Scroll to the top

Is Putin on a roll?

​Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on February 20, 2024.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on February 20, 2024.

Alexander Kazakov/REUTERS

Five days ago, Russia’s most prominent dissident, Alexei Navalny, dropped dead in a remote Arctic prison. Three days ago, Russian forces in Ukraine scored their first major victory in months, taking the strategic town of Avdiivka. Two days ago, the body of a Russian helicopter pilot who famously defected to Ukraine last year was found shot dead in Spain. One day ago, authorities in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg arrested a US-Russian dual citizen on charges of treason for raising money for Ukraine and attending demonstrations in Los Angeles.

It’s impossible to know if the timing of all of these things was intentional, but taken together the effect is the same: Vladimir Putin’s message to the West is, “I’ll do what I like, and you’ll do nothing about it.”

Is he right? Maybe. Russia’s already under harsh sanctions, and there’s little appetite for tougher ones that would hit, say, Moscow’s globally important energy exports. Certainly not over the arrest or killing of individual opponents.

More interesting will be whether it all affects the Capitol Hill debate over supplying more aid to Ukraine. With no sign of that yet, what will Putin do next?


Subscribe to GZERO's daily newsletter