Letter From the Editors: March 28-April 3, 2016

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

Move Over, Miss Universe - Putin, Poroshenko and Kadyrov Vie for the Spotlight.

Talk of world peace today is mostly reserved for beauty pageant contestants - the rest of the world tends to take a more cynical view. The only exception here is politicians, who have mastered the art of seamlessly integrating hopelessly optimistic campaign promises with bona fide threats. Let’s pretend for a minute that all the world’s a stage - and the top politicians this week are beauty contestants vying for the title of most daring, intransigent or hopelessly romantic.

The first contestant: Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. He opted to skip the swimsuit competition, and stayed home from the Nuclear Security Summit taking place in Washington. According to his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, that was "due to a lack of cooperation with partners on this issue." Apparently, Moscow is getting increasingly antsy about NATO’s decision to bulk up its forces in Eastern Europe, writes military commentator Vladimir Mukhin. And by all indications, no one plans to spare the Kremlin’s feelings. According to the US European Command, "While Russia has supported some common security efforts in counterterrorism and counternarcotics, these contributions are overshadowed by its disregard for the sovereignty of its neighbors in Europe and its violation of numerous agreements."

So it’s just as well that Putin decided to skip a trip to Washington.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev will be making his debut in Washington this year. In pageantry terms, he’s the fresh-faced Midwestern contestant who is just excited to be there. Why a personal invitation from President Obama? According to Azerbaijani political expert Rasim Musabekov, Aliyev was invited because "the US wants very much to ward off any potential attempts to illicitly transfer nuclear materials to Iran via Azerbaijan."

Our next contestant has had a rough couple of weeks - Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, ...

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