Gergen: Putin Has ‘Played His Cards Shrewdly, Successfully’

by Eliana Johnson

Former presidential adviser David Gergen said Sunday that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic savvy has outmatched that of the United States and European powers in recent months.

“As much as I detest Vladimir Putin — he’s a thug — you have to acknowledge that he’s played his cards pretty shrewdly and pretty successfully from his point of view,” Gergen told CBS’s Bob Schieffer.

In Syria, Putin managed to forestall military action, capitalizing on an off-the-cuff remark by Secretary of State John Kerry to propose a deal that in the end allowed his ally Bashar Assad not only to survive but to expand his power.

In Ukraine, although the United States said there would be consequences for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin has managed to pocket the territory without reprisal.

“We said, ‘Well, he’s paid a big price for this, he’s diplomatically isolated,’” Gergen said. “Then today, you know, we’ve got the secretary of state turning around to go back and engage in negotiations with the Russians. That’s some diplomatic isolation.”

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