Op-Ed: Putin shows his true colors — the hammer and sickle

Posted Mar 2, 2014 by Robert Weller
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who thinks the fall of communism was the worst event of the 20th century, couldn't wait for the Sochi games to end so the real war in Ukraine could begin.
A memorial in Hungary
A memorial in Hungary
Via Flickr
He did wait a couple more days to hand out the keys of the Mercedes cars awarded to each Russian Olympic medal winner.
No need to employ his arsenal of nuclear weapons when he had Cossacks to horsewhip Pussy Riot in Sochi and masked Night Wolves to send into Ukraine.
Still, Saturday’s Duma endorsement of sending troops in came as no surprise after his invasion and annexation of two parts of Georgia in 2008, and refusal to help overthrow pals Gaddafi and Assad.
Next he may reinstate the hammer and sickle as the flag, instead of the boring white, blue and red.
It is probably too cold in Moscow now or he would be leading parades in the street shirtless, showing the body he thinks resembles Jean-Claude Van Damme. In truth, President Obama, and even ousted Ukraine President Yanukovych tower over him.
And Putin, whose name has been spelled differently in French to avoid confusion with a nasty word, obviously believes there are no muscles in Brussels.
Now the test begins. Surprisingly it was in Moscow, where 1,500 protestors turned out. Not many, but in the old days none would have dared.
But are the US and European Union powerless to do anything?
History shows Russia was able send tanks into Hungary and Czechoslovakia with impunity.
The end result was an economy in tatters, in some cases a dozen people sharing an apartment. Lines for basic food items. Now Russians have a taste for the Western life.
Mussolini might be a better example of the folly of taking on the world, and at least he had Hitler to back him up. China is too busy trying to bring its people into the 21st century to get involved. Perhaps North Korea can help?
Putin may have thrown away the fruits of hard negotiations that led to admission to the G8 and World Trade Organization.
He may find himself the only person at the table for the next G8 meeting. Some Western nations have already said they will not attend.
Trade deals that were on the horizon will vanish. Russia had started its return to the world, making it likely the Russian people will be even less likely to fall for the Putin Empire.
While the early days of the Cold War are a dim memory, Afghanistan is not.
Can the Ukraine invasion hurt Putin; probably not. But by not buying the provocation, should Kiev decide to resist, it will now have the world's moral backing.
The Russian action was poor theater, no more believable than Hitler’s invasion of Poland after claiming he was attacked.
They call it a “provokatisya” - an action by the Russian secret service seeking to provoke a reaction from the country being invaded. Just like Hitler, Putin got tired of waiting for Kiev to bite.
Like Hitler, Putin has lived up to his words. Unlike Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” Putin’s words will not be ignored.
Dr. Jonathan Eyal, International Director of the security think-tank Royal United Services Institute, told the Express Putin was exercising the Sudetenland option.
Hitler annexed the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, claiming he was acting to protect the ethnic-German population.
The action in Ukraine is likely to stop in its tracks. The U.S. plans to reduce its military to the smallest size since before World War II.
The Kiev government has not reacted rashly. Perhaps they had read Napoleon: Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.