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YOU DON'T SAY - NATO's Gen. Breedlove Says Russia Could Be Worse Without Putin

Strategic decisions in Russia are made by Putin and a close circle of men he trusts to put the interests of Russia first. But even the West grudgingly admits Putin is a very reasonable person to deal with

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a reasonable politician and a strong leader, so NATO prefers to deal with him rather than his circle, Gen. Philip Breedlove, Top Commander of U.S. and Alliance Forces in Europe, said Tuesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

"In my group of advisers… I think the consensus-that I fully agree with-would be somewhere along this line that no, the decision making in Moscow is not about one person, but yes, it is about one person surrounded by a very small group," Breedlove said.

"And we all agree that we will probably be dealing with this one person and some resemblance of that same small group for some time to come in the future… We are unsure that we would be in a better place if Mr. Putin was not there. He may be a more reasonable voice in the middle of that group," he said.

"We have a very strong leader who is surrounded by a small group of people who make the decisions. Most of those decisions are focused on the preservation of the regime. We believe that that group will be with us for some time. Their ability to shape the Russian people’s approach and understanding is pretty firm. And we’re not sure that we might be in a better place if we saw a change," Gen. Breedlove said.

Prior to the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which took place April 20 in Brussels, the Kremlin stated that there is distrust between the Russian Federation and the alliance, which will be hard to overcome.

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