Vladimir Putin’s Long—and Very Dangerous—Game

Vladimir Putin is exploiting the Ukrainian revolution—specifically, by manufacturing “crises” in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and nationalist euphoria and anti-Western paranoia at home—to fashion a more repressive and increasingly unpredictable Russian dictatorship for life. With the Russian economy heading for recession, the Putin regime’s popularity largely depends on Russia’s foreign policy successes, which Putin hopes to achieve by humiliating, destabilizing, and eventually derailing Ukraine; by cajoling the West into rejecting sanctions against Russia; and by fueling Russian patriotism. The West should, in an effort spearheaded by the United States, aim its sanctions at increasing the costs of the regime’s malignant transformation rather than simply attempting to dissuade Moscow from further action in eastern Ukraine.

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