Glug-glug-glug. There goes Vladimir Putin’s pipe dream for a Soviet-style revival down the drain — Malaysian Flight 17 saw to that.
The Russian president’s delusions of being the new Stalin began in February with his land-grab in the Crimean Peninsula, but they came crashing down last week when a surface-to-air missile blew the doomed passenger jet heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur out of the sky in a pro-Russian stronghold in eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people from 11 countries, including a dual U.S. citizen, in an epic calamity.
Putin says Kiev is at fault, but he has meddled in the Ukrainian separatist crises to a fault, calling the shots and supplying weapons to the rebels, stoking and accelerating an internal conflict to no good end.
The former KBG agent needs to stop passing the buck, make reparations for the blood on his hands, stay on his own soil, and lead Russia away from oppression and tyranny.
Just a few months ago, Putin was like a czar on speed. He proudly burnished his image as a badass who cuddled leopards. He stole President Obama’s thunder by supposedly reasoning Syria into a chemical weapons truce. He persuaded the International Olympic Committee that Russia’s “openness and friendship” made it a natural host for the winter Olympics. He held the games in Sochi on the edge of a Caucasus combat zone, as if to show that Chechen Islamo-nuts didn’t faze him. And he thumbed his nose at international law, making an illegal ploy for Ukraine after the last gold medal was cast, cashing in on the recent collapse of President Viktor Yanukovych’s government.
Within days, Russian forces seized municipal buildings, airports, communications hubs, and other vital infrastructure, while Putin claimed that he was just responding to an armed threat from Kiev against a government building in Crimea.
Russia’s goose is cooked. It has never recovered from the flop of its Soviet empire or been able to reclaim its sunken reputation as a world leader. Post-Soviet Russia has one of the highest levels of wealth inequality in the world, with 110 oligarchs controlling a third of its riches. Its promotion of a prosperous and democratic society is a joke. And its noose around the neck of freedom is as tight as ever. Now its interference in the affairs of a sovereign state trying to rise from Soviet-era ashes may have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, making Russia’s loss of face worse than ever. The turn of events is absolutely catastrophic, leaving families and friends of Flight 17 victims wrestling with a heartbreaking question: would their loved ones be alive today if Russia had minded its own business and kept out of Ukraine?
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