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Vladimir Putin is constantly at odds with the Western World among a whole spectrum of issues. From politics to the global economy to FIFA, Putin has consistently maintained a stance against the United States and the ever expanding West. These differences are so great that analysts are now claiming tensions between global powers are on par with that of the Cold War.
Among all of Russia’s current issues, Ukraine is the most dominant and controversial. The Ukraine and Crimea crisis began when portions of Ukraine became interested in integrating into Western Europe politically and economically. Putin, seeing this as a threat to his diminishing world dominance, appealed to the Southeast region of Ukraine. This region has cultural roots with Russia as opposed to the Central or Western regions, which is more closely tied with the West. This caused separatists parties within the Southeast region to sprout up and denounced western ties. Pro-Russian separatists began taking control of certain territories with Russian-backed weapons and training. Furthermore, Russia’s involvement in the crisis was allegedly the indirect cause for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to be shot down over Ukraine’s separatists region. There is radar proof that shows highly sophisticated missiles crossing into Ukraine from Russia prior to the incident.
In addition, evidence indicates missile systems crossing back into Russia with one fewer missile hours after the plane was shot down. Eventually, Russia absorbed Crimea in March of 2014 with a resounding 97 percent backing by the Crimea people. From the West’s perspective’s this was an extremely unacceptable annexation and was the result of corruption within the government. Since then, the conflict has now risen to a discussion among NATO of how to handle military interaction with Ukraine and its NATO neighbors. Putin’s annexation of Crimea has also led to the G7 to exclude Russia in meetings going forward. This was all a huge step in Russia and Putin’s isolation from the rest of the western modern world.
The global economy is another area in which Russia is causing riffs. The United States and European Union currently have economic sanctions against Russia in response to its interference in Ukraine. These sanctions, among other reasons, have caused Russia’s economy to fall into a fairly severe recession. According to Barrack Obama, “Russia is in deep recession. So Russia’s actions in Ukraine are hurting Russia and hurting the Russian people,”. The U.S. and E.U have also made it clear that continued aggression in Ukraine will only lead to further sanctions on the Russian economy. These sanctions will only begin to be lifted if Moscow takes the appropriate steps in regards to Ukraine. These steps include stopping cross-border support and using their influence over the separatists to implement a ceasefire.
FIFA is another issue in which Russia has separated itself from the Western World. Russia has not only thrown out allegations against the U.S., but is also under fire by U.S. and Swedish officials. Russia was picked for the 2018 World Cup location, which is one among the many controversies revolving around FIFA. Russia is being accused of bribery in its bid for 2018, and now risks losing the World Cup, especially with Sepp Blatter gone. In Putin’s eyes, this is just another way the U.S. is trying to, “spread its jurisdiction to other states”. Furthermore, Blatter’s resignation was seen as a significant step towards a legitimate and transparent FIFA. However, Putin, who favored Blatter, saw his resignation as a huge disappointment.
Putin is constantly at odds with the Western World, especially the U.S. While issues such as Ukraine and Crimea are at the forefront of Moscow’s stance, it can be seen that there a number of other issues causing tension among global powers. Whether Putin continues to pursue his own motives, and in an aggressive manner, is the large question at hand.
By James Flynn
The Washington Post: Survey: Western Europe Wary of Supporting Russia’s NATO Neighbors By Michael Birnbaum
Harvard Summer School: The Conflict in Ukraine: a Historical Perspective By Lauren McLaughlin
BBC: Ukraine Crisis: Timeline
Sputnik: G7 Discuss Anti-Russia Sanctions, Global Economy, Islamic State Threat
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty: Obama Accuses Putin of Wrecking Russia’s Economy for ‘Glory’
CNN: Malaysian Plane Shot Down in Ukraine: What Happened? By Tom Cohen
Photo Courtesy of Global Panorama Flickr’s Page Photo – Creative Commons License