The New York TimesThe New York Times

A cornered Putin Is more dangerous than ever

By Roger Cohen

22 Sep 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Putin is now at his militarily weakest position since the start of the war. But does that makes him even more dangerous? The answer is yes, according to this sharp analysis in the NYT.

Vladimir Putin’s menacing televised address Wednesday was much more than a bid to change the course of his faltering war against Ukraine. It attempted to invert a war of aggression against a neighbor into one of defense of a threatened “motherland,” a theme that resonates with Russians steeped in patriotic history.

Putin, Russia’s president, aimed at nothing less than altering the meaning of the war for his country, raising the stakes for the entire world. He warned the West in unmistakable terms — “this is not a bluff” — that the attempt to weaken or defeat Russia could provoke nuclear cataclysm.

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