With the arrest of a Wall Street Journal correspondent on Thursday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signaled to the world that he was doubling down on the country’s wartime isolation.

Russia has expelled foreign journalists in recent years, but in jailing an American reporter, Evan Gershkovich, and formally accusing him of being a spy, the Kremlin took a step with no precedent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a stunningly provocative move, aimed at one of the best-known Western journalists still working inside Russia and his employer, a pillar of the American news media.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin sought to get his message out to Western audiences, apparently betting that he could win some sympathy amid his conflict with their governments. But a long-held assumption that he is keen on trying to keep some lines of communication open with the West is now firmly obsolete.

Instead, Mr. Putin seems to have embraced a state of political, economic and cultural estrangement from the West more extreme than at any point since the end of the Cold War. It is an isolation that has arrived with dizzying swiftness, one unimaginable even as Russia built up its forces on Ukraine’s borders early last year.

“An epoch of open confrontation has begun,” Dmitri A. Muratov, the Russian newspaper editor who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, said in a phone interview from Moscow. From the Kremlin’s point of view, he went on, “the louder the conflict, the better.”

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