Monday, July 17, 2006

The Rise of Vladimir Putin

The Telegraph has a great analysis of Putin's rise to power; not just as a leader of Russia where he has systematically taken control of the country, but of his influence in the world.

"What makes Putin such a formidable opponent is that he knows how to identify your weak spot and he exploits it mercilessly," said a western diplomat. "Unlike any other G8 leader, he can use the most undiplomatic language and he can get away with it."
He can, with ease, tell off other world leaders, including Bush who chided Putin on the anti-democratic measures he's been using in Russia. Bush said that he should try Iraq-style Democracy to which Putin replied:

To that, Putin replied, "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy that they have in Iraq, quite honestly."
How does he do it? The Telegraph article continues:

Yet no matter how much he humiliates his fellow statesmen, Mr Putin seems to be able to get away with it. That is partly because, despite his dour public persona, he charms those who meet him in private - even hardened politicians. He gives the impression, say those who know him, of not just listening to every word his visitor utters but of agreeing wholeheartedly with it too. So at a private dinner, when the issue of democracy was raised, Mr Putin soothed his guests, promising that he would abide by Russia's constitution and stand down in 2008. Diplomats said leaders appeared satisfied with the pledge. In reality, it seems there is not a lot that other leaders can do to rein in Mr Putin's autocratic tendencies. Unlike every country apart from America, Russia is directly involved in all the major crises: North Korea, Iran and Israel. On all three, it sees things differently from the White House and clashes over democratic issues risk making Russia more recalcitrant on the world stage, diplomats say.
It has been Putin's policy to bring glory back to Russia, as they had during their Soviet days. He is succeeding immensely. What does this mean for the United States? It means that not much will happen now in the future without Russian involvement, unless America goes unilateral as they did in Iraq.

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