In the past, Russia was an empire, then a communist colossus, then a 'defeated' power expected to adopt Western ways. But current tensions with the West are fostering what may be the birth of a distinct Russian nationalism.
Poles have joined critics in Moscow and eastern Ukraine in opposing a new Ukrainian law that would grant World War II-era nationalists an honored status. The nationalists killed tens of thousands of Poles during the war.
No one in Russian-speaking Kharkiv wants to follow rebels into open revolt. But locals say Kiev has no idea how badly it's aggravating the region with its initiatives, including the 'Great Wall of Ukraine.'
The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine on Monday called for incremental steps to de-escalate the fighting in eastern Ukraine. But the two sides have yet to agree on a long-term political settlement.
The Kremlin may use the pomp and circumstance of the annual celebration to improve its own image. But the day is also dear to average Russians – who see Western leaders' decision to stay away as offensive.
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has turned the nominally Russian region into a legal black hole where Russian law doesn't apply. On Wednesday, he told his forces to shoot any Russian federal officer in the territory without his permission.