The world witnessed a tragedy on the 17th of July 2014, as Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), an international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Donetsk, Ukraine, allegedly shot down by a Buk surface-to-air-missile. There has been strong but circumstantial evidence to the involvement of Russia through their support of Ukrainian separatists. Central to the unfolding crisis has been the leadership style of Mr. Vladimir Putin.
Global Reaction and Implications.
There is definite correlation between global economic ramifications for Russia and the downing of MH17. Prior to the plane crash, President Barack Obama’s administration instituted a package of targeted sanctions aimed at isolating Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the international community, limiting its expansionist agenda into Crimea. Economic pressure on Russia has been evident, from the canceling of the G8 economic summit meeting in Sochi to Executive Order 13660 of March 6th, 2014 by President Barack Obama, which aims at blocking access to international property by certain persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine. Further sanctions were recently instituted by the USA, leading to President Obama to declare that the Russian economy had stalled. Prior to the plane crash, it had been unlikely that the European Union, and Germany in particular, would have be too eager to levy further economic sanctions on Russia, with resultant drop in trade. This would have caused mutually assured deceleration of economic growth, however, the world has been united in the condemnation of President Putin for his indirect contribution to the MH17 tragedy by support of the rebel forces in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.
Mr. Putin had an opportunity at deescalating the crisis in Eastern Ukraine, but he has held firm, failing to acknowledge the role of neither the pro-Russian rebels nor Russia as a sponsor of the rebels. On the contrary, he has blamed Ukraine, and the West in an ill-scripted response, and yet, maintained an air of political legitimacy in Moscow.
Putin: ‘The’ Man, ‘The’ Leader.
Mr. Putin has a carefully and sometimes comically crafted outward persona of bravado, self-aggrandizement, and depicts himself as an ‘all-action’ leader with interests in Judo, bare-chested horseback riding, and underwater scuba diving. He portrays himself as ‘great man’ with an array of innate traits that substantiate his claim to leadership. With a Russian media controlled by the Kremlin, dissenting views of this persona have been few and far between.
An analysis of Putin’s leadership style can be performed from two main points of view, namely, within Russia, and from the West. In Russia, Mr. Putin is increasingly identified as a hero, largely due to the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery misinforming the Russian population and his populist anti-American sentiments. From a western viewpoint, he is a strongman, cold and calculating, with some scholars going so far as to draw comparison with Adolf Hitler and his annexation of Austria. He continues to prey on the Russian people collective memory of the greatness of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Leadership styles revisited.
Autocratic leadership is making a 21st century comeback with Mr. Putin in a guised democracy. His authoritarian rule with revisionist history has been on full display. MH17 Crash exposes Mr. Putin as a megalomaniac with little regard for international censure. Perhaps Mr. Putin’s reaction is simply an exhibition of non-traditional transformational leadership. It can be argued that Mr. Putin’s reaction to a situation he could not have predicted (the plane crash) has shown his strategic leadership for the long game. He realizes the EU economic interconnectivity prevents Europe levying truly crippling economic sanctions.
Vladimir Putin is defined by multiple leadership…