It is in this context that Putin’s annexation of Crimea and threatening moves towards the rest of Ukraine must be understood. A few Western government officials and journalists have been fooled by Putin’s false pretext of invading Ukraine to protect the rights of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers. But one need only glance at Moscow to see that Putin does not care about the rights of ethnic Russians: He is violating human rights of all kinds inside his own fortress. As we watch the plundering of Ukraine on our television screens, it is vital to remember that Putin is shutting Russia down—and his Ukrainian intervention is serving as convenient excuse to take things even further. Today, when the Kremlin has an ever-tighter grip on what Russians watch, say and even think, there are real fears that Russia, in 2014, is but one small step away from becoming a full-blown dictatorship.