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Putin, however, has now all but given up on a peaceful relationship with the United States, viewing geopolitics as a Cold War-style "zero-sum" game for influence and power, McFaul said.
"Putin thinks that the United States is out to get Russia, is out to weaken Russia, is out to win in zero-sum terms, not win-win outcomes. And that's a fundamental different world view," he said.
The Kremlin has portrayed the turmoil that erupted in Ukraine in late 2013 as the result of Western meddling and the "Euromaidan" protests that pushed President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014 as a U.S.-backed coup.
Russian media, most of which is beholden to state influence, have routinely pointed to the presence of a top State Department official handing out food to protesters in Kyiv as indicative of U.S. involvement.
"When you think that handing out cookies is leading to regime change, you're assigning a lot of power to one individual…. To me that's a sign of Russia's weakness and Russia's insecurities, not the other way around," McFaul said.
"On the one hand, they talk about Obama being weak. And on the other hand, they seem scared to death of Obama. And every little thing that he and his administration do, they think is designed to destroy Russia," he said. "I mean, you know, a more competent country, a more competent leadership would not be worrying every day that Russia is about to be destroyed.
"Nobody in America, for instance, worries about the United States being undermined by Russia," he said. "We're not worried every night that Texas is going to leave because of some Russian power thing. I think there's a real schizophrenia about American power in Russia today."..............
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