Vladimir putin is not a black belt in judo for reasons connected to self-defence on the mean streets of Moscow. He always has a plan and last week the world got a look at one of his more cunning ones. Before the G8 summit at Heiligendamm in Germany, ties were being loosened and collars eased not because of global warming but because of the war of words between Russia and the United States over the latter’s plans to deploy an anti-missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Mr Putin launched a ‘If you want the Cold War again, we’ll be happy to make it easier for you’ tirade against Washington, which made George W Bush start drinking more water than his ex-dipso throat was perhaps used to.
While the world chewed on its lower lip in consternation and awaited the phantom of Ronald Reagan to settle matters once again, Mr Putin flipped the flop and cleared the air. In judo parlance, he first used the kansetsu-waza technique (to lock the joints) and then fell backwards to use the ma-sutemi-waza technique to flip the whole matter of missile defence and pin it on the mat.
Instead of raving and ranting about a threat perception from European soil, he simply suggested that Russia and the US use the Daryal early-warning missile radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan, close to the Iranian border as the venue of the grand anti-missile defence plan. No questions asked, some warbled mutters from Mr Bush, who apparently was last heard recovering from a stomach infection.