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Will Russia Ever Be Free?

Will Russia Ever Be Free?

Eager though we all are to learn how the Ukraine war ends for Ukraine, there is another great unanswered question about the invasion: How will the war end for Russia?

Will it revert to a quasi-Soviet totalitarian past, this time with a simulacrum of capitalism and an ideology of religious nationalism instead of communism? When Vladimir Putin’s death or downfall comes, will that bring a new liberal “thaw”? Or will the country slide into violent strife between warlords like the late Yevgeny Prigozhin—leading, perhaps, to an even more belligerent fascist dictatorship? Or will the Russian Federation disintegrate as the Soviet Union did 32 years ago, with some of its constituent entities breaking off into independent states? And would that reduce Russia to a shrunken, humbled, impoverished, and increasingly irrelevant country?

Russia still commands a vast nuclear arsenal, and there is no realistic scenario where that’s going to change soon. Russia’s sheer size, its cultural influence, its place at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and its vast network of international connections give it, like it or not, a pivotal role in global politics and development. Whether…

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