The key reason for the success of Russia's foreign policy in the past years is the weakness of the West. Our president has demonstrated lightning quick reaction in advancing wherever there are gaps," Veniamin Popov, former ambassador to Yemen, Libya and Tunisia, told the FT. "We can advance so fast because our diplomats received excellent education back in the Soviet times, have unique experience, and our team demonstrates exceptional stability."
 
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people left the diplomatic service. Things have changed now, according to Mr. Popov. "Today young people dream of becoming diplomats again," he said. But "there is still a deficit of middle-level staff."