Regular readers may know that your humble correspondent is frequently in eastern Europe. I've developed a view of contemporary Russia which may be "non-standard," but it comes from experience. Vladimir Putin isn't a "protegé" of Josef Stalin; his model is Peter the Great. Putin can look at Russia's multitude of social problems and conclude that Russia is perishing. And his take is simple - Russia must re-aggrandize itself as the cure for those problems.
Because of this, the Russians are in a hurry - since they see themselves as being in a race against time. As an Obama Presidency began to appear likely last fall, I offered the guidepost that in terms of international problems, "Russia won't be the worst, but they'll be the first."
And indeed, it literally only took a few hours after the election results were in for Putin sock-puppet President Dmitri Medvedev to immediately issue a challenge, threatening to put nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave - as an "or else" with regard to the missile defense agreement with Poland (and the Czech Republic).
More recently, there has been this ongoing "gas crisis" which has threatened to freeze Europe solid in the middle of winter - and a rather harsh one at that.
Now, Russia has quietly announced plans to establish naval bases in Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
More below the fold.
There's a news item tucked quietly into the Monday (1/18) edition of The Moscow Times:
Naval Bases Planned for Libya, Syria
Russia has decided to establish naval bases in Libya, Syria and Yemen within a few years, a military official said Friday, in a sign of Moscow's growing foreign policy ambitions.
"It is difficult to say how much time it will take to create the bases for our fleet in these countries, but within a few years this will be done without question," the unidentified military official told Itar-Tass.
"The political decision on this question has been taken," the official said.
As noted above, the Russians are in a hurry. And clearly they regard political developments over here as a stroke of incredible good fortune. And they are obviously moving quickly to take advantage of that good fortune.
So I guess a good question for our incoming President on this one would be, "What do you intend to DO about this?"