Vladimir Putin Alexei Druzhinin/ZumaPress

Vladimir Putin’s Soviet Dream

From China’s activities in the South China Sea to the Islamic State’s advance in the Middle East, competition and conflict are threatening long-standing regional orders. But perhaps the most critical conflict, with implications for all the rest, is in Ukraine, which has become central to Russia's expansionist ambitions.

MADRID – The recent nuclear deal concluded by six major world powers and Iran represented a triumph of multilateralism. If those same powers – the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany – showed the same will to work together to resolve other disputes, the world might enter a new era of cooperation and stability.

Unfortunately, such a scenario seems farfetched. From China’s activities in the South China Sea to the Islamic State’s continued advance in the Middle East, competition and conflict are threatening long-standing regional orders. But perhaps the most critical conflict – the one whose resolution has implications for all the rest – is in Ukraine, a country that has become central to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist ambitions.

Russia’s unilateral annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have ruptured its relations with the West, and Putin has intentionally recreated a Cold War atmosphere by touting Russia’s “conservative values” as an ideological counterweight to the American-led liberal world order. Nonetheless, key issues – the carnage in Syria, the fight against the Islamic State, nuclear non-proliferation, and conflicting interests and competing claims in the Arctic – cannot be resolved without Russia’s involvement.

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