The Russian revolution in 1917 was the start of veneration of Russia as a sort of leftist utopia. It continued even when Stalinist Russia was known to be far from that utopia.
The Russian peoples have rarely known anything but oppression, and while the lives of city dwellers in Moscow and St Petersburg may have got better, those in other areas have not gained much improvement. Under what was called communism, people's lives were very utilitarian, with much of the riches in their command economy directed towards the military. After the dissolution of the USSR in the 1990s, state enterprises were taken over by those close to power, leading many to become billionaire oligarchs kept rich by those in power, though many are just nominal name-holders for Putin's wealth.
The 1917 Bolshevik revolution was seen by many as a portent of a world where people take power from their oppressors. Of course, Russia falling to communism was seen as a threat to rich industrialised nations, and so the battle was on for the hearts and minds of their citizens. However, instead of actually making their societies better, they demonised Russia and communism to create a fear of being invaded and suppressed as a cover for their own suppression and lack of support for their citizens.
The demonisation of Russia created a siege mentality in their leaders with Stalin eliminating all challengers and becoming a dictator while dispensing with any sense of true communism other than seizing all the means of production, but to his own ends. However, the glamour of being some sort of society where people mattered seemed to endure in the west for decades. Now a lot of the glamour is about Putin being a strong-man who is resisting the corruption of western liberalism, especially by many right-wing politicians and groups who see Russia as a role model for their own countries.
Of course Russia was a role model for many so-called liberators to become despots in China, North Korea, Cambodia, Cuba and Vietnam. Russia exploited turmoil in those countries to gain influence, with many readily willing to accept it, but eventually happy to go with their own brand of dictatorship. Unfortunately, through all this malign influence, Russia is still seen by many as some sort of model for how to escape from what they see as decline in their own countries.
The problem with all the delusion about Russia is that actually having a society like it would be disastrous for those filled with glamours about it. Russia is about suppressing and controlling those with political ambitions, which would immediately put those with such dreams on a collision course with whichever dictator did obtain power in their own countries. Those with power don't tolerate deviating from towing the line. Militias are suppressed unless they are disciplined enough to be used for manipulating dissidents, otherwise they are eliminated like Hitler did with the Brown Shirts.
Freedom is a fine balance between the state and what individuals can choose to do. Having a dictator in power without means of removing them will always result in less freedom, especially for those who love to show off their guns. Why would a dictator want masses of rabid militias when they have the disciplined ranks of their armed forces and police at their disposal? The real problem with those befuddled by delusions is that they don't take into account the reality of what they want. Russia is a delusion of a people paradise that looks and acts like a dictatorship. Time to wake up!
Several western commentators have suggested that former satellite states joining NATO has unnecessarily made Russia feel threatened and say that this is deliberate US policy.
This sentiment seems to come from a stance that no one else matters except the US and Russia. The US having bases in many of the western European countries that are autonomous states is not the same as the Russian installation of puppet governments and suppression that occurred in eastern Europe. Those eastern states wanted to join NATO because Russia still had imperialist ambitions and they did not feel safe. To deny them that just because it would hurt Russia's feelings is a betrayal of how those eastern states couldn't wait to throw off Russian influence.
Each nation should be allowed to choose what trans-national organisations they want to join, and it is up to Russia to accept that. Just because Russia does not want to accept that is not a reason to deny those states their choices. Yes it upset Russia, but that is because Russia is in their own delusion about their importance and their expectation of restoring themselves to former glory. That glory was a delusion not shared by those they suppressed and they rejected it when the USSR dissolved and they reject it now.
Of course, it is not really Russia that is lamenting the loss of glory, but the delusion of the psychopath Putin. He is a bully with nuclear weapons, and it is only because of the latter that Russia has much influence. Putin duped western nations into accepting Russian fossil fuels in good faith, but due to being cut off when they supported Ukraine, they have found alternatives, weakening Russia further in the mid to long term.
Ukraine has shown how little Putin can be trusted, so trying to appease him will not work. The only way to treat psychopaths is to deny them power. Of course, it is up to the Russian people to deal with Putin, but as long as they align themselves with him, or at least make no significant effort to remove him, they will have to accept that Putin has made Russia a pariah that is being isolated on the world stage. All Russia's so-called allies do not trust them either, so are only helping because they can get fuel cheaper, but otherwise are staying neutral.
If Ukraine had already been part of NATO, Russia would not have invaded it, which is exactly why every country bordering Russia that is not aligned with it now wants to join NATO. Commentators who seek to discount their real concerns in favour of Russia's self-deluded fears is totally missing the point. Russia is afraid of a world that has moved on. The US has moved on, and is choosing cooperation rather than domination. Russia is stuck in a failed political paradigm, and that has led to its decline and isolation. Continuing with its delusions will make it irrelevant, despite nuclear weapons.