Vladimir Putin: International Man of Mystery

John M.

Staff Writer

The Ukraine Crisis and the Annexation of the Crimea by Russia were predominately in the news in 2014. This led to Western sanctions against Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Putin’s life in Russia is a mystery to some people in the West. His actions in Russia and Eastern Europe have created international news, and Putin, who has shown he does have the force to take over another country, has said he will use action against the West if needed. Who is Vladimir Putin, and what are his intentions in Russia and Eastern Europe?

Vladimir Putin was born on October 7, 1952, in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was born in the Soviet Union during the Cold War when Russia and Eastern Europe were controlled by the Communist Party. Putin graduated from college in St. Petersburg in 1975, and after graduation, he joined the Soviet Secret Police, or KGB. The KGB was known for its brutal tactics to uncover possible anti-Communists in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where the Soviet Armies were stationed. Putin was stationed in East Germany until he resigned in 1991 due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin entered the politics of the new Russian Federation under President Boris Yeltsin, and in 1999 he was appointed Prime Minister of Russia by Yeltsin. Yeltsin resigned later that year, allowing for Putin to become President of Russia. He served until 2008, when he served another term as Prime Minister, and in 2012 he was elected to the presidency again. Putin’s background with the Soviet Union might be one of the causes of the crisis in Eastern Europe.

Putin has made significant moves to restore Russian power in Eastern Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the Soviet Republics became independent states, but because of previous actions by Joseph Stalin to “Russianize” Eastern Europe, many ethnic Russians do not live in Putin JM Bthe Russian state. In 2005 Putin said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century which left tens of millions of Russians beyond the borders of Russia.” In February of 2014 words took to action as Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, which has a majority population of Russians. Later that year Putin attempted to invade the rest of Ukraine, and recently Putin sent troops to the border of Russia and Estonia, a small Baltic Republic. Dr. Krista Webb, AP World History and AP U.S. History teacher, said that “Putin is trying to show he is mightier than the West. I liken it to Hitler in the Rhineland trying to see how far he can go.” Many critics of Putin have compared his actions in Eastern Europe to Hitler’s actions in the 1930s. In 1938 Hitler invaded Austria, an ethnic German nation, and he invaded parts of Czechoslovakia that were ethnically German before invading the rest of Czechoslovakia and Poland, sparking World War II. If Putin is trying to rebuild a Russian empire, than how come no one has taken any action to stop him?

Despite the fierce actions of Putin, no military action has been taken to stop his armies in Eastern Europe, although economic sanctions have been established. In 2014 the U.S. froze the assets of Russian millionaires that are related to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Many sources believe the sanctions are working, and recently the Russian Ruble, their currency, has declined in value. Despite these sanctions, the Russian people, for the most part, like Putin; according to a survey in 2014, around 80% of Russians approve of Vladimir Putin and his government. However, many critics believe more should be done to stop Russia’s advancements in Eastern Europe. Dr. Webb said, “I think if action is taken, it needs to be NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and not the U.S. alone.” However, if action is taken, Russia will take all the steps needed to secure their claimed lands. Most recently Putin said that he would have used Russia’s nuclear weapons if the West intervened militarily in the Crimean Peninsula. Many people say this can prevent U.S. intervention if Russia is willing to use its nuclear weapons. If this is the case, then it might be better for everyone if the U.S. did nothing militarily, in order to prevent a nuclear war.

Vladimir Putin has had a heavy influence in world politics since the late 1990s and has used military action to take lands he believed to be ethnically Russian. He has also threatened the Western powers with nuclear action if intervention is to happen. As Putin continues to look for new lands to add to the Russian state, the U.S. must be hopeful that Putin’s threats are just words and do not result in a World War III nuclear destruction.

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