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Since Russia invaded Crimea last summer, the West has relied on a strategy of economic sanctions and international isolation to compel the Kremlin to withdraw its support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent series of diplomatic successes — in particular, with Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan — has all but negated the effectiveness of this strategy.

To be sure, Putin was shunned at November’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, with the Australian hosts and Western leaders berating him in bilateral meetings for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and creating a rift with its Western economic partners. Putin left early, proclaiming that Western sanctions were harming European economies more than Russia anyway.

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