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Crisis in Ukraine Is a Winner for Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on Unity Day, in Sevastopol, Crimea, on November 4, 2021. (Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on Unity Day, in Sevastopol, Crimea, on November 4, 2021. (Getty Images)

Crisis in Ukraine Is a Winner for Putin

Walter Russell Mead

Vladimir Putin is having a good crisis in Ukraine. True, the Russian army hasn’t entered Kyiv, but Mr. Putin doesn’t need to achieve his maximum objectives to put some points on the board. At minimal cost, the Russian president’s Ukraine moves have increased his political standing and promoted his agenda at home.

First and foremost, Ukraine is a popular issue in Russia. Many Russians care more about Ukraine than their Chinese counterparts care about Taiwan. Ukraine is a larger and economically more important territory than Taiwan. It was an integral part of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union for more than 300 years, and many Russians consider it the cradle of Russian civilization. While most Russians wouldn’t welcome a long, ugly war in Ukraine, talking tough on Ukraine and drawing international attention to Russia’s feelings is something a lot of Russians think their president should do.

Second, the crisis is making Russia feel great again. Like many people in Britain and France, many Russians are nostalgic for the old days of empire. They want Russia to count for something. Provoking an international crisis over Ukraine has put the spotlight on Russia, monopolized the G-7 summit and driven the American-led “Summit for Democracy” off the front pages. Mr. Putin has dominated world news and scored a crisis summit with President Biden; to many Russians, that already looks like a win.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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