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World Cup plaudits cheer Putin as Russia revels in spotlight

Country is putting on its best face to welcome the world, in a case study in effective soft power

Vladimir Putin wore a broad smile when the US national security adviser, John Bolton, gave him an extra special compliment on Wednesday. “We are most appreciative of your courtesy and graciousness here and I look forward to learning how you handled the World Cup so successfully, among other things,” Bolton told Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin.

A top US official at the Kremlin complimenting Putin’s World Cup as they arranged a summit with Donald Trump. Was this real life or just the Russian president’s fantasy? Could it have gone any better?

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