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Putin's Brain

Alexander Dugin and the Philosophy Behind Putin's Invasion of Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007. Damir Sagolj / Courtesy Reuters

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has searched fruitlessly for a new grand strategy -- something to define who Russians are and where they are going. “In Russian history during the 20th century, there have been various periods -- monarchism, totalitarianism, perestroika, and finally, a democratic path of development,” Russian President Boris Yeltsin said a couple of years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Each stage has its own ideology,” he continued, but now “we have none.”

To fill that hole, in 1996 Yeltsin designated a team of scholars to work together to find what Russians call the Russkaya ideya (“Russian idea”), but they came up empty-handed. Around the same time, various other groups also took up the task, including a collection of conservative Russian politicians and thinkers who called themselves Soglasiye vo imya Rossiya (“Accord in the Name of Russia”). Along with many other Russian intellectuals of the day, they were deeply disturbed

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