The World’s Most Dangerous Man | Foreign Affairs

Over the last decade, Putin has turned his government into a personalist regime: a system in which he monopolizes meaningful authority.
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Putin’s extreme secrecy helps account for some of the most puzzling aspects of the war.

On the day the first Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine, Russia’s central bank still had more than half of its assets in overseas accounts where they could be easily frozen—a major strategic oversight that baffled foreign observers..

The nearly 70-year-old Russian leader saw the war as an opportunity to reestablish Russian dominance on the global stage. Now that it has done the opposite, he is likely more desperate than ever for a decisive victory.

Even without a formal invocation of NATO’s Article 5, the United States and its allies may have little choice but to respond to Russian cyberattacks with cyberattacks of their own, especially if by that point they have already exhausted the full menu of viable economic sanctions. It is impossible to know for certain how such a pattern of retaliatory cyber-strikes would unfold, given the largely unprecedented nature of this sort of escalation, but it could very well spill over into the conventional military arena—substantially increasing the risk of a major armed conflict.

These risks underscore the need for extreme caution when considering how to respond to Russian cyberattacks. Before jumping headlong into a potentially dangerous spiral of cyber-escalation, the United States and its allies should first use all of the economic tools at their disposal.

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