(Washington, D.C.) — In October, Forbes magazine named Russian President Vladimir Putin “the world’s most powerful person.”
Now, with the Olympics in Sochi underway, the eyes of the world are riveted on Russia and its leader, who have invested a record $51 billion in creating what they hope will prove a dazzling showcase to reassert Russian power and influence.
Putin is determined to use a string of missteps by President Obama — hesitation and vacillation in the Syria crisis, the Benghazi scandal, health care rollout fiasco, sky-high budget deficits, and Mr. Obama’s sinking poll numbers, to name a few — to reposition Russia as a major world leader in hopes of eventually eclipsing American power.
“I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open,” Putin declared to a worldwide TV and Internet audience on Friday.
A Russian news service said Putin was “raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and has become the crowning moment of his third term as president,” adding that “in front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russia’s rich musical and literary heritage, with a few nods to its Soviet past.
“Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history — these are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, as he called on athletes “to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”
Amidst these themes of global peace and harmony, however, Putin is simultaneously working hard to build closer ties with Iran, the world’s most Radical Islamic terrorist regime.
“Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions that helped persuade Tehran in November to agree to a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program,” Reuters recently reported. “Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal under which Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.”
“Good progress is being made at the moment with strong chances of success,” said a Russian source. “We are discussing the details, and the date of signing a deal depends on those details.” The Kremlin declined comment.
Other signs of intensifying Russian-Iranian ties in recent years:
- RUSSIA, IRAN, SYRIA, CHINA TO HOLD MASSIVE WAR GAME: Echoes of Bible prophecy?
- Russia, Iran sign agreements to form “strategic partnership” as Russia sends warships to Iranian port.
- Putin meets with Ahmadinejad to strengthen Russian-Iranian alliance amidst Mideast drama.
- Putin, Rouhani to meet in Kyrgyzstan
Iran, meanwhile, is:
- sending warships to patrol near U.S. shores.
- continuing to play a powerful and aggressive role in Syria’s civil war
- continuing to enrich uranium and moving towards building nuclear weapons
Putin is also using the Olympics to strengthen ties with other world leaders.
The Los Angeles Times reported that “Putin used the hours before the lavish opening ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games to hold court with world leaders who did attend and project an image of the globally influential chief of a resurgent Russia. Upon arrival in Sochi, where Western journalists have focused on fears of a terrorism attack and discomforts in the hastily constructed hotels and venues, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Putin on his staging of the prestigious competition as evidence that ‘Russia is heading toward strength and prosperity.’ Xi also hailed Russian-Chinese cooperation on Syria and Iran – two foreign policy challenges that have pitted the once-rivalrous eastern giants against the three Western countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, preventing the American, British and French faction from securing sanctions on Damascus or Tehran…..Putin also received Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose crackdown on political opponents and public protest over the last year have alienated Turkey from its traditional allies in Europe and Washington. Putin seemed eager to cast Russia as an alternative diplomatic partner more respectful of Ankara’s right to decide its own domestic affairs.”
As I noted in December, “Vladmir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful….Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous.”
MORE RUSSIA AND IRAN HEADLINES:
- For Putin, it’s personal: Sochi Olympics symbolize a comeback for Russia — and it’s middle-aged leader
- Putin Is Pulling All The Strings – And Obama Is Letting Him
- Putin on charm offensive ahead of Winter Games
- Khamenei: US has ‘controlling, meddlesome’ attitude toward Iran