Along with political stability, the years of Vladimir Putin's presidency have featured a movement towards increasingly centralized power in Russia and an economic boom.
Additionally, Russia has become increasingly outspoken, independent and sometimes even aggressive on the international stage. This shift has become apparent in all areas of Russia's foreign policy, and this increased sense of national pride - along with some less pleasant effects of nationalism - has been a major theme of the Putin presidency. Marching to this tune has certainly contributed to Putin's domestic popularity.
Russia and the West: From cooperation in antiterrorist operations in the early 2000s to the harsh rhetoric of 2007
At the beginning of his presidency, Putin appeared willing to be associated with the leaders of the West, possibly even to a greater degree than his predecessor. Putin was much younger and more energetic than Yeltsin, spoke fluent German and was certainly a better fit among his Western counterparts at the time. Most observers then thought Putin's foreign policy objective was for Russia to become a European country and believed that one of Putin's personal aims was to be perceived as a modern leader who was strengthening Russian democracy.