When Vladimir Putin looks West, he thinks he sees something very familiar.
He sees an angry, disenfranchised, and humiliated working class that has been left behind by globalization.
In many ways, when Putin looks West, from Europe to North America, he thinks he sees Russia in the 1990s.
And just as the Russia of a quarter of a century ago was ripe for a tough-talking leader who rejected liberal orthodoxies and promised to restore national greatness, Putin thinks much of the West is ripe for this brand of leader as well.
Putin thinks this is his moment. He thinks his time has come.
Just as he turned resentment into power in Russia, he is now seeking to turn that trick internationally.
He aspires to be the global icon of antiglobalization. He seeks to lead the nationalist international. He aims to spearhead a popular front of populists.
As Peter Pomerantsev so aptly put it, Putin is turning himself into the Che Guevara of the antiestablishment right.
And for the time being, he seems to be moving from success to success.
And with elections looming next year in the Netherlands, France, and Germany -- elections where populists are on the rise -- he's looking forward to more successes in the near future.
This is a very dangerous moment because Putin's goals are not modest.
He seeks nothing short of the destruction of NATO, the European Union, and the rules-based international order that has kept the West strong, stable, and safe for decades.
He wants to party like it's 1815, to return to a world where empires and great powers can act unfettered.
Because it is only in such a world that he believes Russia can thrive.