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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Will Biden Avoid Obama’s Russia Trap?

There’s nothing that Russian President Vladimir Putin hates and loves more than to be underestimated. 

Belittling the bear is as bad as feeding it.

Belittling the bear is as bad as feeding it.

Photographer: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty Images

When U.S. President Joe Biden revives the trope of Russia as a declining power with an economy that produces little except oil and gas, Americans should hope he doesn’t really believe it. That it’s untrue is only half the problem; when U.S. leaders repeat that depiction, they invite trouble, for Russian President Vladimir Putin both hates and loves to be underestimated.

On July 27, Biden said this about Putin: