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MOSCOW — Western leaders and observers persistently repeat, like a mantra, that Russia is “weak.” This judgment is based on a flawed comparison between Russia and the Soviet Union — though one that is also popular in Russia itself.

Measured by Soviet standards, Russia has weakened. But, as former United States National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft noted, Russia still “has enormous capacities to influence the U.S. security strategy in any country.”

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