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    Putin Seeks Revenge on a World Order He Once Wanted to Join

    Putin Seeks Revenge on a World Order He Once Wanted to Join

    The summer evening at a beachside nightclub in the Black Sea resort of Sochi resembled a modern-day version of a gladiator fight in imperial . Russian fighters pummeled a “world” team in a mixed martial arts contest. Scantily dressed women waved Russian flags and the crowd roared as the home squad racked up victories. The highlight was the knockout of a 44-year-old American fighter.

    It was August 2013 and sitting in a front-row seat in a white dress shirt and flanked by security guards and political acolytes was Vladimir Putin. Six months later, 's president set his country on its path to war by seizing Crimea from Ukraine, and ultimately a full-scale invasion entering its third year next week.

    The scene in Sochi encapsulated Putin's world view: a staged demonstration of Russian might in the face of what he sees as disrespect for his country's place in the global order. As the authoritarian leader prepares to tighten his grip on in an election next month, the question of how to handle him has become even more urgent after Republican frontrunner Donald Trump indicated that if he's back in office in the U.S. he could let Russia pick off countries not meeting their defense spending pledges.

    In Ukraine, Putin is attempting to strike his own decisive blow against the U.S. and Europe to reshape that global order to Russia's advantage. Putin's gamble — backed by military force and grudges — is…

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