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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a military parade in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, in Moscow, June 24, 2020 (pool photo by Sergey Pyatakov via AP).

How Russia’s Putin Is Viewing the Crises in His Backyard

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

From mass protests in Belarus to political chaos in Kyrgyzstan to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia is surrounded by mounting instability. According to Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Institute for Scholars, President Vladimir Putin and his top advisers only have themselves to blame for these crises on Russia’s periphery, given their active assertion of “veto rights” over political outcomes that they find unfavorable, including any signs that a country is realigning away from Russia and toward the West.

In many cases, this has meant staunch Russian support for friendly authoritarian regimes in post-Soviet states, leading to mass demonstrations or other forms of unrest. “In a way,” Rojansky told WPR’s Elliot Waldman in an interview on the Trend Lines podcast this week, Russia “has made its bed and now must lie in it.” ...

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