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The Ukrainian revolution has redrawn the geopolitical map of Eurasia. In the process it has set back two key objectives of the “Putin doctrine” that shapes Russia’s foreign policy: Russia as a great power defined in opposition to the West and Russia as an unchallengeable hegemon in the post-Soviet space. Putin will do whatever it takes to prevent the spread of the “Ukrainian contagion” inside Russia. This is the imperative that will dominate the Kremlin’s foreign and domestic policy for weeks, perhaps months to come. Will Vladimir Putin escalate his aggressive stance toward Ukraine beyond the point where violence and even armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russia become inevitable? What will the US and Europe do to deter the bear as Ukraine seeks to move to the West?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a forum dedicated to the civil society in Moscow, January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

The renewal of fighting in Eastern Ukraine should come as no surprise. The U.S. and Western Europe should expect even more extensive Russia-directed attacks.

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Vladimir Putin’s campaign of oppression, censorship, regulation, and intimidation over online speech threatens the freedom of the Internet around the world.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde before the first working session of the G20 Summit in Constantine Palace in Strelna near St. Petersburg, September 5, 2013. Reuters

Russia will struggle to regain domestic and international confidence in the management of its economy without an IMF-supported economic adjustment program.

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President Barack Obama boards Marine One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., en route to the White House following a trip to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 15, 2014. WhiteHouse.gov

For the last six years, and almost certainly the next two, the biggest news is Barack Obama’s systematic unwillingness to advance U.S. national-security interests around the world.

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The West cannot forget that it is playing a long game with Russia. We may well be on the right path to containing revisionists like Putin, but we shouldn’t celebrate dumb luck, like a collapse in oil prices.

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Image Credit: shutterstock

For Vladimir Putin to successfully approach the IMF, he would have to back down on his Ukrainian adventure to win Western support.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses journalists after a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Hollande at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, December 6, 2014. Reuters

Falling oil prices and economic sanctions have taken a large toll on the Russian economy. However, there remains the risk that domestic discomfort may only increase Putin’s incentives for further aggressive moves.

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Image Credit: mac_ivan (Flickr) (CC-BY-2.0)

The Euromaidan protests, which began one year ago, evolved into a movement that at its finest could serve as a prototype for a kind of mature democracy Ukraine may one day become.

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Four Russian warships have entered international waters off the northeast Australian coast, which coincides with Putin’s visit to Australia for the summit. Meanwhile, US and EU are holding another meeting to discuss bolstering sanctions against Russia. The question is how effective are those sanctions and do Putin’s political actions work for his advantage domestically and politically?

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Image Credit: Mykhaylo Palinchak / Shutterstock.com

Ukraine was not the first of Putin’s revanchist operations. When Russia intervened in Georgia in 2008, AEI’s Dr. Leon Aron feared that Crimea might just be next.

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