Vladimir V. Putin’s posture toward the West through the recent Ukraine crisis seems unusually defiant, even for him. But there may be more behind his confidence than military power or empty bravado.
Over the past several years, Mr. Putin, Russia’s president, has restructured his country’s economy for the specific purpose of withstanding Western financial pressure.
Western policymakers face a riddle: Does Mr. Putin continue to press ahead, despite Western threats exposing the weakness in his economic armor, because he considers the costs to be worth bearing or because he believes the West’s threats are empty?
“I don’t think that our sanctions threats are all that credible because of our track record,” said Mr. Fishman, the former sanctions official...Mr. Fishman raised another, concerning possibility: Mr. Putin might not grasp how vulnerable he remains, raising the risk that he would plunge Europe into both a war and the economic conflict meant to forestall it.
“It’s possible that they’re overconfident,” he said, adding that Mr. Putin’s inner circle might be telling him only what he wants to hear. “I don’t think the Kremlin is prepared for what might hit it.”
Read the full story and more from The New York Times.