Russian diplomats from around the world gather to receive their President’s orders. The summit this year took place in July, a few months after Russia had invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea. The address from Russian President Vladimir Putin stood out for its martial tone. For the first time, he laid out the new priority for his diplomatic corps: defending ethnic Russians not living in Russia itself.
In Ukraine, Putin said, “militant nationalists” were rising again, leaving millions of ethnic Russians helpless outside the borders of the motherland. “I want you all to understand,” Putin intoned from the dais, the heavy red drapes of the stage sagging behind him, “our country will continue to defend the rights of Russians, of our compatriots abroad, using everything we have in our arsenal.”
The effect of these orders was to actively extend the Kremlin’s zone of influence far beyond Russia itself…
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