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Fighting the tropes of Russian propaganda

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been mad at the West for years. Indeed, he came to office mad at the West, because he thought the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” and has blamed NATO expansion for post-Cold War tensions with Russia.

Like most Russians, he blamed the liberal policies of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union for much of the catastrophe. But Putin also saw the West, especially the United States, as unrelenting in its efforts to destroy the country which he, as a KGB officer, had been trained to both venerate and serve.

Tens of millions of Russians, who had moved to, or were born in Ukraine, the Baltic States, Central Asia and the Caucasus, found themselves, on the rending of the Soviet Union, foreigners in new nation states. In these, they were often regarded – as in the Baltic states and Georgia – with hostility. Putin saw it as his first task to protect the country left to him and to do what he could to protect the exiled Russians.

By his measure, he has done quite well in these tasks. He fought a savage war in the Caucasian republic of Chechnya to stop it from breaking away from Russia, and installed a dictator in the country beholden to him for his power. He swept aside Georgian attempts to take back its northern province of South Ossetia and had his troops drive on until near the capital, Tbilisi, to show that they could snuff out Georgian independence, before pulling them back. He invaded the Ukrainian province of Crimea, inhabited mainly by Russians, and declared it part of........

© Japan Today