For Putin World Cup Shows Russia Cannot Be Caged By Hostile West


MOSCOW – Vladimir Putin is struggling to get a summit with Donald Trump, has little hope of ending Western sanctions, and is seen in much of the West as a pariah. So hosting the World Cup this month is a welcome moment in the global limelight.

In the Russian president’s eyes, it sends a message of defiance to the world and his own people which fits his favored storyline: Russia is succeeding despite Western efforts to hold it back.

“For Putin, hosting the World Cup speaks to the failure of sanctions and the failure of Western efforts to isolate him,” said Professor Sergei Medvedev, of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, referring to Western sanctions first imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

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