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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pen in Hand, Putin Goes on G8 Offensive

Some world leaders use an international forum like Davos to get their message out. Others call a splashy news conference. President Vladimir Putin wrote an article.

Putin took Russia's goals for its presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations and boiled them down into an article that he offered to "the leading world media," as a Kremlin spokeswoman described it. At least one newspaper, the International Herald Tribune, published the article as a paid advertisement on Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal first published a short version of the article on its opinion pages Tuesday. That version -- the first installment of a four-part series -- was quickly picked up by a number of newspapers, including Vedomosti and The Moscow Times.

Izvestia ran the entire text at more than 2,000 words on Wednesday.

The Turkish Daily News also published the entire article, while Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper ran all four parts but trimmed the text to about 1,500 words.

The Kremlin spokeswoman could not say how many newspapers had been offered the article and how many had published it. Asked whether the Kremlin had tried to have the article published as paid advertising, she demanded that the question and any others be submitted by fax. By law, the Kremlin press service has 10 days to respond to written requests.

The article -- which the Kremlin titled "The Upcoming G8 Summit in St. Petersburg: Challenges, Opportunities and Responsibility" -- focuses mainly on the major theme of Russia's presidency: global energy security.

In the article, Putin calls on the international community to develop a strategy for achieving energy security, which would "be based on a long-term, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy supply at prices affordable to both the exporting countries and the consumers."

Other sections are dedicated to education and fighting infectious diseases -- other priorities of Russia's presidency.

In contrast to Putin's approach, Prime Minister Tony Blair presented Britain's agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2005, when Britain took over the G8 presidency last year.

The World Economic Forum offered Putin the same platform this year, but he declined.

Putin's article comes amid deep concern in the West, and the United States in particular, over Russia's qualifications to lead the G8. Russia's gross domestic product equals that of the Netherlands, and Putin's government has been criticized for squashing independent television, scrapping gubernatorial elections and, most recently, restricting nongovernmental organizations.

The article, however, does appears to be not in response to that criticism but instead an attempt to improve Russia's image as a reliable provider of gas and oil supplies.

"The article is mainly about the core of Russia's G8 presidency -- affirming itself as the guarantor of the West's energy security," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Politics.

"And the West's worship of European values is often sidelined when its economic interests are jeopardized," he said.

Alexander Golts, an independent political and defense analyst, said the article was effectively an offer to G8 partners to agree on affordable energy prices at a time when they are at sky-high levels.

Golts noted that even though Putin in the article lamented the lack of stability on oil and gas markets and called it a threat to energy security, Russia's oil revenues could probably be sharply hit if it were not for the conflict in Iraq and tensions around Iran's nuclear program.

Putin's decision to paint Russia as the guarantor of energy security due to its leverage in global energy supplies looks like an attempt to calm jitters over the disruption of gas supplies to Europe amid a pricing dispute with Ukraine in January, said Lukyanov and Boris Makarenko, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.

"The scandal with Ukraine undermined the ethos of Russia's G8 presidency," Lukyanov said. "Putin's article is a reaction not to the Western criticism over problems with democracy in Russia, but to that diplomatic mistake."