by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [H]is biggest asset hasn’t been his iron grip on Russian politics, it’s been the fecklessness and passivity of his Western counterparts in the face of his outrageous actions. Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who has lived in exile in the West since 2013, wrote on Facebook that Putin, like most dictators, prefers playing poker to chess. “You can win at poker with a weak hand if your opponents play foolishly and keep folding their cards.”
It was to plan a better series of future moves against Putin that Kasparov and Thor Halvorssen, the leaders of the Human Rights Foundation, assembled a collection of 30 anti-Putin experts in New York last Friday. Called PutinCon, the event featured everyone from former intelligence officials to a former Red Army veteran to former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara to Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption crusader who was blocked from the presidential ballot in Sunday’s presidential election in Russia.
All of them agreed that the West should confront Putin and take serious measures to counter his increasingly brazen behavior. According to British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, this behavior now includes the stockpiling of the deadly nerve agent Novichok, recently used against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy granted asylum in Britain, and his daughter Yulia.