Presumably, if Putin aspires to be a latter-day czar, he would prefer to follow in the footsteps of one of the “great” ones — Peter I (1682-1725) and Catherine II (1762-1796) — or even the formidable Ivan the Terrible (1547-1584).
To be sure, a national government’s primary responsibility is to serve the interests of its own people. And national interests — say, in security and material prosperity — can be morally legitimate. But the pursuit of those interests to the exclusion of all other considerations would amount to the kind of ruthless nationalist realpolitik that Vladimir Putin is now playing so successfully.
The official word from Moscow is, Putin doesn’t give a sh*t.