Columns


Putin's bubble may have burst

If you're the type who finds macho posturing impressive, Vladimir Putin is your kind of guy. Sure enough, many American conservatives seem to have an embarrassing crush on the swaggering strongman.

"That is what you call a leader," enthused Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, after Putin invaded Ukraine without debate or deliberation.

But Putin never had the resources to back his swagger. Russia has an economy roughly the same size as Brazil's.

And, as we're now seeing, it's highly vulnerable to financial crisis — a vulnerability that has a lot to do with the nature of the Putin regime.

For those who haven't been keeping track: The ruble has been sliding gradually since August, when Putin openly committed Russian troops to the conflict in Ukraine.

A few weeks ago, however, the slide turned into a plunge.

Extreme measures, including a huge rise in interest rates and pressure on private companies...

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