Does Vladimir Putin confuse you?
It seems he confuses the hell out of the Western media. I’ve been reading a lot of media blogs and watching newscasts regarding the invasion of Ukraine. Journalists argue, calling Putin all sorts of names, doing the usual vilification dance. Putin is a thug, the devil, bully, blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all before.
Here’s the problem: You can’t get to the essence of a man if you constantly assume. When Putin’s name comes up, that’s what the media does. Then we, the viewers, form an opinion based on what the media thinks we should believe.
So let’s stop assuming and look at reality. Let’s delve into the mind of Vladimir Putin, as I do in my novel. What was Putin thinking when he invaded Ukraine?
He seized an opportunity for Mother Russia. To me, that’s why people are so confused about him. As someone said to me today, “I can’t put my finger on it” in regard to Putin. I believe what people can’t “put their finger on” is that Putin truly believes he’s serving his country’s best interests. Of course, he is an egomaniac. What politician isn’t? But Putin serves the interests of Russia, and Obama serves the interests of the US. How is one leader different from the other on this basic element, except for the way he goes about it?
Recently, Russia has cooperated with the US, but the media chooses to give this no air time, e.g., Iran. (“US, Russia quietly cooperate on Iran,” Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2013). Notice the word “quietly.” Or “US, Russia Cooperate to Reduce Nuclear Threats,” Belfer Center at Harvard University, Winter 2013-14. While the aforementioned examples of cooperation are not perfect or altruistic, since each country is serving its own interests, they still ring true that Russia has put forth effort in regard to relations with the US. And vice-versa.
As we all continue to laugh in our heads as Obama squeaks out to the world: “I condemn you, Russia and Putin,” Putin is laughing out loud. Again, the man behind Russia is seizing an opportunity. Obama doesn’t scare anyone…probably not even his daughters when they misbehave. You think this “condemnation” has Putin shaking in his Prada suit?
But Obama and the West do have him by the balls in one area, which is why I believe Putin talked with Obama for 90 minutes yesterday. Foreign investment. The Russian economy is in a slow downward spiral; the lavish spending on the Sochi Winter Olympic Games and Putin’s oil-centered investment portfolio for Russia have created problems, especially since natural resource commodity prices are falling. Another major issue is foreign investors have been and continue to pull out of Russia. If the Ukraine situation escalates further, more foreign investors may pull out of Russia. This could put Putin in a precarious position by isolating his beloved Russia from international investment. If Obama and his European allies set this stage of economic isolation–in other words, Russia is the odd man out–then Obama will gain strength. And Putin would have to rethink his strategy.
As usual, time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: Putin has the power play for now, and there’s nothing confusing about that.