An essay by Leon Aron in Wall Street Journal: “Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional: Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home” makes thought-provoking reading. If we don’t understand how others think, we can hardly hope to deal with them effectively.
On one thing I agree with Putin, Russia is a unique civilization, apart from Europe. So are we, Britain, Canada and lots of others. Russia, like Britain, is figuratively as well as literally on a pole of Europe, sharing some aspects, differing in others. Treating Russia like another France is a mistake.