If we hope to avoid the worst possible outcomes in this crisis, we must start by recognizing the historical and geopolitical complexities that underpin it.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE B eing human, we often fall prey to clichés. We use recent experience, or the memories and concepts that are at hand, to inform and shape our thinking about novel situations. And the way that social media encourage people to converge quickly on a set of boldly stated and barely informed — but legible — opinions has probably made understanding such situations more difficult.

With that in mind, I’d like to unpack three common misconceptions about the Russia–Ukraine crisis that I’ve seen pop up over and over again on op-ed pages and social media.

Vladimir Putin plays a bad hand well.

I may have

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