William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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PUTIN STRIKES BACK – AT 8:54 A.M. ET:  My, my, those Russkies are getting rude again.  They're into the old Cold War tactic of retaliation for any slights, real or imagined.  And this can have its effect.  From The New York Times:

MOSCOW – President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that he would sign into a law a ban on adoptions of Russian children by American citizens, retaliating against an American law that punishes Russians accused of violating human rights and dealing a potentially grave setback to bilateral relations.

Mr. Putin announced his decision at a meeting with senior government officials on Friday, including cabinet members and legislative leaders. The adoption ban, including in a broader law aimed at retaliating against the United States, was approved unanimously by the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr. Putin also said that he would sign a decree, calling for improvements in Russia’s deeply troubled child welfare system that the Federation Council also adopted Wednesday. “I intend to sign the law,” Mr. Putin said, “as well as a presidential degree changing the procedure of helping orphaned children, children left without parental care, and especially children who are in a disadvantageous situation due to their health problems.”

United States officials have strongly criticized the measure and urged the Russian government not to involve orphaned children in politics.

Since Mr. Putin returned to the presidency in May, Russian officials have used a juggernaut of legislation and executive decisions to curtail United States influence and involvement in Russia, undoing major partnerships that began after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The adoption ban, however, is the first step to take direct aim at the American public and would effectively undo a bilateral agreement on international adoptions that was ratified this year and that took effect on Nov. 1. That agreement called for heightened oversight in response to several high-profile cases of abuse and deaths of adopted Russian children in the United States.

About 1,000 Russian children were adopted in 2011 by parents from the United States, which leads in adoptions here, and more than 45,000 such children have been adopted by American parents since 1999.

COMMENT:  I wonder when we'll wake up and realize that Putin's intent is to build Russia into major world power again, and a challenge to the United States.  For those among the Obamans, who still think that "outreach" will solve all our problems, I do hope they'd take note.

December 27, 2012