Here's the comment I've written as a guest blogger for PostGlobal's sidebar - a sort of a response to this week's questions by David Ignatius: "Russia's back with a vengeance. Is Putin justified in criticizing NATO expansion? Should Russia's neighbors worry?"
As a rather peaceful citizen of one of Russia's neighbors, I certainly hope that Putin's criticism of NATO expansion is nothing but tough talk. After all, business is going really great for Russia now (or so everyone says) - so why would Putin wish to reverse the trend?
For its neighbors, Russia is not back: it’s always been there.
In Ukraine, we've lived through the noise of the 2003 Tuzla crisis, Putin's repeated visits and misguided greetings of the 2004 election, the gas war of 2005. The tiny Crimea is bursting with geopolitical bitterness, and this diverts attention from vital tourism development efforts and forces way too many people to spend their vacation money in Turkey and Egypt. The Russian-vs-Ukrainian-language non-issue keeps metamorphosing into The Issue every time there is an election. Millions of Ukrainians work in Russia, legally and illegally - a "hands-of-gold drain" rather than brain drain, perhaps.
However, as the past two years have shown, Ukraine's priority should be to worry about its own politicians: they can do much more harm to the country than Russia seems capable of right now.
P.S. Oh, I've just noticed that they've edited out this paragraph:
Russia's famed hospitality has more or less turned into a myth, though, and even some of its own citizens are often forced to feel pretty alien. Perhaps shifting the focus from tough talk directed at outsiders to actually fighting poverty would help return the Russian people into their friendlier selves.
This is the reason I love blogging: I'm my own editor here. :)