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The Razzle-Dazzle Diplomacy of Putin
Pleased with himself. © Getty Images

Pleased with himself. © Getty Images

In case you missed it, WRM had an essay in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on the subject of Vladimir Putin. Here’s the lede:

The most daring and acrobatic figure in Sochi this week isn’t a snowboarder; it is Vladimir Putin, whose death-defying geopolitical gamble is the hottest game in town. With more twists and turns than a bobsled race, more fancy footwork than a figure-skating final and more dips and flips than a mogul run, Russian diplomacy is a dazzling spectacle these days—and despite his considerable handicaps, Mr. Putin is skating rings around his clumsy and clueless opponents in Washington and Brussels.

The Russian president’s biggest problem is simple: Post-Soviet Russia is a weak state. Take away its gas and oil resources, nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era intelligence networks, and there is not much of a there there. With an economy the size of Italy’s, an ethnic Russian population in decline, a booming China rising nearby and serious and sustained unrest in the Caucasus, Russia hardly has the look of a great power.

But Mr. Putin can’t tell his citizens to relax and enjoy the decline; unlike Britain or France, Russia can’t let its imperial glory go. The fall of the Soviet Union is too recent, the pain of loss too great.

Read the whole thing.

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  • John Stephens

    Such are the benefits of competent leadership.

  • Atanu Maulik

    Russian leaders have this one problem. They can huff and puff and blaster and blow hot air. They can run rings around naive foreign leaders. But there is one thing they could never do that was to build a nation which functions well for Russians. So Russia is destined to remain a B-grade nation.

  • Bruce

    It’s not that hard to run circles around you negotiating opponents when they are as hapless as Putin’s.

    • Jim__L

      … and it’s even easier when their diplomatic and national security establishments are subject to massive leaks.

  • Boritz

    The Soviet Union was described as a “Third World country with nukes.” That is an apt description of the country that engaged and distracted the United States of America in a half century cold war. Putin and the current Russia have all they need and more to distract us on a similar scale.

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