But could it be that Putin means something quite different - and that for him and his generation of Russians the USSR is a shorthand for an era of lost stability and respect? Is Putin just tactless, or actually dangerous?
Western leftists think the CIA created al Qaeda by helping the mujahideen shoot down Russian helicopters. They’re wrong. The CIA program to arm anti-Soviet Afghan mujahideen with Stinger missiles saved lives.
The alliance has proved remarkably enduring, and rarely have Russia and Turkey enjoyed such a stretch of fruitful cooperation. But so much hinges on the personal relationship between Putin and Erdoğan. Not even they can change the brittle nature of a relationship between two powers that have been rivals for centuries.
Confidential contacts can be virtually anyone: politicians, diplomats, scientists, businessmen, engineers, and reporters. They have no state secrets to pass on, and the safest way of engaging them is in plain sight, under the guise of their everyday work.