Believe the bluster

American officials have repeatedly explained that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has been more conciliatory in private meetings than in public statements.

Carlos Pascual, a longtime former U.S. official and expert on Russia, said the White House has been mistaken to take Putin’s private assurances at face value. He said the friendly face Putin presents behind closed doors is a case of “managing his client,” a talent acquired during his years as a KGB officer.

“Believe the bluster and don’t believe what’s said in private,” said Pascual, who served as ambassador to Ukraine under Bush and headed Russian affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. “We have it backwards.”

The LA Times provides a good analysis of President Putin’s show of support yesterday for the rogue President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Putin is “the first leader of a world power to visit Iran during Ahmadinejad’s presidency.” The visit was of considerable symbolic importance to Ahmadinejad:

“His popularity at home has taken a serious fall …,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Israel-based Iran expert. “Ahmadinejad and other pro-nuclear program people in Iran can [now] claim that [the nuclear] issue is putting Iran on the map as a serious regional player.”



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