Unfortunately several recent accounts contain sheer speculation dressed up as certainty, and it is important to recognize that there are many known unknowns in Russian current affairs and, probably, an even greater number of unknown unknowns — and Western analysis, and any policy that is developed from it, needs to be rooted in the ground of what can be duly authenticated. Russia is too important to have its politics exaggerated, over-simplified or turned into a fantasy.

—Robert Service, Kremlin Winter, (London: Picador, 2019), xiv.

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