Why Putin matters for Ukraine 

"Putin is not going to invade" - David Weman questions the importance of Russia's role in the Ukrainian standoff in a comment at Fistful of Euros. But Putin doesn't even have to make such a military threat. The importance of Moscow's support in propping up undemocratic rulers in the region is a matter of economics, as an article in Die Presse [DE] points out, but even more, I believe, it is one of providing a credible perspective: Even if the West shuns an undemocratic leader, having the support of Moscow signals integration into a viable global power bloc, albeit one that will often have a mixed record even in the eyes of the local ruler's most ardent supporters. Yet, if Moscow really were to succeed in rebuilding its empire based on the fear of democratic revolutions felt by various corrupt regional leaders, then such an empire would stand, once again, on the weakest possible foundations. For Putin, this poisonous chalice must present a difficult dilemma.

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