I constantly get asked, “Will Putin push farther into Ukraine?” and “Will Putin invade the Baltic states?” And here’s how I answer these questions.

Vladimir Putin is two things: an opportunist and an absolute capitalist. Putin began practicing judo at a young age, and one important aspect of the sport, is the judo master uses his opponent’s strength against him. He looks for his opportunity to crush and he proceeds to do so. This mentality describes Putin perfectly. Let’s look at the Georgia crisis in 2008. What happened? Russia pushed into neighboring Georgian territory, the world was kinda upset, and then we all forgot about it.

Fast forward to 2014. Russia pushes, or some people would use the word “annexes”, into Crimea, the eastern part of Ukraine. The world takes notice…and surprise…it totally pisses people off. My guess? Putin was surprised at the response. He probably thought it would be another Georgia where people would forget about it in a week and move on to more important things, like Kim Kardashian’s next husband. But, we didn’t forget. In fact, people are still up in arms and concerned that Russia is pushing into Crimea and may push farther in Ukraine, as far as Kiev, the capital.

What’s stopping Putin from marching troops into the whole of Ukraine? The sanctions the world has imposed on Russia are hurting her economically. As I said before, Putin is an absolute capitalist. So when Russia is hit financially, that wakes Putin up to reality. If the world had a response like the 2008 Russo-Georgian crisis, he’d be hanging out in Kiev, setting his sights on the Baltic states.

Which brings me to…Estonia. Will he invade Estonia? My answer is yes…but only if he sees the right opportunity and this opportunity may have already passed, meaning that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, also known as the Baltic states, are in NATO. NATO will protect these three countries militarily. It would take a majorly sly, fox-like opportunity for Putin to get in Estonia now, and if he does, I guarantee the world will have a collective freak-out. Keep in mind, Estonia is small nation, only the size of New Hamsphire and Vermont put together. It has a mere one million inhabitants, who for the most part, are nonviolent. How did the Estonians fight their aggressors, the Soviets, back in the day? Well, they held a Singing Revolution, which was a literal singing protest. And the three Baltics states participated in the Baltic Way, where the protestors held candles and national flags with black ribbons. But let’s be serious…as much as I love the Baltic people, especially the Estonians, that shit isn’t going to cut it. And that means all-out war against Russia, with the NATO states fighting the battle. The nonviolence aspect aside, Estonia is a tiny country with a teeny-tiny military. Combat against Russia? It will be a blood bath. Estonia needs her NATO sisters to fight that war.

But what if…what if Putin found a way to slide in the middle of the night into Estonia? Where would he enter? The answer is easy: Narva, Estonia. Narva is a city that’s nearly 94 percent Russian speaking. When I would visit there, I couldn’t speak any Estonian at all. I had to switch to Russian. The street signs are in Russian, the people are Russian. There’s a small bridge over a small river separating Narva from Russia. A small, walking bridge. That’s it. I would sit on the banks of the Narva River and watch Russian workers walk over the bridge in the morning to go to their jobs in Estonia, and in the afternoon, return to Russia.

Eighty-two percent of Narva’s population is ethnic Russian, compared to not even 4 percent that are ethnic Estonian. That’s a problem. Couple that with Estonian-Russian relations are always heated. The Estonians view the Russians as occupiers. The ethnic Russians feel they aren’t treated well as the minority living in the east side of Estonia. In 2007, the ethnic Russians got super pissed off at the Estonians when the Estonian government decided to relocate the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn. The ethnic Russians viewed it as a direct insult to them, and in response, they rioted for two nights in Tallinn (referred to as Bronze Night), beseiged the Estonian embassy in Moscow for a week, and cyber-attacked Estonian organizations. The moral of the story? Never piss off an-already angry Russian.

If Putin and his army seized an opportunity and came marching into Narva, the ethnic Russians living in Narva would probably be OK with it. And happy about it. The Estonians? Not so much.

My prediction is if Putin has the opportunity, if he doesn’t suffer economically from his actions, and if NATO doesn’t fight back–a perfect storm of three aspects that seem impossible to me–he’s going into Narva. On a personal level, if this happens, I fear for the Estonian people. I lived in a village in the south of Estonia for two years, and I fully understand how much they value and cherish their independence and their way of life. What a lot of people don’t understand about Estonians is that they’re not that culturally Russian influenced, not as much as you would think. The Estonian culture is similar to that of Finnish culture, their neighbor to the north. Estonian language is similar to Finnish; I could understand some Finnish because I could understand some Estonian. The golden rule of silence, the stoic personality, the treating friends like family, the shamanic roots, the secular society, etc. it’s all more related to the Finns. Even the way the Estonians dress their children in winter clothing and have a love for cross-country skiing, that’s more connected to the Finns. For Estonians, an invasion by Russia would be heartbreaking, a loss of culture and identity…again.

Also, the Baltic states, especially Estonia, have done an incredible job of recovering economically from the collapse of the Soviet Union. They have thriving economies, each individually. Estonia is technologically advanced and is a popular tourist destination. Cruise ships dock in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city, and Europeans spend long weekends for bachelor parties there. When I visited in 2008, I couldn’t believe how “EU” Tallinn had become. Where’s my little Tallinn, I thought. I have memories of walking around the medieval fortress city and going to pubs and restaurants with my friends. My favorite restaurant is now long gone, swallowed up by fancy EU restaurants and Westernized store chains. But I’m happy for the Estonians. I’m happy they’re doing well.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe everything Putin does is right. I’m against the gay propaganda nonsense, the international adoption ban, and I’m certainly against invading Estonia. I only hope Putin doesn’t get the perfect opportunity, because if he does, I know what’s coming. And it won’t be good for Estonia.

 

 

Daniel Wagner, political risk expert, and I co-wrote the following article that appeared on April 10, 2014 in the South China Morning Post entitled “How to Read Vladimir Putin.”

The article also appears in:

 

Finally, my take on why Putin invaded Crimea! And it’s not what you’ve read before. Hint: It involves the Kursk submarine tragedy. ~ Jennifer

Hey everyone, I’m happy to announce that my article entitled “Vladimir in Love” made the front page of International Policy Digest, which is a political magazine I highly respect. Besides checking out my piece, I suggest browsing around and taking a look at the other articles on the site. There’s a lot of unique views and fascinating topics. In my article, I discuss the real reason which I believe is why Putin invaded Ukraine. And it’s probably not what you think. Open your mind beyond the Western version of Putin and find out what really makes him tick. Thank you! Jennifer

Hi everyone, I’m happy to announce I was the Putin expert interviewed on Australia’s Project TV…their version of “Entertainment Tonight.” Please check out the video; I come in at 2 minutes, 16 seconds. Thanks for your support, Jennifer

 

 

LOL. This is too funny. As I predicted, Putin is off and running into American pop culture. We’ll see a lot more from him in days to come. Good job, SNL!

Video link:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/obama-ukraine-address-cold-open/2755291

I’m thrilled to announce that today, March 5, 2014, I, Putin hit the Amazon Kindle best seller list for historical Russian fiction, ranked #13, right after Dr. Zhivago. Thank you to all of you who’ve supported the book. This is a major goal for me, and I’ll remain happy for at least the next 24 hours ;) ~ Jennifer

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?

Nope.

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.

It’s the Vladimir Putin we all know and love. Skiing, playing hockey, signing anti-gay legislation. That’s a typical, shirtless day for the Russian president. But as the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia come closer and closer (February 2014), the leader has a lot more to worry about besides his bravado and antics. Let’s start with the two suspected suicide bombings that occurred in Vologograd, Russia. More than 30 people were killed. Then let’s work our way back to the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred in April 2013. This tragedy didn’t happen on Russian soil, but it alerted the world to terrorism at a major sporting event. And let’s not forget, the terrorists responsible for this act had ties to Chechen rebel groups.

Now the Olympics in Sochi. Will terrorists attack the Olympic Village or somewhere else to divert attention? Is Putin prepared to hinder potential terrorist plots from radicals? Is the FSB up for the job? The answer is: we shall see. It’s not a good answer but an honest one.

You have to keep in mind the location of Sochi and its crime background as a city. First, Sochi lies less than 200 miles from the Northern Caucasus region, where tension brews with radical groups. Putin has had major problems with this area in the past, including tensions with Georgia and Chechnya. Then there’s Sochi itself. My Russian studies professor described it as the “Wildwood, NJ” of Russia; he basically said it was cheesy. OK, whatever. But then my classmate in a Russian studies class, whose husband is Russian, said that the husband’s friend visited Sochi several years back. Upon exiting the train, bandits attacked him and took all his possessions, including his clothing. She said Sochi is known for its bandits. That’s when I decided not to visit the city as research for my novel.

So Sochi is rogue, cheesy, and close to a terrorist region. That doesn’t make for a fun, stable environment for the Olympic Village. However, Putin, bless his heart, as he did with the anniversary of St. Petersburg, has basically built a wall encasing the built-up parts of Sochi. Outsiders like us don’t have to see the ugly parts on television.

I have to say, I’m worried about the safety of those who attend the Sochi Olympics. All the moving parts aren’t broadcasting safety, and with the recent bombings in Volgograd, just six weeks prior to the Olympics, it may be a warning sign. Are terrorists planning something horrific? Many people don’t understand the ramifications of a terrorist attack in a global sense. The Sochi Olympics is Putin’s baby. If this baby is scraped or maimed in any way, there will be all-out war. Putin will go after whoever is to blame. That’s a scary consequence too. If anyone disagrees, please reference the Second Chechen War.

All Putin can do is enlist the FSB and security to the max. The rest is out of his hands. The only thing I hope to see this Olympics are the snowboarders and skiiers sailing down the slopes…and nothing more eventful.

 

 

 

Many of you wonderful readers have written to me personally telling me how much you’ve enjoyed I, Putin. I appreciate hearing from all of you. It makes my day each time!

I was hoping you would carry that enthusiasm onto Amazon.com, and rate and review I, Putin on Amazon. It will only take two minutes of your time, literally, to rate the book and write a small review. One or two sentences is fine. Amazon reviews are crucial for authors and our books.

Btw, you guys are taking it to the people on Goodreads.com, which is awesome, where as of today, I, Putin has 40 ratings and 21 reviews. Yay!

Thank you for all your support…

Jennifer

P.S. Here’s my new back cover. What do you think?

Would the US handle a Russian whistleblower the same way Russia has handled the Snowden situation? A fascinating question that CEO & foreign policy expert Daniel Wagner answers in this 4-minute interview! A must-see…

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