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Russia in a Nutshell': Learn the Real Reasons Why Russia Is So Big -- And So Brutal

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"Conquer or be conquered."

Image via YouTube

Geography determines destiny — so goes the historian's saying.

Does Russia's geography explain the nation's history of bloodshed, overbearing government, secret police and poverty — and does it explain why Vladimir Putin is such a bellicose president?

Image via YouTube Image via YouTube

In a video published on YouTube earlier this year, geopolitical guru Caspian Report took a look at Russia's history and geography and made the essential connections: Occupying a vast, flat land without significant mountains or seas to serve as natural barriers, the Russian people were forced to become brutal and bureaucratic in order to survive.

After throwing off Mongol and Tatar domination in the first half of the last millennium, Russia's rulers found themselves in a "conquer or be conquered" situation, Caspian Report noted.

Seeking security, Russia's czars led their people on a massive quest to expand, taking over lands to the south, west and especially east.

They could not keep invaders from attacking, but by taking over huge swathes of territory, Russia's rulers could ensure that Russia always had a "backup plan" to fall back on — and that plan proved invaluable when Napoleon and Hitler came rampaging through.

Image via YouTube Image via YouTube

Such a far-flung empire seemed impossible to hold together, taking Russia down an expensive path of powerful, centralized government that led ultimately to Soviet rule and the KGB.

Now, as former KGB agent Putin leads the country, it's historically apparent why he's working to reassert Russian dominance over Ukraine and the entire Eurasian region.

Watch Caspian Report's entire video below:

The video was receiving rave reviews on Reddit Saturday morning.

"I wish there were more videos like this that explain history in a really quick and straight-forward way, shot like a documentary," one commenter wrote. "For someone with a short attention span, it's a better way to learn than books or taking a class in Russian history."

"VERY informative, best 10 minutes I spent this week watching [Y]ou[T]ube," another commenter wrote. "[R]ussia in a nutshell."

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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