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The Daily Vertical: 10 Years Ago Today, Putin Declared War (Transcript)


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

Ten years ago today, a cold wind blew in Munich.

A decade ago today, Vladimir Putin telegraphed his intentions.

On February 10, 2007, the Kremlin leader threw down the gauntlet to the West.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

On that day, Putin stunned the Munich Security Conference with a bellicose speech in which he railed against the post-Cold War international order and suggested that Russia was preparing to challenge it.

And, in fact, they already were challenging it.

Just months before Putin's speech, Kremlin agents assassinated Aleksandr Litvinenko in downtown London.

And they got away with it.

The Putin regime learned that it could commit murder in a Western capital with few consequences.

And a year and a half after Putin's speech, Russian troops rolled into Georgia. And they got away with it.

The Putin regime learned that it could invade a neighbor with few consequences.

In the 10 years since the Munich speech, Putin has been busy ripping apart the rules-based international order -- from South Ossetia to Crimea to the Donbas to Aleppo.

And in the decade since, Russia has assaulted the West itself, hacking its institutions, kidnapping its citizens, and subverting its politics.

And there is no indication that this is going to stop anytime soon.

A decade ago Putin telegraphed all of this.

And if the message wasn't entirely clear to all then -- it sure is now.

We didn't know it at the time, but Putin's Munich speech was a declaration of war.

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