...he is an authoritarian to some degree, which I'm sure he thinks is necessary to mount an effort to resist NATO/EU/US expansionism and destabilization of their backyard. I think he resents Russia having been continually kicked in the teeth with broken promises since the end of the Soviet Union and is trying to have Russia viewed as an equal, rather than as a vanquished lesser to be hemmed in.
Not trying to excuse his authoritarianism, whatever degree it might be. But I think regardless of the nature of a Putin, or even of a Hitler, I think it is dangerous and foolish to act as the victors did to Germany after WW1 and after the Cold War to Russia, breaking promises to respect their interests and security perimeter, grinding people into the dirt as payback or artificially carving up nations so that ethnic peoples are dislocated from the cultures and nations they identify with. It just invites a Hitler to use the righting of wrongs as a vehicle or an excuse for his rabid authoritarianism.
Britain and France and the US felt guilty about what they had done to the German people in Versailles, which is why they weren't so alarmed at first when Hitler moved to reunite the fractured people. Better to have acted wisely beforehand and not set up the situation for a Hitler. Better for the West to calmly go about its business now and get its own house in order so it can be that example of Liberty and seeking harmony through trade that it should be. Foolish to just throw rocks at the bear and try to tweak it and then act surprised when it reacts.
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