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What the West gets wrong about Putin

By HARALD MALMGREN

In 1999, Vladimir Putin suddenly sprang from bureaucratic obscurity to the office of Prime Minister. When, a few months later, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and Putin was voted in as President, governments around the world were taken by surprise yet again. How could this unknown figure have amassed national voter support with so little media attention?

I had first met Putin seven years before and was not surprised by his rapid domination of the new Russia. We were introduced by Yevgeny Primakov, widely known as “Russia’s Kissinger”, who I had met in Moscow multiple times during the Cold War years when I advised Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Primakov was a no-nonsense thinker and writer. He was also a special emissary for the Kremlin in conducting secret discussions with national leaders around the world…

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