This was going to be a very different column article about Russia and Putin. I was going to sing the praises of Russia's hosting the winter games and how unfair I felt the western press had been towards Putin's moment in the world spotlight.
This was going to be a very different column article about Russia and Putin. I was going to sing the praises of Russia's hosting the winter games and how unfair I felt the western press had been towards Putin's moment in the world spotlight. I thought that these Olympics would finally show that Russia deserves its place among the civilized nations of the world. The article would have mentioned that Putin's own personal image got a shot in the arm during the winter games when he was seen talking with and shaking the hands of various athletes from all over the world.
I was going to acknowledge that Russia was able to keep the winter games and Olympic visitors safe despite the fears of terrorist violence predicted by the western press (namely the United States news services). I was going to tout the positive impact on world opinion towards Russia and Putin after pulling off what was perhaps the most spectacular winter Olympics in history. I was going to say that for the first time the viewers of the winter games began to see Putin in a different light and Russia as a new, modern country.
That was all before Putin decided to annex Crimea by illegally marching across the Russian border with Ukraine, occupying its neighbor while ignoring standing treaties with Great Britain, the United States and contrary to international law. In one defiant act, Putin and the Russians have managed to wipe out all of the goodwill they gained with the rest of the world while hosting the winter Olympics. Once again Russia has been relegated to the status of an aggressive military dictatorship despite the facade of what they claim is a burgeoning democracy.
Putin made the huge mistake of holding an hourlong western-style news conference with reporters regarding the crisis in Crimea. During his absurd charade, he told the press that Russia was not occupying Crimea with Russian troops. With his normal stoic face he said that the occupying troops were unknown forces there to restore order at the request of the ousted president of Ukraine. Putin then attempted to turn the blame for the situation towards the west by stating that it was America's fault for creating the crisis in Crimea by inciting unrest by the people in the first place.
The stakes are high for the people of the Ukraine, they obtained their independence from Russia by national referendum in 1954. The people of the Ukraine won their independence with an overwhelming majority vote which included Crimea. Now with Russian support it is feared that Ukraine will be split into two different nation states, Ukraine pro-western and Crimea aligned with Russia.
Russia using the same pretense as did Hitler during the beginning of the WWII, Russia now claims it is occupying Crimea to "protect the Russian speaking people living there." This being eerily similar to the excuse Hitler used when he annexed Austria and other neighboring countries with Germany. The true reason for the occupation is that Russia feared that a pro-western Ukraine might push the Russians out of their military bases in Crimea.
Unfortunately there is very little the United States can do to stop the Russians from annexing Crimea. We will talk tough and condemn Russia's actions while implementing sanctions but Putin knows that in the end he holds Crimea's destiny in his hands. The hope is that Russia will opt for a diplomatic solution so as not to lose the positive momentum gained on the world stage with the recent success of the winter Olympics.
I say that Putin is an unpredictable thug and he has not forgotten his political roots as the former director of the Russian KGB. He is the ruling dictator of Russia and he can continue to enjoy the, "Rubber stamping" of his policies by the Russian government. No one in the west should underestimate Putin as a very cunning adversary, ruthless and power hungry. There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Putin, just as brutal and dangerous as all the dictators which have come before him.