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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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. Reuters

Strategic concerns and domestic political considerations make it unlikely that Putin will abandon his longtime ally, Bashar al-Assad anytime soon.

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The remains of a Russian airliner which crashed is seen in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. Reuters

Evidence that terrorists destroyed a Russian civilian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula continues to mount, although competent authorities still decline to say so definitively.

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Mired in multiple crises, the European Union is increasingly inward looking, much to the detriment of its neighbors to the East.

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Although its global reach is exaggerated, Russia’s propaganda campaign is particularly effective in the former Soviet Union and requires a vigorous response from the West.

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President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland June 17, 2013.

Russian calls for new Syrian elections and sharing intelligence with Western powers are nothing more than exercises in “maskirovka,” Russia’s classic technique for disguising its real objectives.

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Ukraine and Russia are at a stalemate over the US$3 billion bonds due in December 2015, but there is a fair and simple solution to the impasse.

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Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands after making statements following meetings regarding Syria, at a news conference in Geneva September 14, 2013. Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Syrian intervention clearly caught President Obama flat-footed, and so far there is no sign Obama knows how to respond.

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A Russian cruise missile campaign aimed at Syrian opposition groups is being carried out from the Caspian Sea and is already causing problems in the region. US officials have confirmed that four faulty Russian cruise missiles did not make it to their targets and instead fell inside of Iran.

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The Russian Navy's large landing ship Novocherkassk sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

Russia mobilizes in Syria while China militarizes the South China Sea, filling a power vacuum created by an absent America.

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U.S. President Barack Obama waves before the start of the Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism at the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

Syria today is not Afghanistan in 1979. Despite President Obama’s hopes, Russia is not wading into another “quagmire” but daring to actually win.

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