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Russia’s swamp

Putin's declared ambition is to restore Russia great power status, how should the west respond to this weak, aggrieved post-superpower?

By Thomas de Waal   April 2000

The moment that defined for me the sickness of Yeltsin’s Russia came in autumn 1996, at the end of what we must now call the first Chechen war. The Chechen rebels had recaptured Grozny. The Russians were pulling their troops out. One by one, each garrison held a short departure ceremony designed to soften the ignominy of defeat. I turned up at the gates of the shabby army base at Khankala, outside Grozny, in order to find out whether the latest division had pulled out. A well-known Russian television journalist from the NTV channel was standing outside the gate, puffing…

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