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A nation must think before it acts.
When the U.S., U.K. and France launched airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities last month, the world watched anxiously to see how Russia’s Vladimir Putin would respond to this attack against his Syrian ally. While his response was muted, at least for the time being, that apprehension was a testament to how much Putin has raised Russia’s geopolitical profile over the past decade — and to the penchant for risk-taking that has been simultaneously his foremost strength and greatest strategic weakness.