Putin Annexes Sheepshead Bay

Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced in Moscow that he had signed a unilateral treaty of accession to bring the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn into the Russian Federation. In a brief ceremony at the Kremlin, Mr. Putin executed the document before handing the pen to himself to sign on behalf of Sheepshead Bay, for which no representative was present.

Mr. Putin’s takeover of the sleepy, ocean-side community, which has been a haven for Russian émigrés and exiles since the Reagan administration, occurred with little warning. Indeed, in an open letter penned only last Monday in Russian Men’s Health magazine, Mr. Putin denied any territorial designs on North America, making only oblique references to the need to “protect and safeguard Russian-speaking peoples in the realm of Brooklyn,” whom he described as “unhappy” and “constantly harassed with spurious accusations of phony insurance claims and Medicaid fraud.”

At a hastily-arranged news conference Friday morning, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York heatedly rejected any contention that Russian speakers in Sheepshead Bay were unhappier than anyone else in Brooklyn. Himself a long-time resident of Brooklyn, Mr. Schumer called the unilateral treaty of accession a “land grab, pure and simple” and puzzled over Mr. Putin’s motives, noting that neighboring Manhattan Beach has higher real estate values and is situated in an historically better-performing school district.

Senator Schumer urged caution. “You want World War III over this? I mean, we had a dinner at Randazzo’s last month,” he said peevishly, referring to the popular seafood restaurant in Sheepshead Bay. “The clam bellies have really gone downhill. Like rubber.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared initially to welcome the move by the country he often refers to fondly as “the Motherland” but quickly reversed himself, ordering the immediate seizure of assets from the New York bank accounts of Gazprom, Rosneft, and residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Reeling from declining public approval, the mayor promised to use the money to fund universal pre-K. Queried about the Upper East Side’s role in the Russian takeover of Sheepshead Bay, the mayor answered, “None that I’m aware of.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s New York consulate, in a diplomatic tit for tat, announced that it would bar former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz from the Russian sections of the Q train as well as from the newly-renamed Brooklyn-Queens-Smolensk Expressway.

In Europe, reaction was decidedly mixed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking from her vacation villa overlooking the Acropolis, declined to involve her country. Citing Neville Chamberlain with a sly smile behind her sunglasses, Ms. Merkel referred to the Sheepshead Bay affair as a “quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing.”

For his part, Mr. Putin was in no mood to debate the point. “It’s done,” he said, removing his shirt and tie to show off a fresh Brooklyn Nets tattoo to a small but generally receptive audience.



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