April Fools! Thanks for participating in a bit of Save The Waves’ tomfoolery. And rest assured, Putin is NOT going to annex Bali. 

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this Friday his intention to pursue the annexation of Bali, a small island in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Indonesia, as part of the Russian Federation.

Citing the consistent and quality surf, warm water and a significant Russian expatriate population, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov justified the annexation.  “So many Russians have relocated to areas around Kuta and the Bukit Peninsula, we see this as a natural extension of the Russian cultural diaspora.”

Woodrow Wilson Center analyst Matthew Rojansky said by taking over Bali, Putin has further damaged the image of Russia as being a responsible partner on the international stage.

“But there is another image that he may care much, much more about, and that is his image at home as not only defender of the Russian people,” said Rojansky, “but also as a surfer. He wants to show strength through his barrel riding skills.”

Many think that the power play may also be in response to the surfing status as an Olympic sport. Russians have begun training to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and may be scouting suitable training locations.

In response to the news, ISA President Fernando Aguerre said, “We are delighted that the Russians are so enthusiastic about surfing in the proposed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sports Programme. Surfing is hugely popular in Russia and the country sends many competitors to many national and international competitions in a number of beautiful ocean locations. There are some great and thriving beach-based surfing hotspots to choose from which would be ideal for Olympic Surfing, but military occupation is not necessary in this case.”

The price for Russia’s takeover of Bali will be a slowly increasing raft of sanctions from Washington and Europe targeting Russian markets. The stock market in Moscow took a beating Friday morning amid the threat of harsher sanctions — including possible broad economic sanctions against Russian institutions by the surf industry.

Save The Waves is actively opposing the occupation. Find out more info or get involved here.