Much of what Putin is doing comes straight out of the Hitler era. In order to gain control of Germany Hitler first gained control of the German people by intimidation and economical stability after the Great Depression. After the death of President Hindenburg, Hitler gained control by combining the office of the Chancellor and the office of the President. Hitler aligned himself with Mussolini and sent the Italians loose to distract the rest of the world while Hitler began his conquest of neighboring countries.
Much of what Putin is doing has a great deal of similarity to the Hitler/Mussolini era. As President Putin dissolved the Russian government. He basically installed the current President through a rigged voting system and clamping down on any opposition. He has aligned himself with Ahmadinejad, controls the Russian President, and started his conquest of former Soviet Union provinces. His attack on Georgia was not the first act of aggression. It began with Chechnya and with all eyes on Iran (Ahmadinejad), Putin has escalated the crackdown on all former provinces of the Soviet Union by invading Georgia.
Like Hitler used Mussolini, Putin is using Ahmadinejad to distract the world. He stated his goal in a 2007 article in The Guardian. "Vladimir Putin announced ambitious plans to revive Russia's military power and restore its role as the world's leading producer of military aircraft yesterday."
I believe this was only a prelude to his desire to resurrect the Soviet Union to its original design of global power by any means, including military domination. Unlike Hitler, Putin is not a madman and can be stopped before his global desires overtake his common sense. If the European countries unite with the United States and send a strong message to Putin that expansionism of Russia into neighboring countries will not be tolerated, the dangers of an all out war within the next four years can be avoided. If we stand by as we did during the Hitler/Mussolini era and do nothing, the next President will have to make one of two decisions. Will we capitulate to Putin and Ahmadinejad or risk a World War?
For too long we have focussed all of our attention on Ahmadinejad and overlooked Putin. The reality is both are joined at the hip. One is using the other as a distraction to gain what each desire separately. Ahmadinejad seeks the destruction of Israel and control of all of the Middle East, while Putin is intent on rebuilding the Soviet Union and gain control of Europe. A weak or timid United States President in 2009 may give both exactly what they want.