As Russia prepares to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has many reasons to be pleased this holiday season. Russia, after all, has received an abundance of geopolitical gifts over the past year. But for all the bounty that Putin reaped, Ded Moroz did not deliver the New Year’s present that the Russian leader really needed – a vibrant economy.
In foreign affairs, Putin certainly had a very good year in 2016. Most notably, the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president sowed uncertainty in the West, paving the way for Russia to assert its political interests and social agenda on a global scale. Things went so well that even Estonia – a Baltic state and NATO member that traditionally views Russia as a bogeyman – installed a coalition government in late November led by a Moscow-friendly prime minister.
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Justin Burke is the Managing Editor of EurasiaNet.