Russia's surprising return to the world stage since 2000 has aroused the curiosity--if not the fear--of the West. Gradually, the Kremlin went from a policy of deference to foreign powers to acting with independence. The driver of this transformation was President Vladimir Putin, who with skillful caution navigated Russia back into the ranks of global powers. In theaters of conflict such as Georgia, Syria and Ukraine, the Kremlin won significant victories at little cost to consolidate its decisive position. Following a chronological approach from the fall of the Soviet Union to the present, this book draws on new documents to describe how Russia regained its former global prominence, with clear accounts of key decisions and foreign policy events--many presented for the first time--and important insights into the major confrontations with the West.