Mark Collins – The Bear Skinned: Best Explanation of Putin’s Russian Riddle, Mystery, Enigma…

…I’ve seen for some time. One finds it, amazingly, in the sports section of the Globe and Mail:

Kelly: Russia returns to being the bad guys we remember
Cathal Kelly

After losing to Slovakia on Wednesday [June 15 at the Euro 2016 football tournament], thrombotic manager Leonid Slutsky was asked about a flare that had been set off in the Russian end during the game’s final moments.

“I didn’t see it,” Slutsky told reporters.

The flare was doing what flares do – flaming as brightly as the sun and billowing smoke. It would have been impossible to miss.

Since his Russian team is under threat of expulsion if its supporters cause any further disturbances inside Euro 2016 stadiums, Slutsky was then asked if he was worried about the consequences of the flare.

“I repeat, I didn’t see it,” Slutsky said.

It is an answer so cartoonish and false you feel the urge to stand up and applaud [remember the little green men in the Crimea?].

…Russia would like to be thought of as formidable. Like the Soviets, their current leadership wants very badly for the country to assert itself through sport.

One problem – they’re not good enough. Not at athletics, or soccer, or hockey. Russia isn’t the best in the world at anything that really matters any more.

What do you do when you can’t win? You change the game.

You express your strength in other, darker ways. You use cunning instead of talent. You send hooligans instead of players. When caught breaking the rules, you say, “What rules?”

Russia’s involved in a few ongoing wars. This is another one of them. A guerrilla public-relations campaign based theoretically in sport and being fought with the rest of the world [see also: “Bad Vlad’s Dezinformatsiya in Action in Europe“].

Russia doesn’t need championships to thrive at that. The Russians just need to be seen thumbing their nose at everyone else and getting away with it.

On that basis, their Euro is already a success.

Who needs experts–political scientists, think tankers, major-league pundits–when you’ve got a good sports writer?

That Russian “…riddle wrapped…”.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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