Parrying U.S. snub, Russia's Putin holds court with dignitaries
MOSCOW — Russian television viewers could be forgiven on Friday for failing to notice that the leaders of the United States and some of its political allies were absent from the hoopla in Sochi.
President Vladimir 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.
On arrival in Sochi, where Western journalists have focused on fears of a terrorist 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.
“China and Russia should from this day forward continue deepening our consultations and cooperation on major international issues and together maintain world and regional peace, security and stability,” Xi told his host in one of a half dozen mini-summits broadcast from Sochi.
Putin 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.
Rossiya-24 television showed leader after leader arriving on the new airport tarmac in the subtropical resort, with Russian officials greeting the likes of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Also on hand for the U.S.-snubbed festivities was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was to meet with Putin on Saturday to discuss the nearly 7-decade-old dispute between their countries over four islands on the Pacific Coast.
Costas' Putin piece ridiculed
NBC television personality Bob Costas' raised eyebrows with a Thursday night profile piece on Putin that critics said portrayed the leader as a peacemaker.
Costas credited Putin with “a deal to allow Syria to avoid a U.S. military strike by giving up its chemical weapons.”
In September, Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., said Russia was simply replacing the chemical weapons with conventional ones. “At the same, time plane loads of arms are flying into Damascus that are used to kill Syrians,” he said on CNN.
Putin also “helped bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear intentions.” But Russia, long allies with China, have long blocked international action on Iran through the United Nations, and the mild rapprochement followed the August ascension of the more moderate Hassan Rouhani to Iran's presidency.
He “showcased his confidence to take on the West” with a move to undercut a deal in which the Ukraine would have joined the United Nations. The action has fomented political turmoil in the nation that was formerly part of the Soviet Bloc.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Muti backs out of Rome theater commitment
- At least 40 Iraqi soldiers killed in Islamic State strike; dozens captured
- Hong Kong college students boycott classes in fight for democracy
- Ebola infections likely to shoot up in Sierra Leone, Liberia
- Jordan-based bank liable in suicide bombings that killed, injured Americans
- Ukraine to pull artillery in east as truce between government and rebels holds up
- Egyptian President al-Sisi feels vindicated in crackdown as Islamic extremists rise
- Turkish hostages freed from Islamic State, but questions linger
- Nominees for 2 Iraqi ministries rejected
- Nations urged to follow U.S. example on Ebola
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar