West’s failure to confront Putin on Olympics convinced him he could invade Ukraine without penalty, Titov says

A snowflake failed to transform into an Olympic ring at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games Olympics. (Image: Varlamov.ru)

A snowflake failed to transform into an Olympic ring at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games Olympics. (Image: Varlamov.ru)  

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Many trace the origins of Vladimir Putin’s conviction that the West will ultimately come to accept whatever he does arose not as many think from its reaction to his invasion of Georgia in 2008 but rather from the way it responded – or in fact, failed to respond – to his violations of norms at the time of the Sochi Olympiad, Yevgeny Titov says.

Titov, who covered the Winter Olympics there in 2014 for Novaya Gazeta, says Russia “constantly violated human rights” in the run-up to the competition in its drive to use that event for “imperial” purposes by “recalling Soviet achievements, returning to Russians a sense of being a great nation, and raising Russia’s authority in the international arena.”

“In short,” he says, “the Olympics marked the beginning of [Russia’s] getting off its knees.”

As is the case with “any imperial project, the fate of an individual or of a 100 people or even a 1,000 didn’t upset anyone. Bulldozers destroyed homes, magistrates kicked residents out, and bureaucrats under the wing of the state stole billions in their machinations concerning property,” Titov continues.

In this and many other ways, “the principles laid down in Olympic rules” were “violated in the crudest possible way.” Western journalists “sometimes” reported on these things, “but the reaction of the West was quite weak.” Its politicians “closed their eyes to the numerous violations” and thus “gave Putin complete freedom of action.”

“When environmental activist Yevgeny Vistishko was arrested (and then jailed), people demanded explanations but when they got them, they acted as if they believed” what Moscow was telling them because “no one wanted to spoil the party.” And that pattern, Russian action and Western action opened the way for Russia’s aggression in Crimea and the Donbas.

“The process begun by Putin in Sochi automatically crossed the Russian borders [because] an empire is a system, and a complex system never dies right away without making efforts to restore itself,” the Novaya Gazeta journalist says.

The West had an obligation to complain and make demands and to declare a boycott if Russia continued to violate the rules. “But instead they kindly and in a tolerant way forgave Putin.” He learned a lesson from that; it isn’t clear that the West has.


Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar MichaelA says:

    putin learned it from many other failures by the West to show a spine
    not just the Sochi olympics.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Good point. The West failed to stand up to Russia at many points.

      Thankfully things have been changing, especially in the last few months.

      It was especially encouraging to see the way that EU leaders came out with strong statements against the latest Russian aggression within a day of it starting. Also by people like John McCain in the USA.

      1. Avatar Greg says:

        Well until the USA deals with trump’s love in with Putin I expect the USA to do not much! Trump’s actions and messages are close to treason and I fully expect him to be impeached. The USA put an idiot into office and now they are starting to see the silliness of their decision. To be fair, Hillary was not much better. At least in a Parliamentary system we can elect a minority government to wake up the idiots.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          In fairness there have been some good statements from the US government lately. I hope there will be many more

          1. Avatar Greg says:

            true but unless there is action, words mean nothing, Russians are killing Ukrainians every day. tell those in the front lines that the USA has nice supportive words! I am sure they will feel very warm and happy!

  2. Avatar Alex George says:

    The seapratist leader Givi, who likes to bash prisoners, has been wounded. He admits that the four best fighters in his unit have been killed.

    Good shooting, Ukrainian army!

    1. Avatar Victor Victory says:

      Shame that they missed Givi’s head

  3. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    The main achievement of the Soviet Onion was killing millions of innocent people.

  4. Avatar Alex George says:

    Real Madrid Foundation is coming to Kyiv in April. Running leadership and development courses for 200 kids. Free places for kids from orphanages.

    Well done, Real Madrid. This will be the dream of a lifetime for some Ukrainian children.

  5. Avatar Dirk Smith says:

    Another reason for the 2018 World Cup to be relocated. This was a rotten corrupt deal https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cddf5de0a53ef887f827e87ca5ab36aeb9657a3f912de22106a195308419b7e5.jpg between two thieves, Putie and Blatter.

  6. Avatar Vol Ya says:

    Putin is destroying Russia: check out their rising poverty and disease rates and declining life expectancy. So what is putin’s response to those problems. It is to attack other countries and pay Russian trolls to spread lies and misinformation. Putin and Russia are doomed.

  7. Avatar Robert Drake says:

    What does one do with a country who measures its (“getting off its knees”) and its “manhood” by the murder of its friends if they reject the oligarchy, economic slavery, and corruption? So, Vladimir Vladimirovich… Respectability = Suki?