Publication: Russia and Eurasia Review Volume: 1 Issue: 11

By Dale R. Herspring

The hostage crisis in the Nord Ost Theater was the sternest challenge yet for President Vladimir Putin. Had he mishandled it, he might have faced the end of his presidency. Judging by the reactions of ordinary Russians in the week afterwards, however, he seems to have survived with his authority intact, possibly even strengthened. There were no great surprises.

Although it is barely two years since Putin assumed office, we have seen enough to allow us to begin to make some tentative judgments about him and his style of governance. And that governance does define him to some degree. First, as a patriot devoted to re-creating the Russian state while making it a force to be reckoned with both at home and abroad; second, as a bureaucrat primarily interested in solving problems; and third, as a man who is flexible in his approach to dealing with issues, a person who deals with problems in an incremental fashion but is prepared to seize opportunities. Putin is not ideological when it comes to solving problems. He believes, very simply, that Russian problems require Russian solutions.