When I lived in Budapest, the war in Kosovo was still going on, and the war in Bosnia was only recently over. Everyone lived with the general feeling that - at any moment - Russia would be back. There was this constant, looming pall from the East.
Yeah, they would have to come through the Ukraine and Poland to get to Hungary, but... those parts of the Ukraine and Poland are basically Europe's version of Kansas. Lotsa farmland, and few people.
On the other hand, every single Russian I knew was absolutely positive that Russia was on the brink of utter destruction, and - any day now - the entire house of cards was coming down. The Russians had so little confidence in their government, they were really fatalistic. More so than anywhere else I had been, including South Africa, Macedonia, and Bosnia.
I have the strong feeling that Putin is the average Russian's Trump... a bombastic blowhard who holds far more power and influence than anybody should have let him have.
But... he has survived. Through HUGE turmoil. And he has successfully expanded Russia's borders for the first time since WWI.
So what a dichotomy! I can imagine my Russian friends saying, "This loon Putin has been successful at making us not die! Um... yay Putin? I guess?"