Tag Archives: Putin

All in Favor of Joining Russia


The military occupation of Ukrainian city Crimea by Vladimir Putin’s russian forces has caused unrest and tension between russian supporters and ukrainian loyalists. The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014 with the decline of an economic deal proposed by the European Union and has since escalated into military intervention.

Depicted in this contemporary political cartoon is a man being threatened by a tank. The man being confronted by the tank is old and dressed in casual clothes with a cap that looks European (for lack of a better term). The man is labeled Crimea and he has his arms raised above his head in surrender and looks alarmed. The man inside the tank is labeled Putin and looks down at the Crimean man threateningly, saying “All those in favor of joining Russia, raise their hands…”.

The beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict started with a proposed economic deal from the European Union. Ukrainians desired involvement with the stronger economies of Western Europe and the European Union wanted connections with more Eastern European economies. However, despite the benefits to both sides, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych started to express his doubts about the agreement. The Ukrainian people saw this hesitation as a sign that the president was giving in to President Vladimir Putin of Russia’s pressure to decline the EU’s deal, which he eventually did, accepting a different economic deal from Russia in it’s place.

This angered the people of Ukraine for two reasons: first, the majority of the population wanted to ally themselves with the more productive western economies, and second, the new agreement showed a strengthened alignment with Russia. Protests broke out in the capital city of Kiev, which was met with harsh retaliation from the Ukrainian government who sent in riot police and armed guards. Conflict between the the Pro-Russian groups and the Anti-Russian groups steadily increased. On April 15, 2014, Crimea, a center of Pro-Russian sentiment in Ukraine, was declared to be a territory under provisional occupation by the Russian military. This military occupation has continued into the present day of 2016. Currently the United Nations has condemned this occupation on the grounds that the condition of human rights has deteriorated in Crimea since the military forces took over.

The humor of this cartoon comes in the irony of Putin’s words. He is talking about Crimea joining Russia as if it was up to them, telling them to raise their hands if they agree. Judging just from his words, it sounds fair and democratic. However, the Crimean man is raising his hands out of fear and surrender, face to face with the gun part of the tank. There is brute force juxtaposed with the seemingly innocuous suggestion Putin makes. Putin offers a choice, but in reality there is no choice; the Crimean man must raise his hands or face possible death. The shock of the threat the tank poses elicits a humorous response from the reader, since it is incongruous with the compromising nature of Putin’s words.

Some elements that enhance the meaning of this cartoon include the clothes of Putin and the Crimean man, as well as their positions and the background of the illustration. Putin wears a black suit, appropriate for the office he holds, that gives off the suggestion of power and competence. This is contrasted with the simple clothes of the Crimean man, who wears a cap that is reminiscent of a stereotypical Eastern European peasant’s hat. He is lower class than Putin, and does not hold nearly the same amount of power. The simplicity of his attire suggests vulnerability. The background is filled with a smokey gray haze, creating an atmosphere of fear and dismay that reflects the attitude of the Crimean man. Putin’s thinly veiled demand for his country to join Russia does not bode well.

Works Cited

“Ukraine: Everything You Need to Know about How We Got Here.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

News, BBC. “Why Crimea Is so Dangerous.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

“UN Committee Condemns Russian Occupation of Crimea.” VOA. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Curran, John. “Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Explained.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.


Sanctions Vladimir Putin

putin bent over a barrel
Vladimir Putin bent over a barrel represents the worsened state of the Russian economy.

The current conflict in Ukraine is just the tip the iceberg in Ukrainian and Russian relations. The area known as Ukraine had been under the control of Russia, with a few lapses, since 1793. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 shifted power from the Russian tsars to the communist Bolsheviks. In 1922, Ukraine joined the USSR as a founding republic; this includes the area that was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire (New World Encyclopedia 1.) The USSR was a communist nation which put them at odds with the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1939 the Soviets signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany, making an alliance with the U.S. and Great Britain very unlikely, until Hitler broke the pact and attacked the USSR anyway. This spurred talks between the U.S. and the USSR and an alliance was reached. The U.S. officially became a belligerent nation in WWII in late 1941 when they sent help to assist the USSR in fighting Nazi Germany. Relations between the U.S. and the USSR became strained again after the war signaling the start of the Cold War. Former prime minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” Speech on March 5, 1946. The Cold War persisted until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, which subsequently freed Ukraine. Russia has shifted from a communistic dictatorship to a democracy with a free-market system, however, the extent to which Russia is actually a democracy with a free-market system is up to debate.

“Sanctions Vladimir Putin” by  Christian Adams  published on December 17th, 2014 illustrates that the Russian economy, represented by the caricature of Vladimir Putin, is in a worsened state. The state of the Russian economy has steadily been in decline starting with the sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has had travel restrictions put on them by the EU and the U.S. Along this same line, many state run energy companies, such as Rosneft, have had their financing options limited. This makes it quite hard for them to recover from the blow of low oil prices. It has taken an even steeper dive since November 2014 when OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) started flooding the market with crude oil in an attempt to make extraction of newly discovered deposits of shale oil unprofitable in the Americas.

The sanctions that have been imposed by the U.S. on Russia are in response to Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression toward Ukraine. Russian aggression toward Ukraine has increased in region known as Crimea, which is regarded as an ethnically Russian region. Ukraine has been calling for somebody to stand up to Russia since “Russian soldiers… first appeared in the Ukrainian peninsula known as Crimea back in February [2014]” (Ioffe 1). The U.S. and the EU have responded with economic sanctions that have hit Russia squarely in the gut. These sanctions have “suspended credit finance that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia” as well as shut off all imports into Russia that would aid them in further oil discovery operations” (Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs 1).

Another major factor in the decline of the Russian economy is the sharp fall of oil prices. This is due to OPEC deciding to not drawback the output “despite a glut of 1-2m barrels a day accumulating in global markets” (Evans-Pritchard 1). This decision was made mostly by Saudi Arabia, who has made it their mission to stomp out the developing North American shale oil companies (Evans-Pritchard 1). Shale oil companies have been threatening the Saudi Arabia’s market share in recent years and Saudi Arabia is determined to make them unprofitable by keeping the oil prices drastically low. This has had a horrific effect on the Russian economy. As the oil prices have lowered, it has exposed the Russian economy as “decrepit… uncompetitive” and has put the ruble at a record low in the global exchange market” (Lucas 1).

The humor in this cartoon comes from the depiction of Putin as beat up, shirtless, and dazed. Humor is also derived from the physical positioning of Putin being on top of a barrel. This is a play on the phrase, bent over a barrel; which implies that somebody is in a bad situation that they cannot get out of. Putin usually comes off as aggressive, macho, and in control. This cartoon puts him in the exact opposite light: weak, put down, and out of control. The barrel itself is labeled “sanctions”, which implies that the reason why Putin is in this positon is because of U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia. Also the cartoonist used a barrel that has a black liquid leaking out of it. This is to illustrate that it is not just sanctions that have put the Russian economy in a bad position, but lower oil prices. These two factors are mainly why the Russian economy is in a predicament and it demonstrates that Putin’s is finally on the receiving end of his strong arm tactics.

The parallels between modern day Russia and Stalin’s USSR are a bit disturbing. First off, we have the leaders: Vladimir Putin and Joseph Stalin. They both achieved their goals by force. The USSR’s expansions into Eastern Europe in the late 1930’s and Putin’s grab of Ukraine are examples of an authoritarian leader ignoring the sovereignty of other nations. Stalin did kill millions of his own people, which Putin has not done, but he has definitely continued the oppression of his own people. The jailing of reporters that speak out against the Kremlin and the jailing of people for being homosexual are two prime examples of Putin’s oppressive behavior. The economic situations between the two time periods are quite alike as well. In Knott’s cartoon “All Over the Plan!” Knott is pointing out the dire outlook for Stalin’s Five Year Plan because of the world depression that was set off by the American Stock market crash in 1929. Modern day Russia is in an economic depression because of the drastically lower oil prices which are due to Saudi Arabia refusing to lower the output of crude oil to market needs. The parallels between modern day Russia and Stalin’s Russia are clear and point to the fact that Russia is not as far along in its modernization as it has been letting on.

Works Cited

Adams, Christian. Sanctions Vladimir Putin. 17 Dec. 2014. Digital file

Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. “Russia flirst with Saudi Arabia as OPEC pain deepens.” telegraph.co.uk. Ed. Telegraph. Telegraph, 6 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Ioffe, Julia, and Linda Kinstler. “Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine again, lets stop pretending a ceasefire ever existed.” New Republic. New Republic, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Lucas, Edward. “Putin’s economic lies over Russia have been dangerously exposed.” telegraph.co:uk. Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

New World Encyclopedia. “Ukraine.” New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ukraine>.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affiars. “Ukraine and Russia Sanctions.” state.gov. Ed. Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs. U.S. Department of State, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.