In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been escalating his hybrid war against the Western world. However, his annual speech to Russian ambassadors on November 18 saw Putin at his most uninspired and defensive. Freeworld Forum’s Senior Fellow Anders Åslund analyzes the speech in an article for the Atlantic Council.
Putin’s most critical comments focused on the West’s alleged failure to take Russia’s demands seriously with regard to Ukraine. “Our partners are peculiar in the sense that they have a very, to put it mildly, superficial approach to our warnings about red lines,” he complained. Some have interpreted this as an indication of his readiness to imminently escalate in Ukraine. I would argue that it points to Putin’s begrudging respect for demonstrations of strength.