Re: Comparable in intent but not execution
Russia has been arguably braver (choose your own adjective here) to push the envelope of developing an aggressive capability (in this case, not defensive; separate question) which has greater rewards and some risks.
Russia is much poorer. They ranked 12th in the world on nominal GDP last year - smaller than Italy, Canada or South Korea. Although obviously labour costs are lower - so for something manpower intensive they're at much less disadvantage.
There's an ex diplomat that I read sometimes, Charles Crawford. And one of his sayings when talking about Putin's policies is, "chaos is fair". Hadn't realised it was a quote from The Joker until I looked it up.
The idea being the the Soviets lost the Cold War on the economy but if the ex-KGB people running the place can be cleverer, then unleashing chaos knackers everyone equally. But they're willing to take more pain (well inflict on their own citizens who have no choice in the matter), than the West is - and maybe they also bet that they can dance better...
There's a bit of a 1930s feel to the Russian leadership, we didn't lose the Cold War, we were betrayed. The German 1918 "stab in the back" thing again. Because I guess the alternative is admitting that the system they served was both evil, and useless. Even though I doubt many were believing communists, as the KGB even then was plugged into organised crime.
They also profitted from the chaos of the Yeltsin years, so why not again? The same playbook two, making money via criminal gangs, or via exploiting the privatisation of state enterprises - or later stealing those off the people who originally stole them, to entrench their powerbase.
The question is, do they have an objective? Or is more a case of fuck the lot of you, if we can't have everything we want we'll screw it all up for you as well? I suspect they're quite a nihilistic lot. They joined the Communist party in the 70s, when it was already clear to many how badly it was going - but that was the only way to get ahead. And the way to get luxuries (or even neccessities) was corruption and the black market.
So I guess this is just their normal playbook now. And damn the consequences.