Putin isn’t simply a reactive and defensive actor on the world stage. His stated ambition is to restore the Russian empire. Moreover, he is arguably the foremost leader of a growing worldwide autocratic, fascist like movement. It isn’t a coincidence that Trump and other leaders of like mind here and abroad admire him. This isn’t an argument to turn the tempature up in an already explosive conflagration or step back from serious negotiations. Just the opposite. But it should figure into how we understand Putin – his actions and aims.