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Putin doesn’t live in a parallel reality but revels in his ability to speak and act in this one with impunity, Portnikov says.

Many who hear Vladimir Putin ’s most outrageous statements or see his most aggressive actions are inclined to say he is living in a parallel reality; but in fact, Vitaly Portnikov says, the Kremlin leader constantly monitors reality to see just how far he can go. That reality suggests to him that there are few limits and that he can pursue his agenda with impunity.

No matter what Putin says or does, the Ukrainian political analyst says, many in Russia and the West instead of standing up to him and taking effective action to block what he says or does want to avoid breaking with him and seek some new agreement. Putin sees all this and acts accordingly.

He is “careful” in his actions, Portnikov says.

“He studies what will be the level of responsibility to which he will be held. And if there isn’t any, then he goes further and with greater confidence. That is how it has been in Russia since his coming to power.”

He watches how society and foreign governments react and when they don’t, he feels free to do more.

Thus, his military aggression against Ukraine followed one against Georgia and now his using Russian gas as a political weapon in Europe has followed that. But instead of thinking up truly effective sanctions, many in the West want to avoid breaking with Putin and instead seek new agreements with him. Putin and his entourage see all this, and to what should be the surprise of no one, act accordingly.

The Kremlin leader is laughing at the West and at his own society and reveling in his ability to do anything he wants without negative consequences, Portnikov says.

“He hasn’t gone out of his mind. In that regard, all is well with him. It is we who have gone out of our minds if we continue to permit this.”

We have only ourselves to blame and we live in a parallel reality, the commentator concludes, “if we allow him to laugh for twenty years of rule and threaten and then have no doubt that his rule will last forever.”

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