Levine: Don't underestimate Putin's threat

File photo by Erin Schaff of The New York Times / President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Donald Trump participate in a bilateral meeting during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan in June 2019.

Ukrainian-born Comedian Yakov Smirnoff jokingly said Russia's secret police, the KGB, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. That was decades before another comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, became Ukraine's president. But Zelenskyy knows there's nothing funny about Russia's annexation of the eastern part of his country.

The Russians have never been muted in their aggressive global reach. From Vietnam to Cuba, the United States and the former Soviet Union wrestled in a Cold War. As the Soviet Union, Russian invasions included Poland, Ukraine, Latvia and what became the communist republic of Eastern Germany. Russia has been a relentless dictatorship from czarist times to the present, and the number of people who tried to escape Russian rule are legendary.

The movie "Fiddler on the Roof" is great entertainment, but don't be fooled. Czarist Russia had the world's largest population of Jews - a population that was restricted to ghetto-like areas.