nation’s traumatic history has contributed to its behaving in ways that otherwise would mystify us. If we see Russia more clearly, our actions will be more effective in meeting our nation’s goals, while also reducing the risk of Russia acting like “a bear in a china shop.”
Russia has been repeatedly invaded, with horrendous consequences, making it extremely sensitive to turmoil or foreign troops near its borders. Today, when we expand NATO or speak of bringing Western values to Russia and its environs, we think in terms of expanding democracy and human rights. But Russians tend to see our actions as a renewed attempt at religious, cultural and political subjugation.
They also see democracy very differently from us. The Yeltsin era, which is celebrated in the West as the most democratic period in Russia, today is held in disdain by most Russians. Life savings were wiped out by hyperinflation and the country’s most valuable assets were stolen by oligarchs.
Source: Stanford Magazine – Article
A bit of colour: Martin E. Hellman is best known for his his invention, with Diffie and Merkle, of public key cryptography, the technology that, among other uses, enables secure Internet transactions. It is used to transfer literally trillions of dollars every day. He has been a long-time contributor to the computer privacy debate, and was a key participant in the “first crypto war” of the late 1970s and early 80s that established the right of academic cryptographic researchers to publish their papers, free of government interference.