The invasion drew the ire of the U.S. as the aggressor burned through reserves to defend its currency before ultimately appealing to the International Monetary Fund.

It’s not a blueprint for 21st century Russia, but the path followed by the U.K. in 1956. It’s not about Ukraine but the Suez Canal.

The history shows why Vladimir Putin won’t -- and can’t -- for now pursue an obvious way out of Russia’s financial straits: Then, as now, the U.S. wielded a veto over IMF loans.

“This is a situation calling out for IMF involvement,” said Phillip Swagel, a former IMF and U.S. Treasury official who now teaches...

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