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We should listen to dictators when they tell us their plans

Autocrats who preach irredentism usually follow words with actions

| Russia & Caucasus
Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Moscow on Feb. 1: The outward-facing rhetoric will be moderate, and many observers will interpret it as a theatrical way for the state to seek reasonable ends.   © AP

Anthony W. Holmes was special adviser for North Korea in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2017-2021. He is currently a senior nonresident fellow at the Project 2049 Institute. The views expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization or agency.

On Feb. 21, just three days before Russia again invaded Ukraine, and after months of telegraphed intent and undisguised military build-up, the BBC reported that "there are reasons to believe that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine might not happen" because "Putin has already made his point."

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