The two dominant figures in Russian politics since 1991 have been Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. The country experienced severe economic hardship during Yeltsin's presidency (1991-2000), exacerbated by a costly war against the Chechnyan separatists. Under Putin (2000-present), Russia's fortunes have recovered somewhat, thanks in part to increased revenue from energy production.
Much of Putin's action on the world stage has been influenced by the goal of restoring Russia's status as a world power. This has included a more aggressive stance toward other former Soviet republics on its borders, such as Ukraine and Georgia. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia in support of the pro-Russian separatist entities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, which had been Ukrainian territory since 1991, and lent support to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term in office, Putin stepped into the role of Prime Minister in 2008, while Dmitry Medvedev was elected president. However, in 2012, Putin was reelected. Though controversial abroad and in many sections of Russian society for his autocratic stance on free speech and other individual freedoms, Putin remains highly popular with much of the Russian people.
("Russia," Encyclopedia Britannica; "Russia," A Dictionary of Contemporary World History)