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Putin’s Throwback State

Undoing Moscow’s Shift West

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on as he arrives at the Expo 2015 global fair in Milan, northern Italy, June 10, 2015. Flavio Lo Scalzo / Reuters

The twists and turns of Russia’s development may have never been more tied to the West than they were in 1997. That summer, Moscow’s stock market began to boom as new Western-style grocery stores replaced those of the foul-smelling Soviet variety, even in Moscow’s most remote districts. A growing number of Russians began to believe that the trauma of market reform and democratization had finally started to show at least some small promise of an eventual payoff. It was therefore surprising to hear a young Moscow professional back then declare that the West wants only to make Russia weak. That protestation came not from a die-hard Communist or nationalist politician but rather from a well-spoken 30-something who had traveled abroad. Nothing, it seemed, could bridge what appeared to be an ideological divide between us.

Today, such views are common among young Russians. Western antagonism toward Russia has become

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