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Opinion
Hal Brands

The ‘Putin Doctrine’ Becomes Clear in Ukraine and Kazakhstan

The Russian president’s gambles may not pay off, but he has clearly ended the post-Cold War era.

Recapturing glory.

Recapturing glory.

Photographer: Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

For most Westerners, the news that Russia has sent troops to quell a popular uprising in Kazakhstan may seem like a minor event in a far corner of the world. But seen in the context of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule, and of his coercion of Ukraine, it takes on a more sinister significance. Thirty years after the Soviet collapse ushered in the post-Cold War era, Putin has articulated a vision — call it the Putin Doctrine — meant to bring that era decisively to a close.

Putin’s vision is most evident from the draft treaties his government proposed as its price for not (again) invading Ukraine. Those proposals amount to a demand for an internationally acknowledged Russian sphere of interest encompassing the former Soviet Union and much of Eastern Europe.