Putin surprised the audience by striking a "come-together" tone and refraining from any anti-Western invectives, in sharp contrast to his famous "Munich speech" two years ago.
Seeking to sway the Davos crowd with sincerity, Putin admitted that Russia was "seriously affected" by the crisis. This admission, however, is as far from reality as was his denial of any crisis in Russian economy last autumn.
The key issue, however, is that it is precisely Putin's own leadership that constitutes the greatest handicap for Russia in coping with the crisis, and Western criticism of its lack of transparency and intolerance to opposition is ultimately aimed at helping this key partner overcome the increasing dysfunction of the regime. The organizers of the Davos Forum have a "no-losers" rule for selecting speakers; it might take only a few months to demonstrate that Putin was an unfortunate exception.