14 November 2014
There’s the Vladimir Putin who patted President Barack Obama on the back, and who wrapped a shawl around the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping to protect her from the cold.
And then there’s the Putin who greeted his hosts at this weekend’s summit of global leaders in Brisbane by parking warships off the Australian coast. This after his air force announced bomber sorties as far as the Gulf of Mexico and Russian troops entered Ukraine, according to NATO.
With his updated brand of Cold War diplomacy, Putin kept himself in the spotlight at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing and probably will do the same at the Group of 20 meeting starting Nov. 15. The attention doesn’t change his Achilles heel: the Russian economy, hit by sanctions over Ukraine, falling oil prices and a tanking currency.
“Putin is still a class act, able to charm and intimidate by turns — but ultimately to keep others guessing about his intentions,” said Euan Somerled Graham, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “Yet it actually says more about Russia’s weaknesses than strength that the former KGB colonel has atavised into a czar.”
GPO / IDSS / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 14/11/2014