the-new-york-times

Fueled by the pandemic, uprisings in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan and a war in the Caucasus region are undermining the influence of the Russian leader.

“For Putin, practically his entire mission and his vision of Russian greatness and success revolve around his foreign-policy agenda,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a research organization focused on politics and policy. The new series of crises, she went on, “will very much distract Putin from domestic problems.”

The centrality of the former Soviet lands to Mr. Putin’s foreign policy was evident in the Kremlin’s list of world leaders who called Mr. Putin to wish him a happy birthday on Wednesday, when he turned 68. Of the 12 who called, only three leaders — those of Israel, India and Cuba — head countries outside the former Soviet Union.

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