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Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has struggled to redefine itself on the world stage.

But today, it appears much bolder, more confident and ready to exert its authority.

In the past week Russia was the first country to recognise the self-proclaimed government of Kyrgyzstan, which claims it will even get financial support from Moscow.

And, even in this time of grief for Poland, following the plane crash that killed the president and dozens of political, military and religious leaders, there are signs of reconciliation with Russia.

Relations with the Ukraine have also warmed following the election of the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanuckovich in February.

So, what is the Russian sphere of influence and how does this affect the rest of the world? And how much of Russia's image as a world power is myth, and how much reality?

Inside Story, with presenter Hamish McDonald, discusses with guests: Dmitri Babich, a political analyst with Russia Profile magazine; Alexander Nekrassov, a former advisor to President Boris Yeltsin; and Fred Weir, the Christian Science Monitor's correspondent in Russia.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera