June 25, 2015 6:27 AM EDT

Amid tensions between Russia and the West, President Vladimir Putin is often portrayed as a villain reviving a Cold War–style dictatorship. But historian Walter Laqueur argues in his new book, Putinism: Russia and Its Future With the West, that Putin is exactly the kind of “anti-Western” leader most Russians have wanted for decades. Historically, it’s what they’re comfortable with. Attempts to establish democracy in 1917 and after the collapse of the Soviet system in the late ’80s resulted in chaos and uncertainty. And in Russia, Laqueur writes, “chaos is much more feared than authoritarian rule and dictatorship.” For that reason, it’s unlikely Putin’s foreign relations will improve–at least not anytime soon.

–OLIVIA B. WAXMAN

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.

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