Russian President Vladimir Putin is now a world player who should be on the minds of every citizen in the U.S. He is a bad man and will eventually change the fate of our nation. High school history teachers should be putting the old Soviet Union — the Russian Federation — back in their lesson plans.

Our government needs to move this player up to the top of the rogue-leader list. He is orchestrating the attempt to take over a neighboring country of Ukraine. This came immediately after the people of the Ukraine democratically tossed out Putin’s puppet leader, who was living like an opulent king in a developing country. When confronted about his movement of heavy artillery and large numbers of armored units to the border, he merely states that they are in training.

Just how arrogant is Vladimir Putin? He ignores the U.S. and leaders from all over Europe. When a commercial airliner is shot down, he uses the media to show him going to church and later being with schoolchildren. The Russian media is controlled by Putin and his government. He operates without a conscience but always with a purpose.

When it was proven that his Russian mercenaries shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, he made a short apology and mentioned the need for peace. He continues to move his government troops along the border while limiting access to the airliner to prevent an international investigation.

A cunning manipulator, Putin is a product of his environment. He is a former senior KGB leader, who, while on assignment, spent several years as the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. His assignment was to ensure that a very modern and progressive mayor didn’t cross over party lines. He is as pure a Soviet as the world can tolerate. As a high-ranking member of the KGB, he watched the breakup of the Soviet Union and the hollow changes under Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

He has never relinquished power and control of Russia and has slowly positioned himself as an influence all over the world. He is slowly, without any fanfare, growing a massive modern military. It goes without saying that in space, Russia is second to none. We certainly depend on the Russians now that our government’s manned space program was terminated. Will the Russians in the future cooperate with the U.S. after the U.S. has led the sanctions being placed against the Russians?

Finally, just how strong are the alliances our government has with other nations? It does not go unnoticed that our government is no longer as strong nor does it want the role of world’s leader. When there is a U.S. decision vacuum or just a failure to act, Putin’s Russia will be there to fill the void. Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have all but broken our desire to keep a strong military. We have been severely embarrassed by the Snowden debacle, NSA monitoring of Americans phones, IRS, Benghazi, and the list goes on. Germany falls out of security agreements because of our inept attempts to spy on a friend and the Germans’ need for Russian gas. The French are selling warships to the Russians.

Putin has returned to the old ways of the Soviet Union and is ready to fill the void of the United States. We are no longer respected. Putin is winning.

A career missile officer, James Slagle began his career at Davis-Monthan in 1969 and retired from the Air Force as a colonel. He has lectured at the Gargarin Academy outside Moscow and the General Officer’s Academy in Kiev. Contact him at