Sunday, September 27, 2015

Softening His Image

As Putin prepares to go to the United Nations to speak--perhaps he'll reassure Europe that he has no more territorial ambitions, or something--he decided to take a step to improve his reputation. Has he?

After being imprisoned for more than a year, the Estonian security officer kidnapped by the Russians from Estonian soil is back home:

Estonian security officer Eston Kohver, imprisoned by Moscow on espionage charges, is back home after being exchanged for jailed Russian spy Aleksei Dressen. ...

Kohver’s defense lawyer, Mark Feigin, said that the swap was “organized on the political level” and was timed to improve Putin’s image before his appearance at the UN.

In what alternate world is someone's reputation improved by highlighting that you are in fact a hostage-taker? Is this what Putin really wants to advertise?

This doesn't reach the levels of idiocy that Saddam Hussein attempted in 1990 when he patted terrified children on their heads to show that despite his conquest of Kuwait he was a really nice guy.

But it does surpass Russia's claim that Poland shoulders a good chunk of responsibility for starting World War II in Europe:

In an interview aired by private broadcaster TVN24 on Friday evening, Russian ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreyev said Poland was partly responsible for Nazi Germany invading in 1939 because it had repeatedly blocked the formation of a coalition against Berlin in the run-up to the conflict.

Andreyev also said Polish-Russian relations were currently at their worst since 1945 because Poland had chosen to freeze political and cultural contacts.

"The Russian ambassador will be summoned to the foreign ministry on Monday so that this issue is clarified to him by a foreign ministry representative" Schetyna told reporters.


It is good that Kohver is freed. It doesn't erase the fact that the Russians kidnapped him and held him hostage.

UPDATE: I think Putin owes me a keyboard and video screen:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday branded U.S. support for rebel forces in Syria as illegal and ineffective, saying U.S.-trained rebels were leaving to join Islamic State with weapons supplied by Washington.

Because I spewed a lot of coffee all over those items when I read that.

That illegality part is rich given his adventures in Ukraine right now.

Although I'll grant him a point on the effectiveness issue.