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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Europe Should Woo Russia When Putin’s Gone

There’s a better path for both sides than military adventurism. But the Kremlin won’t find it by itself.

There’s a better way.

There’s a better way.

Photographer: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a new toy and he wants Russians to think of it as their Christmas present, too. On Wednesday, he called the successful test of a new supersonic weapon “a remarkable, excellent New Year’s gift to the nation.” Russians probably would have preferred a rollback of a recent retirement-age increase under their trees, but that doesn’t much matter to Putin’s view of his country’s national interest.

The question to ask as a bad political year ends for Putin is to what degree his militaristic worldview should survive his leadership. That doesn’t only depend on Russians; once Putin is gone, the West — but largely Europe — will have another chance to tempt Russia with different prospects.