Putin and Nixon: birds of a feather

If you have been confused about what has been happening in Ukraine over the past week and went online or picked up a paper to try and find out, chances are you would come away not much the wiser.

Depending on what you read, Russian President Vladimir Putin is either a strategic genius, playing a long game of chess while the West plays marbles, or a short-sighted opportunist, constantly reacting to events but never able to control them.

Putin is either taking advantage of American weakness to throw Russian weight around, or is threatened by American and Western power pushing further against his borders.

Putin is either a hard-nosed realist, who will only respond to force and understands the importance of a balance-of-power, or an ideological Russian nationalist, prepared to risk Russia's material wellbeing and international standing in order to poke his perceived enemies in the eye.

In reading the multiple accounts and analyses of what is going on in Russia and Ukraine, I couldn't help but think of a comment by Henry Kissinger to TV presenter Dick Cavett, when discussing his former boss, Richard Nixon: