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Analysis: Putin presents a Russia-sized foreign-policy headache for Biden

January 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.8%. 1 min read.

With the departure of Donald Trump from the White House, Russia-watchers can be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief: From the moment Russian President Vladimir Putin called Trump the front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, it's been near-impossible to look at Moscow through anything but the lens of Washington politics and scandal.

(CNN)With the departure of Donald Trump from the White House, Russia-watchers can be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief: From the moment Russian President Vladimir Putin called Trump the front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, it's been near-impossible to look at Moscow through anything but the lens of Washington politics and scandal.

After Russian parliamentary elections in 2011 were marred by allegations of widespread fraud, Putin blamed Clinton for promoting "foreign interference" in Russia as demonstrators took to the streets.

And then there was Trump's embarrassing performance at a 2018 summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki, where the then-US president sided with the Kremlin leader, saying he didn't "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible for interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The poisoning of opposition leader Navalny in August reinvigorated the debate about how to deal with Russia, in a way that even Russian interference in the 2016 election failed to do.

And Navalny recently upped the stakes with his dramatic return to Russia: Two days after his arrest at the Russian border, Navalny's investigative team dropped a massive online investigation into Putin's alleged personal wealth.

Navalny shouldn't be mistaken for a traditional Western liberal: The anti-corruption campaigner has elements of populism and Russian nationalism in his politics, and he has shown a pragmatic willingness to ally with more pliant and generally pro-government parties to challenge Putin's ruling United Russia party in local elections.

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