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Nand Khemka

Putin’s Russia

The compelling feedback one gets soon after arriving in Moscow is that whatever reservations the Russians may have about Vladimir Putin’s autocratic style of governance notwithstanding, they are united behind him on Crimea and the Ukraine. In his broken English our driver described with great gusto how Putin had snatched Russia’s Crimea back from foreign hands. This refrain was repeated across the broad spectrum, Russian nationalism stood out loud and clear. There seemed no qualms or second-guessing among the populace about the means Putin was using to raise the country back to its former greatness. On the contrary, there was visible pride in the flexing of the military muscle to assert Russia’s dominance in what they call the “near abroad”. One is reminded about the Crimean War in mid-19th century and Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade”, with the western sanctions starting to bite the Russian population remains united in “theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.”