No more rose-scented subtleties from Russia's President: The United States is a threat. Period.
If we had to guess, Putin's New Year's resolution (or maybe his New Year's "wish", which, in Russia, involves 1. Writing down what you desire on a small piece of paper 2. Burning said piece of paper 3. Placing the ashes of aforementioned burnt wish into a glass of champagne 4. Drinking glass of ash-filled champagne. 5. Profiting?) is to "keep it real". (Not in the Dave Chappelle way.)
In 2016, don't expect "our Western partners" or "our American friends" coming out of Putin's mouth too often. We subscribe to the popular trope "Russia doesn't speak, it acts" - but sometimes it does speak, and we believe 2016 will be a year of more pointed, blunt rhetoric coming from the Kremlin.
Take, for example, the new appraisal of Russia's national security challenges, signed by Putin on New Year's Eve:
A new appraisal names the United States as one of the threats to Russia's national security for the first time, a sign of how relations with the west have deteriorated in recent years.
The document, "About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation", was signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve.
The U.S. is not a major focus of the report (although Reuters makes it seem this way), but the fact that the United States and NATO were not even mentioned in the previous version of the document, ratified in 2009, is definitely noteworthy. Maybe even a sign of the times?
Or just look at how Putin "talks Turkey". In his annual "end-of-year" presser, which was attended by nearly a thousand journalists, Putin answered a question about why Turkey shot down a Russian jet with the following remark:
"If anyone in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in a certain place -- I don't know if they acted correctly or not -- I don't know whether the Americans need that."
In a classic hit piece on the incident ("What Putin's presidential potty mouth is all about"), CNN tells us that Putin's words were met with "laughs, and even applause from some of the Russian reporters" while "foreign journalists looked stunned." Our suggestion to foreign journalists: Prepare your frail ears for more.
We are not suggesting that Putin has ever been shy about telling it like it is. But expect a whole lot more of straight talk in 2016.
Russia is parting, once again, with illusions. In our book, that's a fine New Year's resolution.
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