If you are one of those people who sees Vladimir Putin as just another crackpot depot in some far away country…think again. Vladimir Putin is the real deal.
Yesterday the residents of Crimea voted to secede from the Ukraine and ally themselves with Putin’s Russian Federation. The option of remaining a part of the Ukraine was noticeably absent from the ballot.
Western leaders condemned the legitimacy of the referendum and vowed to impose economic sanctions. They seemed to believe that the presence of thousands of Russian military personnel stationed at the polls may have played a part in the outcome.
Putin doesn’t care. Putin has long coveted the Crimean peninsula for its warm water ports and predominantly Russian speaking citizenry. Putin conveniently alleged that when violence broke out in the Ukraine and the pro-Russian government was overthrown, he had a civic if not moral duty to protect the Russian population in Crimea. And when Russian workers in an industrial complex just over Crimean boarder were threatened by anti-government protesters Putin had no choice but to send his troops over the border to lend a hand.
Ukraine is a country divided between the pro-European factions in the west and the pro-Russian east. It is a country preparing for war in the belief that it is Putin’s next target. Those fears are well founded. Putin is coming.
He’s done this before. Moldova and Georgia are already occupied by Russian military forces. George Bush stood by with his hands in his pockets and let it happen. The world screamed and hollered but Putin didn’t care. He doesn’t care now.
Putin is pissed that Russia lost the cold war. His goal is to return the Motherland to world prominence. He understands the he presides over a second rate economy that is solely dependent on its minerals and oil reserves. He also understands that his oil reserves fill the tough from which most of Europe drinks. He is willing to bet that they will let him get away with whatever he wants as long as he keeps the trough full.
Today the EU will decide on a response to Putin’s military interventions. Economic sanctions seem to be in order. EU leaders can cause him a great deal of grief by freezing his assets. But will they? Remember the trough!
Putin is not just another paper tiger wacko like Hussein, or Kaddafi or Assad. While he shares their propensity for erratic behavior there are no faux WMDs with Putin. Rattle his cage and he has the capability of dropping a nuke down your chimney.
Putin presents Obama with his toughest challenge. As leader of the world’s lone superpower it is up to him to build a worldwide consensus against the legitimately unhinged and dangerous Russian leader.
Putin is dangerous…very, very dangerous. And he IS coming.