Since I'm a Russian myself (boom, big suprise!):
Actually I don't see how we're more tough or badass than any other nation's men out there. Surely we have many differences in our mentality when you compare us to western nations, but not in being tough or something (majority of my American friends find us way more cold blooded and cool headed in extreme situations, hatred towards political correctness and less whining when it comes down to bad service, i.e. we won't sue McDonalds for coffee being too hot).
However, there are some things that may have affect on young guys:
* Army. Unlike in many countries, males in here are summoned to the army for 2 years, do they like it or not, usually at age of 18. Those who are summoned aren't getting paid or something, they are just being trained for "just in case". And don't expect any good attitude in there towards your person: you're on your own once you get in there.
* Europeans often consider methods of raising young boys brutal and ruthless.
* I known a few guys who had to start learning martial arts at very, very young age just to protect their mothers from alcoholic fathers.
* Poor and/or cold parts of Russia. Russia is nearly 2 times bigger than USA ( link ), so obviously it's impossible to make a good life for everyone. Survival is a problem in those areas and it has pretty strong influence over personality, especially when you're a child.
* Russia still didn't recovered completely from fall of USSR, thus life ain't that simple even in big cities. So when your parents at age of 7 explain to you that you can't rely on anyone in this world but yourself, it also has an effect on you.