During the fiist 30 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the former Soviet republics were like teenagers who graduated school at a time of historical transformation.
Three of them enrolled at EU universities, found employment in the EU, grew old, had no children, and look down on their classmates as enlightened Europeans. Others joined their fathers’ businesses, worked hard, made a career, had big families, are respected by their neighbours, but could not hold a conversation with graduates of European universities. The dreamer in school still sings his own songs on the guitar, imagining himself to be a Mayne Reid character. One got involved in tracing his own genealogy. Another wanted to study in Europe too, but was rejected. The kid in the next row is a business owner. The one in the front row made a career in the military. As in most cases when classmates meet 30 years after graduation, they learn that nobody turned out to be a massive success or failure, and everyone thinks that they have something to be proud of. Some are sure that they have made it in life and pity their classmates. These reunions are usually quite lively, and while there are cliques, they are quite different than 30 years ago.
Any comparison of the former Soviet republics is bound to be inaccurate, because they are such wildly disparate countries with hardly a common parameter for comparison. They have different foreign policy goals. What is a blessing to some is a curse to others. Sharing its sovereignty with the United States is a dream come true for Estonia. For Russia, this would be a historical catastrophe. At best, they can be classified according to approximate parameters, such as the growth of per capita GDP over the past 30 years, population growth/decline, and involvement in international alliances and armed conflicts.