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Andreas Kluth

The West’s Biggest Enemy, And Putin’s Greatest Ally, Is Disunity

If Russia’s president is smart — and he is — he’ll try to divide the transatlantic and European partners as he subjugates Ukraine.

Behold the mighty West.

Behold the mighty West.

Photographer: Olivier Matthys/AFP via Getty Images

One-against-many usually suggests the many have the advantage. But in international relations and grand strategy, that’s not always the case. Sometimes the one prevails, provided he (in this case it’s a he) is ruthless enough and keeps the many divided. 

He, of course, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. As he contemplates how to harass, subvert, subjugate and re-invade Ukraine, he must constantly keep in mind the response by his overarching foe, the West. Putin’s advantage is that he can decide whether, where, when and how to act. By contrast, it’s not clear who decides for the West — or even whether it’ll be able to decide at all.