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Putin's plot (04/14/2014)
From: James R. Puz

There’s much criticism over President Putin’s recent military ‘excursion’ into Crimea. So far, it’s gotten the response I’m sure he was looking for.

First, Russia’s desire to regain the recognition and respect she deserves as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, not only by the U.S. and its ‘allies,’ but by former Soviet republics. Aside from Russia’s unpopular support of Iran and Syria’s President Assad, even North Korea gets more press then Moscow.

Secondly, Putin’s desire to show that Russia protects her own and, like firing a gun in the midst of a crowd, Russia’s presence in Crimea has gotten everyone’s attention.

Predictably, Western powers, especially the U.S., jumped off the deep end. Politicians and pundits alike, with grim, hypocritical faces, lie prostrate before the god of political correctness. Gasps of diplomatic indignation are as loud as gas passed after a bean burrito. Theories of a new Cold War, a reincarnation of Hitler, and the reassembly of the old USSR are bouncing around like hail on a tin roof. None makes any sense, given the overall climate of today’s economic and geopolitical world. Mr. Putin, more than any foreign ‘expert’ on Russia and her history, knows full well the Soviet Union, despite all her rhetoric, didn’t work. However, with the Commonwealth of Independent States currently in place, a more refined ‘co-op’ might actually work.

Possibly Mr. Putin, though perhaps using a heavy hand, made his move to partially ease the Ukrainian dilemma. The Russian president isn’t stupid (I assume KGB officers rarely are) and with Crimea being fiercely pro-Russian, Mr. Putin has ventured into friendly territory. To some degree, it’s a win-win situation.

As restlessness grows, it tends to spread. Though a long shot, it’s not entirely unlikely that the Russian naval base at Sevastopol may have been seen as a target for terrorists from outside of Crimea. Everybody knows terrorism respects no bounds nor shows a shred of humanity. Russia’s history is painfully stained with the blood of millions who ran afoul of those facts. Thus, by going into the Crimean Peninsula and quickly expanding military action throughout the region, the former KGB officer has ‘protected’ Russian people and Russian military hardware.

Now the Russian President must capitalize on what he’s accomplished. Those with split allegiances within Ukraine, the Russians of Crimea and former Soviet republics will be looking to see if the Russian bear is for real or merely a rambunctious and unruly bear cub. There can be no sign of weakness or bluff.

If the President of Russia truly wants Central Asia (and the rest of the world) to recognize him as a leader and to put their faith in him (and that’s asking a lot), he will have to ignore all ‘red lines’ and pursue his agenda. The Russian president will have to change from a politician to a statesman, from a militarist to an economist and from a man fond of public displays to a real leader. Otherwise, a lot of time and energy will have been wasted while proving what many already believe... that Vladimir Putin is just a buffoon, prone to publicity stunts.



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