The strongmen are rampaging across the world stage with impunity, and they know it.
Only moments after European Council President Donald Tusk used a news conference to urge G20 leaders to address Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia’s evident disregard for human rights, video footage of the leaders’ arrivals showed Russian President Vladimir Putin slapping hands in jovial fashion with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they took their seats for the summit’s opening session.
It was a striking display of locker-room camaraderie between the two vilified tough guys — Putin, the former KGB agent who has been Russia’s supreme leader for just shy of two decades, and the young monarch who, according to Western and Turkish intelligence, ordered the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Russian President Putin and Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman embrace and laugh at the G20 in Argentina. pic.twitter.com/DtyNK6RwhI
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 30, 2018
If Putin was feeling any concern about Tusk’s vow that Western economic sanctions against Russia would be extended yet again in January, he did not give the smallest hint of it. And if the crown prince was worried in the slightest about the international condemnation that he has faced in recent weeks, there was also no indication as he adjusted his gold-trimmed thawb and took his seat at the conference table.
Indeed, the only tough guy in Argentina who seems to be having the slightest trouble these days is U.S. President Donald Trump, who flew to Buenos Aires amid the latest blockbuster developments in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump election campaign. [Continue reading…]