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The Daily Vertical: In Putin's World, Crime Pays (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

By most objective standards, last week's news should have been an unmitigated disaster for Vladimir Putin's regime.

By most objective standards, the Kremlin should be worried that it risks becoming an international pariah.

By most objective standards, September 28 should have been a dark day for Russia.

Dutch investigators on that day further solidified the already solid evidence that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for the downing of Flight MH17 in July 2014, a tragedy that killed 298 people -- including 80 children.

And on the very same day in Syria, Russian warplanes hit two hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo.

And that attack came just over a week after Moscow was accused of bombing an aid convoy in Syria, shattering a fragile cease-fire.

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Russia took a pounding in the Western media over these things. In an editorial, The New York Times memorably called it an "outlaw state" that "violates not only the rules intended to promote peace instead of conflict, but also common human decency."

But here's the thing. In Putin's world, it pays to be an outlaw state.

In Putin's world, common human decency is for wimps.

In Putin's world, it is better to be feared than to be liked.

In Putin's world, brutality and callousness are virtues, not vices.

The Kremlin leader is on a mission to restore what he believes is Russia's lost greatness.

And he clearly has decided that the fastest way to do that it to become an international rogue.

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