Russia has lost a year sinking into its economic degradation, dragging its feet over the withdrawal from the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine, and stepping into the quagmire of the Syrian chaotic war.
The only place where Putin can assert his leadership happens to be Syria, and he is exploiting to the maximum the confusion in Western management of this catastrophe by presenting himself as a determined enforcer of stability. His Western counterparts are probably as fed up with his cynical posturing as Nemtsov was, but have to pin their hopes on the Syrian ceasefire for lack of better options. Every party to the war expects the pause in hostilities to break down, and Russia stands ready to take advantage of that. But the sum total of the risks Moscow is taking grows taller every day. Boris Nemtsov proved that Putin’s regime has mutated into a deadly and deeply corrupt cabal, and, in death, he keeps asking Russians and their friends how long this can be tolerated.