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A new and dangerous kind of superpower

The week's news at a glance.

Russia

Petruska SustrovaLidove Noviny (Czech Republic)

Russia is once again a serious threat to the West, said Petruska Sustrova in Prague’s Lidove Noviny. Most Western Europeans naïvely assumed that when the Soviet Union fell apart, Russians would behave like Eastern Europeans, eagerly embracing the democratic freedoms long denied them. And that was true—at first, under Boris Yeltsin. But since Vladimir Putin took power, in 2000, Russia has returned to its old, aggressive ways. Putin “is leading Russia toward a new greatness.” Only this time, it won’t be “the greatness of a mastodon that can impress Europe only by the striking force of its armies,” as in the 19th century. And it won’t be the greatness of an empire with obedient satellites across the world, as in the Communist era. Instead, Putin is building an economic behemoth out of Russia’s oil and gas reserves. Last winter, when he cut gas supplies to Ukraine, the move was meant as a warning to all the world that Russia has new weapons, economic weapons. “Wake up,” Europe. Russia does not want to be “like us.” It has rejected human rights as an alien, Western construct. That is why we should be alarmed that “Russia already is, and will continue to be, a superpower.”

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