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A Drunken Grandfather Goes to War

The Russian assault on Ukraine changes everything

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Russia has experienced a difficult thirty years searching for its place among nations. The US hasn’t made it easier, inducting the former East European satellites of the USSR into NATO, bullying Russia’s former client-states along the country’s southern rim and around the Mediterranean. China, which maintained Communist-party control while opening its economy to the world, has rocketed past its rival. Boris Yeltsin anointed Vladimir Putin as his successor because the former KGB officer-turned-civil-servant was “thoughtful, democratic, and innovative – yet steadfast in the military manner.” And for or twenty-two years, Vladimir Putin has done a pretty good job of rebuilding