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The Aspen Strategy Group, a nonpartisan group of foreign-policy experts that former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and I co-chair, recently wrestled with the question of how to respond to Russia's actions in Ukraine.The West needs to impose financial and energy sanctions to deter Russia in Ukraine; but it also must not lose sight of the need to work with Russia on other issues.A gradual decline, like that of ancient Rome or 18th-century Spain, is less disruptive than a rapid one, but ultimately the best scenario would feature a recovering and rebalanced Russia over the next decade.The evidence of Russia's decline is pervasive. Few foreigners watch Russian films, and no Russian university was ranked in the global top 100 last year.Under Putin, Russia's post-imperial transformation has failed, and Russia remains preoccupied with its place in the world and torn between its historical European and Slavophile identities.Putin lacks a strategy for Russia's long-term recovery and reacts opportunistically – albeit sometimes successfully in the short run – to domestic insecurity, perceived external threats, and the weakness of his neighbors. Russia has thus become a revisionist spoiler of the international status quo – one that seeks to be a catalyst for other revisionist powers.
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