What Happened, Indeed

The American Interest

With a coronation-like Russian presidential election coming in March, it easy to forget that exactly six years ago Vladimir Putin seemed to be wobbling on the edge of political oblivion. In disastrous December 2011 parliamentary elections, his United Russia party—in a rigged election—officially won less than half the votes cast. Russian and Western analysts alike were wondering if he would even survive the March 2012 election that Putin envisioned as his triumphant return to the helm at the Kremlin. This was the year of the Arab Spring, after all, with autocratic allies of Moscow (and Washington) being driven from their palaces across the Arab world. Peaceful democratic upheaval was trending!

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