Russian rulers have long been content to accept fear and awe in lieu of respect and admiration, and by that standard, Putin shone in 2016. This year that is proving a tougher gig to keep up, as he prepares for what might be his last presidential election in 2018.
Last year, Putin’s boldness, combined with a bit of luck, paid off: The victories in Syria, the successful destabilization of Ukraine, the swelling support for populists in Western nations. Even the Russian economy provided some hopeful signs with something of an agricultural boom and the de-facto end of ne...
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