- - Sunday, October 30, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

L. Todd Wood (“How Putin played our ‘flexible president,” Web, Oct. 20) is correct in his assessment of Russia’s role in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and his assertion that “Mr. Putin is funding many fringe political groups in the U.S. and Europe.”

An alternative interpretation of Vladimir Putin’s 2012 decision to play the game he is playing is that President Obama was not being “flexible” then, and did not prove “flexible” enough after the 2012 election to suit Mr. Putin. A reading of articles in the Russian press such as the tabloid Soversheno Sekretno (“Top Secret”) suggests that the Russian leadership resented U.S. support of democratic opposition forces in Russia and decided to kick back.

Yes, Mr. Putin has no doubt been trying to play the current U.S. administration using his formidable skills and experience and those of the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB. It is clear that Mr. Putin will continue to try to play future U.S. administrations. The incoming U.S. president would do well to keep this in mind because Mr. Putin is a formidable player.

Mr. Wood asserts that Mr. Putin “is “looking way down the line, towards the day when he steps down and Russia is once again a superpower, exporting food and hydrocarbons and deploying its military all over the world.” This would seem a tall order. Decollectivization and privatization of agriculture following the breakup of the Soviet Union has apparently improved agricultural performance in Russia. According to Russian sources, food exports have been growing, and when world oil prices recover the ruble will strengthen.

As for Russia’s “once again exporting hydrocarbons,” what does Mr. Wood think the bulk of Russia’s exports are today? Mr. Wood would do well to hire a competent research assistant to enhance his formidable understanding and articulation of Russia’s accomplishments and power in recent years.

JAMES A.M. ELLIOTT

Arlington

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