I agree with you John. Russia wants it's empire back. Once it got stronger after the Soviet collapse, it wanted to reoccupy all it's former Soviet republics. But, some of the former Soviet republics were smart enough to get into NATO before it was too late. And it seems these Soviet republics are doing much better economically. You would think that the Russians would want to build a strong economy like the former Soviet republics. What's with the Russians on this? Aren't they smart enough to want the same thing and build a strong economy? Or they just interested in military conquest even if means having a shitty economy?
Current problem is the regime, it wants to rule forever and its crony capitalist corrupt system is not working like any other system of the sort. You can't have prosperity when there is basically no rule of law and so on. The main reason why Liberal Democracies are so rich in a very general sense is because we value people and invest in to them while other systems don't care that much about the people and just want to extract resources, produce something and so on. You don't get rich by using your people as disposable garbage. You do get rich by investing in your people so they will find ways to make money themselves.
I do not think that any nation is hopeless to change; however, I think that some nations do require a lot more effort than others to become changed. - Verv