We thought the Cold War was over.
Now Vladimir Putin has taken his nation back beyond that to the time of the Czars.
He himself is the new Czar. No joke.
The man who tried so hard to show the world that he was a socially conscious leader able to see things from an understanding, international viewpoint with his helming of the 2014 Winter Olympics turned and showed his dark side only a few scant days later with the turmoil in Crimea.
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Putin can’t handle protest. He doesn’t understand it. He fears it. He grew up in a country where you don’t dare raise a voice in protest to anything. You will get squashed. Putin learned early to be a squasher. He made it his profession.
He also made doing things underhandedly and secretive his policy. That is why he rose high in the strata at the KGB. He was good at it. Underground dirty tricks are another form of protest, one that is more effective when you want to change something that is generally accepted. Out and out protesting takes some guts. Doing things sneakily is easier, takes less courage and makes you feel smarter than everyone else; something Putin thrives on.
When Putin saw his buddy Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, getting screamed at by masses of protestors sick of his corrupt politics, he couldn’t understand it. He saw Yanukovych’s response (killing a few protestors with hidden sniper fire and sending in special police forces that beat protestors) as not strong enough, but still put him under his wing when Yanukovych flew the coop with millions in ill gotten loot when things got too hot.
Putin, scared by the very non-Soviet style upheaval taking place in their former comrade’s land, reacted paranoiacly to the situation. He snuck paramilitary personnel into the Crimea, Russia’s naval toe hold in the Black Sea, with the intention of wresting it away from Ukraine.
This is Russia’s old Soviet policy come back to life again- take what you want where and when you want it. It worked at the end of World War Two when the rampaging Soviet Army ‘liberated’ the soon to be east bloc countries and put them under Stalin’s iron fist.
The joke is that these lands later evolved to become more prosperous than Mother Russia herself despite her restraints, prompting many lower echelon Russians to move there for a better lifestyle.
Now these Russian citizens, themselves and their families well entrenched in the lands of Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic and so on, watch their Russian brethren in Eastern Ukraine connive to drape that land in the Russian flag and wish they could pull off the same in their adopted countries.
The old Russian bear has awoken and probably won’t be easily stuffed back in his lair. It saw how easily and effectively Putin’s underhanded methods have worked in Crimea and wants so badly to see how much more it can get away with.
Another old joke is that Russia has never been able to handle the huge territory it has already dominated. It was the largest country in the world land-wise and yet its people live in a poverty that would embarrass most other industrial European nations.
Putin wants to regain the “Great Russia” he remembers from his childhood (cue playing ‘Glory Days’ by Bruce Springsteen). Now he thinks he has a way of accomplishing that. At everyone else’s expense.