Putin: During and After Sochi

If there is any human rights activist in Russia whose work is likely to have some sympathy from the Russian public, it may well be Khabarov. Police corruption is one aspect of the current system that the average Russian citizen encounters on an everyday basis—to a point where it can be hard to distinguish police officials from the crooks they’re supposed to be pursuing.

.. I speak of the Circassians, the local ethnic minority that tried to use the Games to draw attention to the historical injustices committed against them by the tsarist empire in the mid-nineteenth century (and largely ignored by the world). After fighting a long war of resistance against advancing Russian troops, the last Circassian fighters finally surrendered at Krasnaya Polyana (which also served as the venue for alpine sports during the Winter Olympics) exactly 150 years before the opening of the games. Most of those who had survived the Russians’ scorched-earth counterinsurgency tactics were then deported to the Ottoman Empire under profoundly inhumane conditions. Some scholars estimate the number of Circassian deaths between 1860 and 1864 at around 1.5 million. Some have referred to it as the first modern genocide.

NATO expansion: America not in retreat

By 1997, it was clear Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would enter the alliance. In 2004, NATO admitted another seven former Soviet bloc countries, three of which—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—had been part of the USSR. In 2009, Croatia and Albania joined the club. Six former Soviet republics—Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—now link their militaries to NATO’s via the “Partnership for Peace” program. All five former Soviet republics in Central Asia—Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan—provide NATO countries with some basing, transit, refueling, or overflight rights for use in the Afghan war.

From Putin’s perspective, in other words, the United States hardly looks in retreat. To the contrary, the post-Cold War period has brought one long march by America and its allies closer and closer to the border of Russia itself.

.. On matters of foreign policy and what he would call “national greatness,” he is still unduly influenced by them, despite the fact that, more than any other actors in American life, they’ve destroyed the trust in leadership that Brooks himself values.