Putin the Great

PARIS – One day, monuments to Vladimir Putin may stand in Russian cities, bearing the inscription: “The man who returned Crimea to Mother Russia.” But perhaps monuments will be erected on many European squares as well, acclaiming Russia’s president as “The Father of United Europe.” Indeed, Putin’s swift move to annex Crimea has done more to harmonize European governments’ views on Russia than dozens of bilateral or multilateral meetings.

In Berlin last week, I heard French and German elites speak with one voice in discussing how to respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Of course, words are not deeds. Yet, thanks to Putin, the European Union may have found the new narrative and momentum that it has sought since the fall of the Berlin Wall.