– Putin, defiant toward West, likens Ukraine conflict to WWII (Los Angeles Times, Aug 29, 2014):
Evoking startling images of siege and empire, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday struck a defiant pose over the deployment of troops and tanks in eastern Ukraine, declaring that Russia has no plans for “large-scale conflicts” but reminding the world that he presides over a nuclear-armed state.
“It’s best not to mess with us,” Putin said, referring to Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine with a term that dates back to the era of the Russian empire — “New Russia militia” — and likening their battle with Ukrainian army forces to Soviet citizens’ heroic resistance during the German Nazi siege of Leningrad.
His comments, designed to cast the Ukraine conflict as a World War II-like aggression inspired by the West, came a day after President Obama warned of the mounting costs to Russians as their government deepens its involvement in eastern Ukraine.
The Obama administration’s new appeal to Russian public opinion probably reflects growing doubt that the U.S. can bring Putin to the negotiating table over Ukraine, as the Kremlin leader wages his own campaign designed to stoke Russians’ nationalist pride and nostalgia for its the lost superpower status.
“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” Putin said during a visit to a Kremlin-sponsored youth camp, clearly aiming to marshal public support for a military campaign that has brought international isolation and increasingly stringent economic sanctions.