Outside the West, Putin is less isolated than you might think


In India, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refrained from denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, describing it as a gripe between Moscow and NATO. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his nation “will not take sides” in the conflict, even as he dismissed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky as “a comedian.” A senior South African official still calls Russia “a friend through and through.”

From a perch in the West, it’s easy to see a world standing against Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Russian forces lay brutal siege to Ukrainian cities, leaders in Washington and the capitals of Europe are slapping Moscow with sanction after sanction. In Western countries, Putin has come to be seen as a Bond villain caricature and antagonist to a heroic, beloved Zelensky. Even McDonald’s suspended operations in Russia. Surely you’re isolated if you can’t buy a Big Mac.


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