Geography and Culture.
Russia has part of its roots in European culture where the ideas of goodness, honor, and freedom are understood as in the West. The Viking raiders came from the North. Traders from Scandinavia also settled. They became the rulers of Rus, the city-principality of Kiev and forerunner of the Russian state. The other part of Russia has Asian roots. The Mongols, [Tartars] conquered Moscow in 1234 and Kiev in 1240, and ruled with despotism, invaders unstoppable, making Russians their slaves. Russian blood is a mixture of Slavic, Finnish, and Tatar. Kievan Rus had converted to Orthodox Christianity in 988. When Moscow liberated itself from the Tartar yoke in 1480, the modern Russian state was born. Distant from Europe, the new state was cut off from Constantinople which in 1453 had fallen to the Muslim Ottoman Turks. The Russian Orthodox Church, isolated from the rest of Christianity, developed independently as a national church. Russia regarded itself as the third and Last Rome, successor to Rome and Constantinople, the two capitals of the Roman Empire which had fallen to barbarians and infidels. It’s mission as the new center of Christianity was to unite the people of the East and West. The rulers of Russia began to use the title tsar, derived from Caesar. Remote from the West, Russia experienced none of the major developments which shaped modern Europe. The Renaissance happened in the West, with its revival of classical influence and the flowering of the arts, development of modern agriculture and commerce, the scientific revolution, economic liberalism and recognition of individual rights, the beginnings of political liberty, and the growth of a strong middle class. In the West, the middle class was in the forefront of reform. Russia’s failure to develop a strong middle class delayed reform. Russia remained a vast, backward, largely agriculture empire, regimented and ruled by an autocratic dynasty with a holy mission to defend its faith against the barbarians of the East and the heresies and pluralism of the West. Thus, to remote Russia, many things “Western” have come late – manufacturing, higher education, science, etc.