For Russia’s Putin, knockabout with Obama is just the ticket

When John F. Kennedy became President of the united States, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev seemed to relish at taunting the young president.  Now Vladimir Putin takes up the task of annoying Barack Obama it seems….

Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev

MOSCOW (AFP) – Still Russia‘s dominant politician, Vladimir Putin can only relish the prospect of a new bout of Russian-US rivalry with American leader-in-waiting Barack Obama, say analysts.

While much of the world celebrated Obama’s US presidential win, a stony-faced Russian reaction was a reminder of Cold War-style tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Still Russia's dominant politician, Vladimir Putin, pictured ...
The snake in the wood pile has little fear of the wood shed….
Still Russia’s dominant politician, Vladimir Putin, pictured in September 2008, can only relish the prospect of a new bout of Russian-US rivalry with American leader-in-waiting Barack Obama, say analysts.(AFP/Pool/File/Alexey Druzhinin

On the Internet, Russian bloggers portrayed the victory of a black candidate as evidence of American decline. On an official level, President Dmitry Medvedev chose the day of Obama’s win to announce the deployment of short-range missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost in Europe.

Numerous analysts said Medvedev’s response was clearly authored by Putin, no longer president himself but powerful in the prime minister’s post and long the spearhead of Russian attacks on the United States.

“Putin is of course number one in this tandem,” said Yevgeny Volk, head of the Moscow office of the US Heritage Foundation, a research centre.

The announcement of missile deployments to Kaliningrad is meant “to test Obama — whether he really is a strong and efficient leader,” said Volk.

Although he stood down as president in May in accordance with the constitution, Putin has kept a high profile.

He has released a judo training video, has “saved” a group of journalists from a loose Siberian tiger using a tranquilizer dart, and still meets world leaders such as Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi, whom he hosted this month in the Kremlin.

Analysts said Putin’s natural role was in baiting a United States cast by state media in the role of aggressor and that the 56-year-old could return to Russia’s presidency.

Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, who currently works at Washington’s Hudson Institute, said Putin was beset by economic worries in the prime minister’s post and wanted to “flee” for the safety of the presidency, a tsar-like role generally seen as beyond criticism.

Media speculation that Medvedev could step down to make way for Putin mounted this week when Medvedev said he wanted to extend presidential terms to six years.

Related:
“Testing” of Obama Has Already Begun

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081109/pl_afp/russiaus
diplomacyputin_081109233753

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