President Obama was caught on a hot mic telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that "after my election I have more flexibility" to deal with issues like missile defense at a meeting in Seoul, South Korea in March 2012.
Medvedev responded, "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin.]"
Putin appears to have received the message of America's "flexibility" loud and clear. As Russia annexes the Crimea and threatens Ukraine's sovereignty, the West has been "divided, humiliated and powerless in the face of these land grabs," writes Edward Lucas for The Daily Mail:
"We are soon to face a bleak choice. We can chose to surrender any responsibility we have to protect Ukraine and the Baltic states - almost certainly Putin's next target - from further Russian incursion. Or we can mount a last-ditch attempt to deter Russia from furthering its imperial ambitions.
It is about whether Putin's Russia - a rogue state on Europe's doorstep - can hold its neighbours to ransom, and whether we have the will to resist him. So far the answer to the first question is yes. And to the second a bleak no."
Russia's virile, aggressive posturing and criticism of the administration's weak response, leaves one wondering: was this James Bond-style ad released in March 2012 by American Crossroads prescient?
The ad features the comment Obama made to Medvedev and imitates a James Bond movie trailer. A female narrator says: "Your mission is simple, Mr. Obama. Win one last election to gain unchecked flexibility, weaken our defenses, and fundamentally transform the world. Dmitry will transmit the information. Starring Barack Obama as President Flexible, Dmitry Medvedev as Dr. Transmitkov, and Vladimir Putin as Himself."