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After months of failed policy from the West, it is clear that economic sanctions and international condemnation alone are not enough to force Vladimir Putin to abandon his support of Ukrainian “separatists”. Such measures matter little to Putin in comparison to the ideological, geopolitical, and domestic political imperatives that push him to pursue a total victory in Ukraine. Unless the West can convince Putin that a belligerent policy towards Russia’s near abroad is not worth pursuing—by drastically increasing the domestic rather than international cost of his aggression—Moscow’s actions in Ukraine are likely to serve as a precedent for future confrontations with the West in the region.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures at a news conference after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia, July 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Should President Obama’s successors follow the administration’s lead in its basic sanguinity about Putin’s Russia – or are there grounds for serious and long-term concern?

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Five questions about Europe that each presidential candidate should be able to answer.

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A wholesale rejection of any active role for American foreign policy is unwise and reckless, and would ultimately jeopardize libertarian principles of individual freedom.

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An employee turns a valve at a gas compressor station in the village of Boyarka, outside Kiev, April 22, 2015. Russian natural gas producer Gazprom said on Wednesday Kiev owed it $174.2 million for gas supplied to eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the year.  Reuters

While Russia depends on its gas exports to Europe, the frantic efforts to build alternative gas routes to Europe have little to do with economics or energy security.

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Leon Aron sat down with Sergei Guriev to discuss a range of issues including the state of and prospects for the Russian economy, the tactics of modern autocrats, and why he has no plans to return to Russia.

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According to Pew, although the public in eight sampled NATO nations largely blame Russia, Putin, and the Ukrainian separatists for the security crisis in Eastern Europe, only the United States and Canada register a majority who would support responding with military force were Russia to attack a NATO ally.

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Not only did the EU summit in Riga avoid any discussion of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, it also exposed the lack of a shared vision for engaging with the Eastern Partnership.

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The basic economic and political assumptions that justified the IMF’s lending program to Ukraine are far from being realized.This raises serious questions over whether the program is adequately financed and whether it was appropriate in the first place.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at the gala concert marking the opening of the Year of Literature in Russia at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre, January 28, 2015.  Reuters

How the regime responds, or does not respond, to underlying structural challenges will affect Russia’s stability through Putin’s probable election in 2018 and beyond.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 5, 2015.  Reuters

Obscured today by the fog of war and induced patriotic frenzy, Russia’s underlying structural problems are only likely to grow wider and deeper, potentially morphing into multiple converging crises.

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