President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with FIFA representatives in Moscow on Wednesday, a day before the opening of the World Cup Games. “I hope football fans around the world will enjoy our hospitality, warmness and multi-cultural values and come visit again,” he said with the confidence of a well-prepared host. Some 1.5 million foreigners are expected to visit the country during the games.
Known as “Strong man,” President Putin has continued to confront the United States since he resumed office in 2012, siding with the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad as Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula, and became subject to Western economic sanctions. Conflict with other Western nations peaked following Russia’s interference with the U.S. presidential election and a former Russian spy’s poisoning in the United Kingdom. Many Western countries argued that the World Cup games should be boycotted.
With the World Cup games just ahead, however, Russia’s international status seems to be stronger than ever. Moreover, the spread of populism in several states such as Italia and Austria have led to the rise of pro-Russian governments. Russia also benefits from a closer relationship with its long-standing ally, China.
Jung-Min Dong firstname.lastname@example.org