Newly inaugurated President Dimitry Medvedev emphasized in his first speech to the nation the importance of treating “seriously any attempt to sow racial or religious enmity, forment the ideology of terror and extremism, meddle in other states’ affairs and, especially, any attempt to redraw boundaries. The tone was less strident than Putin’s aggressive stance when speaking to his nation or the world. Ironically, the Medvedev speech was given as thousands of Russian troops and tanks marched by in the first such demonstration of power since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. It was difficult to ascertain if Medvedev was offering a new turn for his nation in which law and justice are important or whether he was telling the world Russia has come of age both economically and militarily.
Although, Russia’s armed forces put on an interesting show, there is scant evidence it is an effective fighting force. Morale is low, soldiers lack training in modern techniques and the air force and submarine fleet are no match for many other nations. Hopefully, Medvedev will focus on creating the basis of a democratic government.