Vladimir Putins week of muscle-flexing

Publish Date : 2021-04-04


Vladimir Putins week of muscle-flexing

And this week, he's been particularly busy, making decisions on internal and international matters that have ramifications far beyond Russia's borders.

Here's a look back at the Russian President's busy week -- and why the moves matter.

SUNDAY: Put NGOs on notice



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What he did:

Nongovernmental organizations in Russia awoke Sunday to a new reality -- that they operate now under a law Putin signed allowing the government to prosecute them on the grounds they are 'undesirable.' Russians working for them could wander behind bars for up to six years.

Why it matters:

The U.S. State Department and human rights guardians see the law as a tool to repress internal political opponents. In the past, a few of them -- and critical journalists -- have ended up dead or in jail.

Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director for Human Rights Watch, said the new law had 'the potential to severely damage our work in Russia.'

But she was more concerned about Russian citizens, fearing that even those retweeting 'undesirable' NGOs posts could land in jail.

MONDAY: Announced surprise military drills

What he did:

Moscow deployed 12,000 troops, 250 combat planes and helicopters and 689 units of 'various weapons and military equipment' in its northwest corner for unannounced military exercises, Russian state media announced Monday.

It may have been a show of strength in response to a long-planned European fighter jet drill led by Norway, called the Arctic Challenge Exercise. The Russian exercises have dwarfed the NATO members' 4,000 participants.

And it involves cruise missiles aimed at an 'imaginary enemy,' the TASS news agency reported.

Why it matters:

Huge Russian drills make NATO particularly nervous. The alliance says past ones were used to deploy troops to annex Crimea and support Russian separatists fighting the government in Ukraine.

NATO also did not like that the Russian drill was unannounced.

WEDNESDAY: Drew harsh words from White House

What he did:

On Wednesday, he incurred the wrath of the White House. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden got his fill of tensions between Russia and the West, and he let loose on Putin. He said the White House is still mulling sending arms and equipment to besieged Ukrainian troops fighting Russia-backed rebels.

Biden criticized Putin for what he called 'brutal aggression' in Ukraine, and said the Russian president was also responsible for 'aggressive repression at home.'

Why it matters:

Top military brass, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, have expressed support for transferring more weapons to Ukraine as it battles Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

President Barack Obama, faced with skepticism from European partners, has so far resisted supplying Ukrainians with lethal aid.

THURSDAY: Spoke out against FIFA case

What he did:

Putin told the United States to butt out of FIFA's affairs. Swiss authorities arrested high-ups from the world's soccer governing body -- on corruption charges brought by the FBI -- just days before its head, Sepp Blatter, stood for re-election.

'The USA definitely (has) nothing to do with this,' the Russian President said of FIFA, which is based in Switzerland. 'This is yet another obvious attempt to spread their jurisdiction to other (countries).'

Why it matters: FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup, a coveted event to host, to Russia. It is to be one of Putin's crowning moments in his second term as President.

There was a lot of pressure on Blatter to prevent the cup from going to Russia, and Putin suggested it's one reason U.S. authorities went after FIFA.

Opinion: Yes, Putin, this IS America's business

Also THURSDAY: Declared military deaths secret

What he did:

For years, the tally of Russian troops who died at war has been a state secret. Now, Putin says his government won't reveal the number of military deaths during peacetime either -- particularly during special operations.

Why it matters:

'Not only is this decree a blatant attack on freedom of expression, it also has sinister undertones that will intensify speculation President Putin has something to hide,' said Amnesty International director John Dalhuisen.

A Kremlin spokesman denied any connection to Ukraine, saying it's just to protect national interests in general.

What he did: It may have been a show of strength in response to a long-planned European fighter jet drill led by Norway, called the Arctic Challenge Exercise. The Russian exercises have dwarfed the NATO members' 4,000 participants. Opinion: Yes, Putin, this IS America's business 'Not only is this decree a blatant attack on freedom of expression, it also has sinister undertones that will intensify speculation President Putin has something to hide,' said Amnesty International director John Dalhuisen. NATO also did not like that the Russian drill was unannounced. Here's a look back at the Russian President's busy week -- and why the moves matter. For years, the tally of Russian troops who died at war has been a state secret. Now, Putin says his government won't reveal the number of military deaths during peacetime either -- particularly during special operations.

#newsupdatenow



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