It's a week since the world was watching Putin's "new Russia" on display at the Winter Olympics. Ukrainians might say the new Russia looks a hell of a lot like that of old, and they'd be right.

So this is the new Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was telling the world about during the extravaganza that was the most recent, and most expensive winter olympics. 

The athletes and dignitaries have all be gone for a week - and apparently we all know how long a week is in politics.

It is now time for Russia to get on with the war games, having waited so patiently while the third Ukrainian revolution was up and running and stealing far to much of the oxygen  Putin had planned for Sochi only.

Putin the Snow Prince can only put up with ice dancing and the like for so long before he must put on (or in his case usually take off) his Putin the Strong vest.

Everyday Ukrainians, fed up with the corrupt, economy destroying, lavish living pro-Russian Yanukovych family, have provided Putin just the opportunity to flex a little military muscle.

If all goes according to plan, all of the Ukraine could soon be back within the sphere of influence of Mother Russia, its EU-Western leaning tendencies dispensed with.

So far the new Russia of harmony and peace showcased in olympic sports is looking a heck of a lot like the old Russia.

Putin it seems will forever be smarting from what he calls a geopolitical catastrophe - known to most of us as the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the ethnic Russian Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea there’s been a sudden influx of Russian military, securing all the strategic assets of the area - airports, government buildings and the like.

Crimeans raised the Russian flag over the local parliament in Simferopol on Thursday, and by Friday they had themselves a pro-Russian Prime Minister by the name of Sergiy Aksyonov who immediately called on Putin for protection.

As if part of a carefully written invasion script, Putin went to the Federation Council in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, and guess what? He was given, unanimously of course, the right to use armed Russian forces to “normalise” the situation in the Ukraine should he consider that necessary.

Apparently the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych poses a threat to the lives of the Russian citizens living in the Ukraine. Let us skip quickly past the threat Yanukovych posed to the Ukraine as a whole.

His overthrow also poses a threat to Russia’s naval fleet in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. Yanukovych recently extended until 2042 the Russian lease, but many Ukrainians consider the presence of the fleet to be too close for comfort.

Putin is adamant that his newly acquired green light for Russian troops to enter the Ukraine does not mean they will actually be deployed.

It would appear from all the live reports of the situation on the ground in the Crimea at least, that Putin is playing semantics.

Russian troops are already there - albeit with uniforms that have no overtly identifying insignia. Eye witness accounts note these troops speak Russian, carry sophisticated Russian weaponry and drive military vehicles with Russian plates. A pretty good indication, and enough for foreign governments to start sounding warnings of “costs” to pay should there be any invasion.

Just what “costs” remains unspecified.

The real question now is how many more Russian troops will be needed to meet this also, as yet unspecified, ‘threat’ which persuaded the Russian parliament in Putin’s favour.

Putin’s move comes after weeks of revolt in Kiev in particular, during which protesters were branded as terrorists - an old Kremlin favourite...think Chechnya and Georgia.

Now the interim government in Kiev is fretting and for good reason. 

Then there was the illusion of dialogue to end the bloodshed in the capital’s Maidan.

Now the niceties of Sochi are done, the ‘anti-terrorist’ operation builds momentum, and as the residents of Grozny know, such operations are horrific in scope and ruthlessness.

Of course if Putin does go screaming into the Ukraine and violates its sovereign integrity, it does make a rather large mockery of his stance concerning outside intervention in Syria, to name a bloodbath he could be doing a lot more to stem.

It would appear Putin is quite happy to answer the pleas of those who can be of use to him - the Crimean PM bearing the gift of an important strategic peninsula for example.

He’s not so obliging when those who suffer can be of no immediate benefit to him - lets say millions of Syrians vs Assad.

Putin won the medal count in Sochi. Now perhaps he is ready to squander that, albeit superficial diplomatic coup, and try to seize the Crimea at least?

If he does it is likely that Sochi II in the form of the June 2014 G8 Summit in that olympic city, will be a bit of a fizzer if some of the big names stay away. 

Of course there’s also the distinct possibility/probability that Putin couldn’t care less what Obama, Hague and others of their Western ilk think. They never turned up to his grand olympics anyway. 

Sochi may have required massive amounts of artificial snow for it to succeed but when Putin is in warmongering mode, the chill comes all too naturally.

Comments (1)

by Andrew Osborn on March 02, 2014
Andrew Osborn

On the nail!

I suspect that since Obama caved over Syria, Putin knows he can ride roughshod over whomever he pleases.



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