As a Ukrainian growing up in the Soviet Union and being part of Russian and, more broadly, Slavic culture, I can confidently say that David Brooks is exactly right when he writes for the New York Times that the foundation of Putin’s actions is his belief in "Russian exceptionalism," which is an idea that "Russia has its own unique spiritual status and purpose" ("Putin believes in Russian exceptionalism," Opinion, March 4)
Brooks quotes one of Putin’s favorite philosophers, Ivan Ilyin, who writes that "Having lost our bond with God and the Christian tradition, mankind has been morally blinded, gripped by materialism, irrationalism and nihilism." The core of Putin’s view of Russia’s special role in the world, that leads him to take the actions that he does, is essentially religious which, in a strange way, unites him with ayatollahs, Christian fundamentalists and other religious extremists around the world.
Salt Lake City
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