Will Vladimir Putin Invade Estonia?

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.

 

 

Jennifer Ciotta, Putin expert on The Project TV, Australia

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

 

 

Vladimir Putin, a Wicked Plan for Boston

Tuesday night, one day after the Boston Marathon explosions, I had a speaking engagement focusing on Vladimir Putin and my novel. I ended the talk saying that if the police and FBI were to find out the perpetrators of the explosions were international terrorists, Putin would be involved. He’s been calling for a joint blacklist of terrorists between the US and Russia to no avail, since the US believes that Russia’s blacklist consists of political dissidents as well. I asked the audience if Putin is still the bad guy for wanting to serve his country’s interests first by protecting it, and meanwhile, cooperate with the US. All I heard was crickets and a few anti-Putin grumbles in the back.

Fast forward to yesterday, Friday. I wake up to hear that…surprise, surprise, the terrorists may have Chechen ties. One even went back to Dagestan last year on a mystery trip. The manhunt then came to end last night, thankfully, and I woke up again this morning to hear that Vladimir Putin is calling for a cooperation between US and Russian intelligence; he will help the US in any way possible.

Bet those audience members from Tuesday night are saying, “Damn, that little woman who wrote about Putin was right!”

Damn straight I am. I know Putin and I know that, like any leader of any country, he serves his nation’s interests first, and rightfully so. (When has the US not served its interests first?) Russians have been fighting Chechen terrorism since the 19th century, including most notably the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004 and the Moscow theater siege in 2002. Both events ended horrifically and both were caused by Chechen rebels. This group of terrorists is no joke. They’re terrifying; and if you look up the details of Beslan and what happened to the children, I promise you, you’ll want to vomit.

Thus it makes sense that Putin is calling for a joint blacklist and shared intelligence. The US needs to cooperate. I know we’re sore over the Russian adoption ban, and Russia is pissed about the Magnitsky Act…but even stubborn Putin understands what happened in Boston is much bigger than all of it. He and Russians, they understand terror, much more than we do here; they’ve lived with it on a daily basis…not once in a while, like here. They’ve seen black widow suicide bombers on their streets, apartment buildings blown up, children thrown from windows like pieces of garbage, and two bloody wars with Chechnya. In other words, Putin and Russia have a vested interest in finding these terrorists too and bringing them to justice.

Putin’s interest extends even further due to one major upcoming event: the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is his baby and will be held in Sochi, Russia, a mere 300 miles from the terrorist region. The last thing Putin wants is a terrorist plot to be carried out at his precious Olympic games. If that were to happen, all hell would break loose. Just look at Putin’s bloody, brutal Second Chechen War that he started as prime minister in 1999. That war went on for a long time, and if you go to Chechnya today…I guarantee you, you won’t see much except a lot of leftover destruction and dirt.

I hope the result of this tragedy will be that the US and Russia cooperate on intelligence. We’re fighting the same war. We have a common enemy, thus we’re friends.

By the way, in my novel, I, Putin, I had an extensive chapter about Chechnya and the Chechen War, but I ended up taking it out. I felt it didn’t fit with the rest of the book. But I will go back and look at that chapter today; perhaps I’ll post it online…

*

My thoughts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions and the police officer killed and the other seriously wounded during the manhunt.

Boris Berezovsky, Let’s Blame It on Putin!

The American media is amazingly predictable. I click on CNN and guess what I see? A huge photo of Russian oligarch and tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who died today at 67 years of age. And supposedly…no one knows how…yet. Natural questions arise, such as: What did Berezovsky die of? Why did he die so young (by Western standards)? And…dun dun dun! Was he murdered? All of these questions then lead to…

Vladimir Putin.

Yes, as I discuss openly in my novel, Berezovsky was Putin’s enemy. He was exiled, living in London after all, like many of the oligarchs. Berezovsky was in no way a choir boy. He was one of the oligarchs that took full advantage of the chaos of the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. He was a billionaire, and many Russians believe he acquired his money through unethical practices. Putin was one of them.

It’s been famously told, and I re-created the actual event in I, Putin, that in summer 2000, Putin had all the oligarchs come to the Kremlin and warned them to stay out of politics…or else. He made good on his threat, most notably with Mikhail Khodorkovsky. But again, Khodorkovsky is no choir boy either.

You see to understand Russia and the way it works, you have to think in shades of grey, not in black and white like us Westerners do. And when thinking in grey, you have to realize that sometimes not everything is as it seems. The Western/American media doesn’t always have it right. And insinuations aren’t always right.

Just because Berezovsky died doesn’t mean Vladimir Putin is behind his death. Enough said.

I, Putin Wins Honorable Mention at NY Book Festival!

I am delighted to announce that I, PUTIN (Vladimir Putin novel) won an Honorable Mention at the New York Book Festival 2012!

I’m so happy for the author, Jennifer Ciotta. And I’m sure Gospodin Putin would be proud too. I still haven’t told him about the book, though I think he would like it very much.

Oh, and I know Americans are about to celebrate Father’s Day, so make sure to buy your father a copy of I, PUTIN, which is available on Amazon in paperback and on the Kindle, and on the Nook, iBook, Sony ereader and more.

Congratulations!

~ Gosha

Botox & Hot Women: How Vladimir Putin Will Tweak His Image

Vladimir Putin will be inaugurated again, for the third, yep, the third time as president of Russia. So what are we to expect? People ask me this question when they’ve heard I’ve written a novel about Putin, and my answer is: TWEAK.

Putin is learning how to become the master of tweaking his image. Will he change overnight, wake up and become Mr. Nice Guy? No. But he will tweak his image to keep his popularity in Russia, to keep that 60 percent of the vote. Two ways he’s done it so far is by embracing his “ladies man” image, since he is rumored to be having an affair with 1) a hot Russian spy and/or 2) a super flexible Russian gymnast. Either way, it looks good for him, since he’s seen as young, vital and energetic–all the qualities that helped him get elected the first time around, because he was a departure from the aging, inebriated Boris Yeltsin.

Then there’s the face. I personally cannot tell if he’s had Botox or a facelift, yet I’m going to venture it’s a combination of both. Putin’s face looks scarily soft, shiny and wrinkle-free. People may be critical of his decision to beautify himself, but really, what choice does he have? He’s pushing 60, a portion of the Russian middle class resents him and he has to appear young if he plans to stay in power until 2024. Imagine if Dick Cheney had some needles injected in his face; it may have done wonders for his political career.

As far as I’m concerned, Putin will not make a huge change to his personality and the way he conducts business. Instead, he’ll focus on tweaking his image here and there. A little nip here. A little tuck there. Here are the tweaks I believe Putin will make in the near future:

  • Ripping off his shirt once a month (at least)
  • Selecting a television program to make fun of him…a little
  • Entering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just to prove he’s still got it

 

Whether Russians like it or not, they have another six years of Putin. He will be the same Putin, the one we know today, and the one we’ll know even more after the next six years as president.

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