What do most of us in the public know about Vladimir Putin apart from him being the current longtime leader of Russia? Not a lot probably?
Like many Russian leaders before him, he is a bad piece of work (you will have heard of some past infamous deeds & names – Lenon, Trotsky, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev). The difference though is that although he is an old school traditional hardnosed communist, he is outwardly a smoothie, fluent in German, an English speaker (with some Swedish), and an ultra smart political operator to boot. He has run rings round the rest of the World’s leaders, and has outwitted them time and time again, since he took power some fifteen years ago (circumventing the Russian constitution to do so).
The writing was on the wall from the start – he did the traditional things of tyrannical oligarch. He got the military in his power – easy really, you just increase their money & power. He quietly seized control of the media, and he neutralized any opposition – easy really, when you were head of the secret service (KGB).
Putin certainly misses the days of the USSR when Russia controlled their neighbours, and his actions are all about power – that is the aphrodisiac of all those who rise to the top isn’t it?
Like all naughty children, he pushes at the boundaries and sees what he can get away with (in his case on the world stage) – and the answer has been everything. Why is that? It is because the United Nations is rudderless & ineffective, the EU is toothless & leaderless, and Western democratic leaders are inactive while talking tough.
Currently Putin is subjecting eastern Ukraine to military terror & invasion – he is getting away with it.
A month and a half ago Putin was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian civilian airliner– he is getting away with it.
Six months ago Putin invaded Ukraine and grabbed Crimea (the first such action on mainland Europe since WW2) – he is getting away with it.
Six years ago Putin carved up Georgia and blocked UN action – he got away with it.
Fifteen years ago Putin embarked on a ten year military action to devastate & control Chechnya – he got away with it.
When a despot carries out despicable deeds there are certain simple rules to follow to escape consequences, aren’t there. First you vehemently deny it (whatever the irrefutable evidence) until it goes away forgotten – if your soldiers are captured in Ukraine ‘they got lost’, if an airliner gets blown out of the sky ‘not you but you will investigate’, if heavy tanks & guns go across the border ‘you know nothing, etc; justify any action you take as being to protect associated countrymen from terrorist attacks or illegitimate regimes.
Oh yes, Mr. Putin is confident of his plan’s success. His problems at home are offset by soaring popularity for a conquering hero, giving pride back to a failing & demoralised nation (the same tactic used by Hitler of course). He wanted Crimea as it is the base for his nuclear submarines, but to service it effectively he needs a land corridor to it through Ukraine (when the new powers in Kiev switched their gaze, to look west for their future & more freedom, Putin pounced). WHO is going to stop him?
And yes, Russia is being subjected to some travel restriction for individuals & financial type sanctions – will they hurt? Certainly. Will they be effective? Certainly NOT. They simply make him even more popular at home – it’s the blitz syndrome isn’t it? You see Russia has a lot going for it – it has oil & gas, and others are dependent on it. Like Ukraine itself and Germany (forty percent of their gas). Putin has timed his offensive knowing quite well that winter is coming (and when the really bad weather kicks-in he will make his next move surely?).
I make no apology for ‘repeating here the final paragraph from a previous post in March 2014 about Russia :-
[You don’t have to be an experienced world expert or even a senior politician, nor a mealy mouthed diplomat to know what SHOULD have been done about Russia, do you? Simply we should ban the Russians from the world stage. That would have brought them to heel in short time wouldn’t it? No Russians whatsoever to travel or be given comfort anywhere. All diplomatic ties severed as well. Will anything like that happen? Dream on everybody, we live in the real world don’t we?]