One could hardly describe the author as a fan of Vladimir Putin, save in the sense that one can respect the tigers he's fond of shooting, and therefore think carefully about watching their every move, although for those with a short memory, Russia in the late nineties was scaring a lot of people, even if the KGB-FSB may well have helped cause that to a certain extent to rationalize its own existence.
Russia in the late nineties scared a lot of people because it looked like a state with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons was being led by an alcoholic only intermittently coherent in a context of increasing lawlessness, if again, the KGB-FSB if you read that history carefully, for example Korzhakov's presence and other veterans of the service all over the place may well have been the real problem, and all trying to keep Russia on edge so that people would in fact clamor for a "strong hand," a "Russian Pinochet."
Lots of people in the latter part of the Soviet Union thought Russia needed a Pinochet, because few people in the Russian power elite have ever thought Russia suited for a full-blown Western democracy, if like with the CCP in China, that's also a self-serving reading of a history that one must also grant wouldn't make one an optimist as to its prospects as a democracy in the form we idealize.
So, the United States Senate is considering a measure known as the Magnitsky Amendment, which will sanction Russian officials for huamn rights violations.
(Magnitsky was an anti-corruption prosecutor who died in jail, almost surely for getting too close to the truth.)
Is that a good thing to do or not, on balance?
To a point, pressuring Russia in that fashion has its uses as to achieving U.S. diplomatic objectives, with Syria and Iran being the most obvious ones currently, if history also has a warning as to how at some point that can become counter-productive: the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, also currently up for review.
The Jackson-Vanik Amendment, named for Democratic "Hawk" Scoop Jackson, the Senator from Boeing some wags called him, and a Jewish New York Senator concerned about Russian Jews, purported to support Jewish immigration to Israel, although Kissinger, also of course Jewish, opposed it.
As to the warning, as tensions thawed in the late sixties with the beginnings of Detente, Jews were allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union, incentivized to a significant degree by their pride, and Russian backlash, against Israel's crushing victory in the Six Day War.
By the early seventies, more than 40,000 Jews were leaving the Soviet Union annually,a real brain drain for the Soviet Union, especially becaus under the surface, the Soviet Union was entering its decline then, if it didn't look like that militarily at all.
Thus, the Soviets had second thoughts about Jewish immigration, and imposed an exit tax for the cost of education of their citizens, also probably hoping to encourage people to stay somewhat, since the Jews in the Soviet Union were thought of as somewhat of the "brains of the operation."
They still let a huge increase compared to as before go on, but such a thing as an exit tax of course ticked off many Americans who objected to the idea of any limits on people being able to leave the country, even if it was a huge improvement over Stalin, and beat being given prison or medicine to cure your illness of not seeing the wonders of Socialism, and so passed the Jackson-Vanik Amendment denying many financing benefits to trade with Russia, especially in automotives and energy that otherwise would have been available.
Exactly as predicted by Kissinger, who pleaded against the amendment on practical grounds, the Soviets cut off Jewish immigration almost completely, which of course was totally against the stated purpose of the Amendment, if some thought on both sides that the real point was to sabotage Detente.
If sabotaging Detente was the point, it went well.
Now since the Soviet Union failed, that seems like water under the bridge, except that Russia has clearly returned in a big way, and so therefore has Russian pride.
Thus, being careful of knowing when to stop in victory with the Russians in pressuring them domestically is important, even if it would seem to be a good carrot to hold out to induce the Russians to cooperate over Syria amd Iran with WTO membership pendning most especially, since its one thing to pick up a stick to threaten to club Iran, rather another thing to do so with the Russian Federation, if of course implicitly that risk sometimes is run as well.