Crimea

To understand Putin, you must understand Russian history

To understand Putin, you must understand Russian history

Last week, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated to his fourth presidential term in Russia. What will his next six years in office bring? This is a difficult question, not least because most Western readers learn about Russia in short and transient news bites. Often lacking in context and interpretation, these quick takes do not yield a systematic understanding of Russia’s long-term political direction. Yet, Vladimir Putin functions in long-term historical categories. In recent years, he has increasingly invoked them to achieve political goals. To grasp Russia’s political vector under Mr. Putin, we need to be more attuned to his use of history.

In November, at the Livadia Palace, near...

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