In 2014, Barack Obama was faced with the difficult task of trying to figure out what exactly Russian president Vladimir Putin was up to. Russian troops were occupying the Crimea and wreaking havoc in eastern Ukraine, while Putin claimed with a straight face that Moscow had nothing to do with what was happening. Mysterious incidents were occurring in Scandinavia and the Baltics that seemed to have provocative Russian fingerprints all over them. Was Putin just trying to protect the legitimate rights of Russian-speakers near his border, as some maintained? Were his intentions limited, or were these incursions the first steps in a secret plan to rebuild the Soviet empire? Would Estonia be next? Would this inscrutable kleptocrat really risk war with NATO?