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The Daily Vertical: Putin's Politics Of Extortion (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

Geopolitical extortion can come in various forms.

It can come in the form of the massive snap military exercises Vladimir Putin announced last week.

It could come in the form of Russia's recent menacing troop buildup on Ukraine's borders.

Or it can come in the form of cyberattacks against the electoral systems of two U.S. states and several Washington-based think tanks -- attacks experts suspect Kremlin-backed hackers of carrying out in recent weeks.

But regardless of the form this geopolitical extortion takes, there is always one simple message: Russia is prepared to wreak havoc and sow chaos until the West let's it have its way.

This is the Putin regime's way of saying: either you lift sanctions and let us have a free hand in the former Soviet space, or you will face perpetual crises; let us do as we please in Ukraine, in Georgia, and in Moldova, or else we will make your life a living hell.

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The message comes at us as Putin prepares to meet Western leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, at the G20 summit next week in China.

And it comes as voices in many Western capitals calling for accommodation with Moscow are becoming louder and louder.

But accommodating an extortionist is never a good idea. All it does it whet their appetite.

If Putin gets a free hand in his backyard, then what will he want next?

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