Many smart people will no doubt pick apart today's Putin's annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly.
Your humble blogger thought it nervously and rather unconvincingly delivered. Yesterday I wondered whether the pressure getting to Putin? Well maybe it is. [Full text in English here]
Noted Kremlin-watcher Mark Galeotti observed in his Twitter
"After today's speech, clear Putin substituting rhetoric for ideas. But defensive note to fiery words. Is scale of Ukraine blunder dawning?"
Putin declared: "Next year, we will mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Our Army crushed the enemy and liberated Europe. "
He conveniently forgets that in WW2 Ukrainians proportionately suffered considerably more, and contributed more in terms of lives lost, than Russians fighting in the Soviet army...Even the Soviets would not consider such an omission.
The grandchildren of those Ukrainians that fought and perished defeating Hitler are now fighting just as determinedly against a Russian aggressor.
Putin claimed: "No one will ever attain military superiority over Russia..."
Is this what his industrial/military complex and generals tell him? Does he ever look at the numbers? Who is he kidding?
And there was no mention of the 'Novorossiya' project at all, a name that was continually being trumpeted just a few months ago - it all seems to have been quietly ditched...
As for amnesty for funds returned from off-shore havens....I'd bet half the people in the hall listening to Putin have been scheming for weeks to dump roubles, convert them into hard currency and squirrel it away in some secret bank account abroad..Who is Putin kidding here?
Crimea being as sacred to Russia as the Temple Mount is to the Jews?...well this is really something new...Kyiv maybe, but Crimea? Something sucked out of Putin's thumb?
Many Russians who watched will be thinking: "Maybe the old boy is losing it. How many more years have we to put up with him?"