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President Vladimir Putin has finally done it. Russia has been vying for the West’s esteem for centuries, with approval by the French — a sought-after prize since the time of Peter the Great — coveted the most. But, despite the defeat of Napoleon and the World War I alliance, Russia could never get any respect from France.

Indeed, the Marquis de Custine’s “Letters from Russia” suggested that Russian civilization amounted to little more than the mimicry of monkeys.

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