To many of his detractors abroad and loyal supporters at home, the Russian president is decisively executing a strategy to strengthen Russia at the expense of the West. In 2012, when she famously accused Putin of trying to "re-Sovietize" the region around Russia, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued, "We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it."
Indeed, Putin for years has advocated for a "multipolar" world order in which the current dominance of the U.S. is replaced by a more equitable balance of power. And many of Russia's dramatic moves over the past year - the annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine, an enthusiastic embrace of China and increasingly anti-Western rhetoric from Putin - could be interpreted as moving toward a multipolar world.
But Putin's opponents, particularly those within Russia, see him as less of a cunning mastermind and more of an out-of-touch autocrat who has started a fight with the West that Russia can't win.
On The Daily Circuit, we look at how the next year will play out for one of the world's biggest powers.