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The Daily Vertical: Meet The New Tsar, Same As The Old Tsar (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

As we were all busy parsing the fine print of Vladimir Putin's re-coronation, there was a little bit of action on Russia's periphery.

As Putin was insisting he doesn't want a new arms race and would "spare no effort to settle all disputes with our partners by political and diplomatic means," his military was busy intimidating Russia's neighbors.

It's probably no coincidence that Russia's armed forces yesterday launched large-scale exercises in the Southern Military District, including in occupied Crimea, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.

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Russia's media is reporting that the drills include approximately 8,000 troops as well as multiple rocket launchers and artillery systems.

Now, it's always a good idea to pay closer attention to what Russia is doing than to what it's saying.

And it appears that one Putin's first acts after securing a new term in the Kremlin was to send an unmistakably belligerent message to the Georgians and the Ukrainians.

As Russia was busy intimidating its neighbors, Margarita Simonyan, the editor in chief of the state-funded RT television network, sent a pretty clear message to the West as well.

"We don't want to live like you" and "we don't respect you anymore," she tweeted.

And so the early signals are crystal-clear.

As the Russian emigre political commentator Leonid Bershidsky wrote yesterday in Bloomberg, "the West must brace itself for an extended period with a tough, wily, hostile, uncompromising Russia. It would take a miracle to set the country on a different course."

So Putin's fourth term is probably going to look a lot like his third term.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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