Russian President Vladimir Putin is in trouble with the international community because of his imperial ambitions in the Ukraine and other places, highlighted by the recent shoot down of a Malaysian jetliner by Russian supported Ukrainian separatists. But, according to a Friday story in the Washington Examiner, his popularity is soaring among Russians according to a recent Gallup Poll. Putin is seen as a decisive, strong leader, something Russians tend to appreciate.
The recent Olympic Games in Sochi, while criticized in the West for the stench of corruption that accompanied them, seems to have burnished Russian nationalist pride. Putin’s efforts to seize territory in the Ukraine has proven to be very popular. The Ukraine was controlled by Russia before the fall of the Soviet Union, dating back to the time of the Czars.
By contrast many see President Barack Obama as being a weak, indecisive leader, making a tepid response to the Malaysian airliner shoot down. This is despite the fact that Obama has imposed economic sanctions on Russia in response to Putin’s Ukraine adventures. Analysts suggest that Obama could do a lot more, including direct military support for the Ukraine, buttressing Eastern Europe by reviving regional missile defense, and encouraging oil production to bring down the price of petroleum products, reducing a revenue source for Russia.
In the meantime, the Daily Beast reports that Putin may be up to more mischief concerning a sought for nuclear deal with Iran. The Obama administration has been bending over backwards to try to entice Iran to give up its nuclear bomb program, even going so far as to extend a deadline for an agreement. Many believe that the Iranians are just playing for time so that they can become a nuclear power and threaten the Middle East, especially Israel. Putin may be prepared to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings, breaching economic sanctions against Iran.