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Russian Aggression Is Undermining Populism

The Western populists who have spent years undermining democracy at home have been weakened by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression. While those with pro-Russian leanings have been marginalized, those who have come out in support of Ukraine have been welcomed back into the fold.

WARSAW – Russia’s war in Ukraine has affected political life in countries around the world, and this influence has been greater in the countries that are politically closest not to Ukraine but to Russia. Because Ukraine is a democracy and Russia is an authoritarian kleptocracy, the war has highlighted a fundamental clash between alternative political systems. This dynamic raises the stakes considerably, because a military defeat for the democracy could be an invitation to dictators elsewhere to pursue their own conquests.