After a week of rough rhetoric, threats of stiffer sanctions and his “temporary” expulsion from the G-8, Vladimir Putin managed to remain the central figure of all of Europe’s discussions this week. Despite the Obama administration’s relentless efforts to economically isolate and publicly ostracize the Russian leader, other Western leaders found Russia too integrated a business entity to ignore.

Spared the usual tasteless chicken, fish or beef options with bottled water, and informal chit chat, Putin cut to the chase in pre-planned sidebar meetings with Merkel of Germany, Cameron of the UK and Hollande of France. Seemingly oblivious to U.S. pressure, Vladimir Putin is maneuvering around economic road blocks and stop signs to reach his intended destination; a stronger and more influential Russia.

Putin Works Europe From the Outside In

In short, Putin just hung out at the after parties to talk future business opportunities on the down low, while Barack Obama shouts to the rafters about the dangers of Russian aggression. Although Vladimir Putin didn’t receive a warm Western embrace, he didn’t exactly get the cold shoulder either.

If only we could access some of the NSA’s surveillance tools to listen in on what Merkle Hollande and Cameron are really saying behind President Obama’s back. One can only imagine the dialog during that very secret meeting. “Look Vlad, we don’t give a good God Damn about those crazy Ukrainians.”

“Europe’s primary objective is to shore up its flatlining economies and hold the Union together if possible. The Americans are always popping off about something or sticking their noses into other people’s affairs. Just play along with these pain in the Asses until the heat is off and we’ll bring you back on line in a heartbeat!” Well, it could have gone that way!

Bottom line: Since the G-8 meeting concluded without agreeing to any new sanctions and left the door open for Russia return to the G-8 fold, its hard to see how Vladimir Putin didn’t win another round in the eye of international opinion.

BTW, No Podcast today.