OK, here’s where it gets interesting. The Russian pundits (yes, they have them too and yes, they have blogs) are fit to be tied. Many fail to see any validity between Putin’s challenge to the West (specifically America) in his Munich speech last week and the appointment of a novice to the position of Defense Minister. A quick sample of some of the comments – blogs and traditional press follows:
- Viktor Alksnis, a retired Colonel and Russian ultra-nationalist, remarked in his blog that Putin's declared itinerary for challenging the US as the sole world power "can only be based on the rebirth of Russian military might." This is impossible, Alksnis opined, under a "defense minister-furniture salesman," whose appointment "spits in the face of Russian military officers and generals, who believed in Putin and hoped that now the Russian military rebirth would begin".
- A young, former lieutenant who served in the Moscow-based ABM force noted that "The defense minister's post is now occupied by an incidental person, a get-rich-quick type from the 1990s, a furniture salesman, who found his way into power ... However, the military is not a furniture store, it is a world in itself, which needs to be learned from the inside." He added that as with the appointment of military novice Sergey Ivanov, "they spat on the military once again," because he could not imagine how Serdyukov could do anything positive for the armed forces.
- Ekho Moskvy radio, often critical of the government, reported comments from nationalist pundit Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, who said that the military "was spat on ... and is now in mourning," adding that they should be thankful that Putin appointed a human as defense minister and "not his Labrador."