Vladimir Putin Too Busy Rearranging His Sock Drawer to Attend the G8

I have to admit, the old KGB hand Vladimir Putin sure plays hardball in matters of diplomacy. Normally when you blow off a major summit (Putin will be sending Dmitri Mevedev in his place), you give more than a ten day’s notice.

Vladimir Putin will miss a planned visit to the US this month for a key global summit and a much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama, the Kremlin has confirmed, as the Russian president faced pressure from protests and opposition criticism at home.

The White House announced on Wednesday that Putin was unable to join the other leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations meeting outside Washington on 18-19 May. The Kremlin said Putin needed to finish work setting up his government.

I guess Vlad didn’t know what a mess his sock drawer was in when the US used him as an excuse to move the G8 away from protestors in Chicago to Camp David.

Russian opposition to U.S. and NATO plans for a missile defense shield in Europe was the subtext of a surprise announcement earlier this spring of a change in venue for the G-8 meeting. The summit was long planned to take place adjacent to a larger summit of NATO leaders in Chicago.

Putin let it be known that he did not want to attend the NATO summit, as Russian leaders sometimes do by invitation, or engage NATO leaders on the missile issue, U.S. and other diplomats said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy. The missile defense plan is on the NATO agenda for Chicago, although most of the summit discussions are likely to center on Afghanistan.

The switch to Camp David was partly an attempt by the U.S. to appear welcoming to Putin, so that he could meet quietly with European and other large powers at the dawn of his presidency without the awkward juxtaposition with NATO and the missile shield issue, the diplomats said.

Though a desire to appease Putin was, just like Putin’s excuse about naming a cabinet, just a convenient excuse.

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