Man of the whatever. Putin is topping a lot of year-end lists these days and I find it amusing. First because he isn’t doing or saying anything new but also because of the “Occido-centric” take. Three things are usually mentioned as where Putin is said to have got the better of Obama: Snowden, Syria and Ukraine. Well, Snowden just arrived and it’s not clear that it was an extraditable offence; we should all thank Putin for stopping another military adventure founded on another piece of questionable evidence; Ukraine was neither the West’s to gain nor his to keep. But, evidently, the West is still locked in a zero-sum (dare we say “Cold War”?) fixation. More interesting, however, is the admiration that he is starting to attract from conservatives. It’s amusing to watch. But, as I said, he hasn’t changed; only the perceptions have.
Jihadism. Much activity lately in addition to the two suicide attacks in Volgograd. A group arrested in Tatarstan on suspicion of attacks on churches in Tatarstan. Several gunfights in the North Caucasus. Bombs in Pyatigorsk and Dagestan. Three planning an attack killed in the Kabardin-Balkar Republic. Connected I suppose with the Sochi Olympics – among the “Lands of the Jihad”, much effort is put into getting publicity in order to raise money. My deduction would be that a direct attack on the Olympics is unlikely because it is a defended target: a train station – or, really, anything else – is much easier and gets the publicity.