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

The poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with near-lethal doses of a nerve agent in the United Kingdom illustrates many things.

It shows, yet again, the extent to which Vladimir Putin's regime recognizes neither norms nor rules nor international law in its ongoing war on the West.

It reminds us that Kremlin opponents are not safe -- whether they are in Russia or whether they are abroad.

And it should demonstrate once and for all that any illusions anybody may have been harboring for a thaw, a reset, or a detente during Putin's fourth term are just that -- illusions.

But like the 2006 assassination of Aleksandr Litvinenko, the poisoning of Skripal also illustrates something else.

It illustrates something pretty fundamental.

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It is a stark reminder of just what is at stake in the confrontation between Russia and the West.

Because at its heart, this is a battle of governance and of political values.

It is a struggle between a world where things like political assassinations, de facto extrajudicial executions, state-sponsored harassment of regime opponents, and the arbitrary application of criminal justice are acceptable -- and a world where such things are beyond the pale.

These things have long been staples of Russian domestic politics. And they are increasingly becoming one of Moscow's main exports.

In the heady optimism that followed the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the assumption was that as Russia integrated with the West, it would adopt Western norms and values, like the rule of law.

But instead, more than quarter of a century on, it is the Kremlin that is exporting the values of Putinism to the West.

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