German Der Spiegel has an interesting article about why Vladimir Putin seems to "succeed at everything he does":
In September, he convinced Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. In doing so, he averted an American military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and made Obama look like an impotent global policeman.
In late July, Putin ignored American threats and granted temporary asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden, a move that stirred up tensions within the Western camp. The Germans and the French were also outraged over Washington's surveillance practices.
Since then, Putin has scored one coup after the next. In the fall, when meaningful progress was made in talks with Tehran over a curtailment of Iran's nuclear program, Putin once again played a key role.
And now, by exerting massive pressure on Viktor Yanukovych, he has persuaded the Ukrainian president to withdraw from an association agreement with the European Union that took years to prepare, just a few days before the scheduled signing at a summit of EU leaders. In doing so, he brought Ukraine back into Russia's sphere of influence, at least for now. --
"For Putin, all it took was 20 minutes with Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg to avert a bombing of Syria and to lay the groundwork for a solution to the Syrian chemical weapons problem," says a senior Russian diplomat.
According to an unpublished, 44-page report by the Institute for Strategic Studies, the Kremlin's most powerful think tank, to which SPIEGEL has gained access, Putin's authority is now "so extensive that he can even influence a vote on Syria in the US Congress." The report praises Putin as the "new world leader of the conservatives."
The report's authors write that the hour of conservatives has now come worldwide because "the ideological populism of the left" -- a reference to men like Obama and French President François Hollande -- "is dividing society."
Of course the Kremlin's "most powerful think tank" is completely wrong about Putin being a "world leader of the conservatives". Their man is nothing but a corrupted authoritarian in charge of a mafia state.
The fact that the former KGB man now "seems to be succeeding at everything he does" has nothing to do with conservatism. No, it is wholly a result of the fact that the US now has the probably weakest and most incompetent president ever. With a strong leader in charge in the US, Putin would never have been able assert himself. And the weakness of the other western "leaders", Hollande, Cameron and Merkel above all, is making it even easier for Putin to "succeed".