Recently, one of my students asked me: Why doesn’t the U.S. stop Vladimir Putin? He was no ordinary student, and this was no regular college. He was a senior military officer from an allied country, and we were at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where I’m a professor who teaches courses on national security strategy.

He is not alone. Many wonder how Putin gets away with it again and again and again. In the past few years, Russia blitzed the country of Georgia, cyber-crushed Estonia, claimed much of the Artic as “theirs,” invaded eastern Ukraine, stole Crimea, mucked around in Syria, increased submarine patrols to Cold War levels, and is worrying Eastern Europe. The Bear is back.

Five years ago, Washington, D.C., foreign policy elites mocked Russia. Now, no one is laughing. Last month, a Russian fighter jet did practice attack runs on an American destroyer in the Black Sea, flying so low it left a wake in the water, while in a separate incident another fighter did barrel rolls around a U.S. RC-135 spy plane.

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