Putin’s Great Year

 

A recent poll conducted by a Russian polling group, suggests that domestic trust in Vladimir Putin is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Still, it’s important to remember that those numbers might not matter so much to Putin himself, since winning a landslide election last year – essentially a license to lead for another six years.  And on the international stage, its shaping up to be a pretty good year for the Russian leader.  He has so far escaped, without much bruising, from a botched GRU effort to kill former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK last year, and has a new bargaining chip with Washington in the form of American Paul Whelan, arrested recently on espionage charges. 

In this Moscow Station brief, former member of CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, Steven Hall pieces together the stories from the headlines as Putin sees them, and it turns out, its shaping up to be a pretty good year for the Russian President.

The Cipher Brief wanted Hall’s reaction to news from Whelan’s lawyer that his client was given a thumb drive with compromising material and was essentially set up in what insiders call a standard way of operating in Moscow.

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