MOSCOW -- Today's Russia rejects Western-style competition, the rule of law and independent institutions while allowing capitalism and certain changes to economic and social policy under strictly controlled limits. The result is an attempt to strengthen the Soviet experiment and take it to its logical conclusion. Thus, the Putin regime defines "better" not in absolute terms, but as improving upon the performance of former Soviet leaders.
MADRID -- The struggle for influence in Ukraine is a game that Putin cannot afford to lose. He gained the upper hand early in the crisis with the annexation of Crimea. Now, in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, he is shrewdly forcing a divided and risk-averse West to choose between war and accommodation.
While avowed critics of social engineering at home, most conservatives believe the U.S. government can remake foreign societies abroad. It's a dangerous delusion. In pursuit of their interventionist fantasies, they are prepared to waste scarce financial resources, entangle the U.S. in foreign quarrels, and risk war with nuclear-armed powers.
Real convergence does not happen only between East and West, but first and foremost inside each country. And it resides in the social contract between the state and its citizens. But Ukrainians must also have no illusion that this is a project lasting at least a generation. For a generation, from independence to the EU presidency, is exactly the time it took Latvia.