Financial TimesFinancial Times

Putin, de Gaulle and national greatness

By Gideon Rachman

14 Aug 2023 · 4 min read

“France cannot be France without greatness,” wrote Charles de Gaulle in the opening of his memoirs. His nation, he insisted, must always be in “the first rank”.

Vladimir Putin feels the same way about Russia. Back when I was still able to visit that country, Fyodor Lukyanov — a foreign policy thinker close to Putin — told me that the Russian president was driven by the fear that his nation might permanently lose its status as a great power.

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