American leaders stumble while Putin strides ahead.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE R ussia has a second-tier economy at best. It is ranked eleventh in the world by GDP, just ahead of Brazil but trailing South Korea, Canada, and Italy, to say nothing of the U.S., China, and the other top dogs.

As I’ve detailed before (and I’m far from alone in this regard), today’s Russia is a pale imitation of the Soviet Union — still a formidable military power but riven by internal dysfunction, corruption, and strife. And, indeed, after an exuberant start following the U.S.S.R.’s 1991 collapse, the Russian Federation in 1991 passed through its “gangster capitalism” phase and became a basket

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