As if trying to compensate for his recent “disappearance” in early March, President Vladimir Putin participated in a series of high-intensity meetings and public events last week.
The focal point for the “patriotic” propaganda for the last several months has been the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War (as World War II is known in Russia), which is now just a few days away. Reflections on the horrible costs of that bitter victory or on coalition efforts with the Allies have been nearly nonexistent; instead, jingoistic triumphalism, combined with the traditional display of military might, translates into an eager anticipation of yet another victorious campaign. Putin has invested a lot of personal effort in turning this celebration into a demonstration of Russia’s prominent position in the international arena, and now has to swallow not only the fruits of isolation but also the consequences of progressing economic feebleness. The artificially induced moment of national unity will likely dissipate with unpredictable speed in the weeks to come, so his window for a new morale-boosting aggressive action may turn out to be quite narrow.