This Isn’t What Putin Wanted

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While pundits hyperventilate about Russia’s resurgence, the reality is that President Putin isn’t winning. He is, in fact, on a losing streak. His dishonest intervention in eastern Ukraine has rendered that country more pro-Western than at any time since 1991. Russia’s steadfast support for Syria’s butcher, Bashar al-Assad, is bringing Moscow little concrete gain. And costs keep piling up. According to one estimate, a quarter of Russia’s global weapons exports in 2015 were to rogue Venezuela, in transactions predominantly effected via loans. Last week, Moscow cut $1 billion from projected state budget revenues.

So it’s unwelcome news for Mr. Putin, to say the least, that the United States Senate is not only unlikely to lift sanctions on Russia but also well on its way to strengthening them. Word from Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is that a final bill would pass overwhelmingly and that the votes will likely be there in the House, too, to override a presidential veto. When sanctions were imposed in 2014 and reinforced in late 2016, they took the form of an executive order, but if Mr. Graham and his colleagues have their way, the new, tougher sanctions regime will become law.

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