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The Daily Vertical: Making Russia Great Again (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

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

It wasn't that long ago when a majority of Ukrainian citizens believed either neutrality or an alliance with Russia were the best ways to guarantee the country's national security.

Today, a strong plurality of Ukrainians back NATO membership and the Verkhovna Rada has just officially made this Kyiv's strategic goal.

Three years of Kremlin-backed war has its cost.

It wasn't that long ago when the European Union was having serious discussions about granting Russians visa-free travel and such status for Ukraine wasn't even on the agenda.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Today, Ukrainians and Georgians can travel to Europe visa-free. And it is inconceivable that Russians will get this status as long as Crimea and the Donbas remain occupied.

Flagrant violations of international law have a price.

It wasn't that long ago when countries like Germany, France, and Montenegro were favorably disposed toward Moscow.

Today they have, each in their own way, become harsh critics.

Hacking, disinformation attacks, and political interference tend to turn friends into enemies.

Later this week, Vladimir Putin will hold his annual call-in program. Any preselected Russian citizen will be able to ask the Kremlin leader any carefully prescreened question.

It will surely be yet another impressive made-for-TV spectacle designed to highlight and market the success of Putin's policies.

And Putin will explain, in his trademark pithy way, how he is making Russia great again.

But one has to wonder, how much more of this success can the Russian people take?

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