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Threat of Putin casts shadow over Japan's peacetime defenses

Ukraine war shows potential cost of ineffective deterrence

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to reporters at the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos in June 2012. Authoritarian leaders rarely hold news conferences while at home.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Every politician has a unique aura. But of the numerous figures I have reported on over the years, Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly stands out.

I first attended a news conference by Putin in 2012, after the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. He had recently begun his second stint as president.

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