- Absolute autocracy of the ruler, even by the European mediaeval standards.
- Expansionism: Whatever is beyond your state's border is your sphere of influence; and what is the sphere of your influence, should become your possession one day.
- Paranoia: The others are probably like me, which means they are evil, too!
- Breaking promises: My pledge is perfectly reliable until I decide otherwise.
- Hunger for power: Power is the most intelligible language for negotiations.
It doesn't look pretty, but that's the way it is. All Russian rulers have been autocrats, even the benign ones. (Ironically, the benign rulers usually ended up sadly. Tsar Alexander II abolished serfdom in 1861 and was assassinated twenty years later. The poor monarch was killed by left-wing terrorists shortly before he would implement democratic reforms that would make Russia a Western-style parliamentary state. What a bitter irony.)
To this day, Russia is an expansionist paranoid autocracy, whose promises can't be believed. She has problems to understand any other language except for power.
A good example of Russian mentality is the attitude to the former Soviet Empire vassal states. Many Russians have never realised that Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, etc., are free and sovereign states now. According to the Russian way of thinking, these vassal states were only handed over by one sovereign (Russia) to another sovereign (the West or the USA).
Some Russians keep complaining that the West hasn't kept its promise not to enlarge NATO to the Eastern European countries. Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly accused the West of violating its commitments made during the negotiations over German reunification.
Well, Medvedev has never got it. “The West” is not an autocracy the way Russia is. Therefore, the West could have never made such a promise. Importantly, the Eastern European countries are no longer vassal states. They can hardly be denied access to international organisations, such as NATO, on the grounds of “promises” allegedly given to Russians.
Some Russians are naïve enough to think that the West is “encircling” Russia with the likely aim to invade her. Oh, come on. Nobody in the West considers Russia to be the enemy worth fighting. Nobody wants to conquer Russia, seize her land and enslave her people; neither the former nor the latter is necessary. The West has plenty of issues itself, and its military operations in Afghanistan are already expensive enough.
The West has made the mistake of meddling in Ukraine because that country is simply not worth the efforts. Should it join the EU, it would bring about immense costs in subsidies, and nobody believes there's a real possibility of Ukraine joining the NATO.
Russian leaders are fools if they believe the West is the enemy. The West is not a single entity, after all. Admittedly, some EU officials would like to see the European Union ranging from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains in their wet dreams, but these fools lack the power to realise it. People in democratic countries are usually not fond of building empires.
The Moscow's folly is, however, possibly dangerous for Russia herself. While she mistakenly feels she is endangered from the West, she feeds the dragon in the East. The dragon, however, may eat her one day.
More on the Sino-Russian gas contract will come later.