The world should have listened in 2008 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he said Russia’s President-dictator Vladimir Putin is America’s worst geopolitical enemy.
Circa 2014: Putin, 61 years and ruler of Russia for 15 years, is about to pester Ukraine, a sovereign state of 46 million and likely annex Crimea first (a Ukraine domain) via a referendum for the citizens to join Russia. The West, led by the United State Britain and Germany had called the annexation as “illegal and constitutional”.
All vowed to punish Russia. But will the Big Bear Russian blink an eye, a leader-dictator of one of the world’s largest oil reserved nations on earth and with the second biggest military budget in the world? And with one of the planet’s most massive nuclear warfare capabilities?
Russia knows it supplies half of the gas needs of Europe, mainly passing through Ukraine’s massive gas lines-and hopeful that the world would think that it cannot afford to mess with Russia. On the other hand, Putin may be tough as a pier stevedore and vulgar as a burlesque queen, but he is not stupid.
Vladimir, a Stalingrad-born ex-KGB (Russia’s equivalent to the CIA) Lt-colonel and a man who fancies himself as a “super-hero” - knows what a Kryptonite is when he sees one. He will try to rewrite history but he will not die trying.
Putin wants to bring back the glory days of the old USSR and wants to take back into Russia’s influence half of the new created states out of the dismembered USSR (he started with Georgia and now Ukraine ) - though he has ceded the other half to be pro-West and closer to Europe.
Often portrayed as madly obsessed with power, Putin often publicly shows his half naked body with his barrel -hair -infested chest and protruding biceps and him swimming across the vast ocean-to give him the image as the macho “New Liberator” of the old USSR from the West.
Putin can afford his arrogance. Through ruthless corruption amid a sea of oil wealth, he is loved,nonetheless, by the Russians for his liberal tax policies, the prosperity he accorded his motherland and a booming GDP that attracted large foreign investors including the auto industry.
He has closed media and killed opponents, wallows in a luxurious lifestyle that people exclaim “ A New Tsar is Born”, an accolade that warms the heart of this man whose ego is a big as its country’s oil reserves of 80 billion barrels.
Its military might is awesome. With a population of only 145 million, he has 2.4 million in military reservists with 766,000 in active duty. On top of that are 15,500 tanks, 28,000 armored vehicles, 4,082 war planes and 252 navy ships including nuclear powered submarines.
Pitted against Ukraine with 46 million people, the latter is nothing but a pesky table fly, ready for the swatting by Russia.
But the world is worried that Ukraine is a just a first step in Russia’s plan to take over other sovereign nations (nearby) in the guise of protecting Russians inside these states. USA’s Hillary Clinton likens Putin to Germany’s Adolf Hitler who made the same excuse in igniting World War II in Europe.
The West is silently nervous- but not making a stand today could mean Russia will walk over other nations in the near future with the ambitious Putin set for reelection -that could make him Russia’s ruler until 2024- 10 more years.
Asset freeze and travel ban vs Russia are currently being wagered. It is a good thing that, alongside USA, powerhouse China (PM Xi Jinping), England (PM David Cameron), Germany’s Angela Merkel and Turkey had publicly blasted Russia’s expansionist policy.
Cameron said he was willing to sacrifice the City of London (financial and oil ties with Russia) just for Britain to “stand up to aggression” even as four European nations called on the USA to be ready to supply then with their fracking-derived liquid natural gas once Russia’s case worsens into an oil embargo.
But can Russia really afford to lose half of its oil revenues by fighting Europe? We think not.
He would probably settle for an annexed Crimea through a democratic referendum and leave the rest of Ukraine alone even as it accused the latter of illegally deposing a pro-Russian president months ago. A Ukraine election is soon scheduled with former heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, a front-running candidate.
But if Putin ups the ante and takes the whole Ukraine into his pocket, that would be another matter. That could invite a world-wide conflict, the consequences of which would be hard to imagine except to liken it to World War III.
Unconfirmed reports there say tha the Madonna and Mother Mary’s icons in Russia and Ukraine are currently weeping blood. A meditationist group in the Philippines, on the other hand, locked themselves up one weekend (recently) to stave a catastrophic month of March of which the Russian Gambit is the most visible cause. How true are these?
An egocentric, slightly paranoid leader with a nuclear arsenal like Putin is hard to provoke into suicidal tendencies -which would make the Russian hothead take the world down with him in a global annihilation via nuclear warheads.
The global super powers -Obama (USA) and Putin (Russia) have become personal mortal enemies through the years. Obama had lately canceled a meeting with Putin for “lack of substantive agenda” but he was really sulking from Kremlin’s harboring of an international fugitive from justice in IT man W. Snowden.
The battle may look personal between Barrack and Vladimir (we have no doubt Putin will knock out Obama in a boxing match) but the stakes here are global and the consequences are catastrophic to the max.
Is Armageddon in the making? Pray to our God(s), it has not come yet. Shalom!