Jeff Kopstein

"What does Russian President Vladimir Putin want? As Russian military forces continue to target Ukrainian civilians while reducing Ukraine’s major cities to rubble, debates about Putin’s ultimate motivations have reached a fever pitch. But the simple dichotomy driving our current debates — that Putin is either crazy or a “rational actor” — is fundamentally misleading. It does not give us any insight into the type of regime Putin has built in Russia, nor does it pinpoint the broader forces within Russia that are driving the conflict. What Putin wants is a world run by other Putins. 

There is a word for Putin’s kind of state: patrimonial. The patrimonial state is one in which the leader portrays himself as the embodiment of the nation and treats the entire state as his personal property. The last vestiges of the democratic legitimacy Putin once claimed have long ago been excised. The Russian Constitution of 1993 has been amended to suit Putin's political interests so many times that it is in effect a dead letter, and Putin is essentially Russia's “president for life.”" 

Read on, courtesy of The Hill:


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