Analysts and officials: The invasion shows how isolated Putin really is 

Photo: Berit Roald / NTB

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed an increasingly paranoid and politically isolated Vladimir Putin, analysts and Western officials say.

Some Western leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have previously tried to treat Putin as a reliable but challenging negotiating partner.

But all notions that Putin is acting rationally have gone straight out of the window after he recognized the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states on Monday and after he made a speech in which he cast doubt on Ukraine’s right to exist as a state.

Only a few hours earlier, according to France, he had committed himself to find a diplomatic solution in a telephone conversation with Macron.

A different man

An official at the French presidential palace, who wished to remain anonymous, said Putin’s speech on Ukraine mixed “rigid and paranoid ideas” similar to the impression Macron had in his five-hour meeting with Putin behind closed doors earlier in February.

“The Putin that Macron met in the Kremlin is not the same man he met in December 2019. What he saw in the Kremlin was a Putin who was more rigid and isolated,” the official said.

The two presidents last met at a meeting on Ukraine in Paris in 2019. Earlier that year, Macron received Putin for talks at his summer residence on the Mediterranean in an attempt to engage Moscow. There, a smiling Putin showed up with a bouquet of flowers for Macron’s wife Brigitte.

A man without friends

The pictures from that time are in stark contrast with Putin’s actions this week. In Monday’s speech, he wrongly accused Ukraine of trying to acquire nuclear weapons, saying that the “regime in Kyiv” will be responsible for further bloodshed.

“It was an extremely violent analysis, paranoid, and with delusions… with many historical lies,” France’s European Minister Clement Beaune said.

In a conversation with soldiers caught on camera, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Putin was a man without friends and without alliances.

Choreographed meeting

Monday’s speech was broadcast on television after a tightly choreographed meeting of Russia’s Security Council, which was attended by about twenty officials.

They sat in chairs about 20 meters away from Putin, who followed behind a desk while giving his consent to the recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk.

In a particularly funny moment, Putin humiliated Sergei Naryshkin, the powerful head of Russian foreign intelligence, when Naryshkin stammered and mumbled.

“Speak clearly! Sergei! Yes or no,” Putin asked.

Naryshkin said that the two regions should become part of Russia.

“We are not talking about it or discussing it,” Putin laughed scornfully.

“We are talking about recognizing independence or not!”

Ideology over pragmatism?

The French author Michel Eltchaninoff, who has written the book “Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin,” says that while Putin has expressed ideas such as those in the speech and the choreographed meeting in the past, there has been a disturbing change in how he presented them.

According to him, Putin is determined to “show that he alone makes the decisions” and that the whole thing can almost be seen as a reference to how power was represented in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

According to Eltchaninoff, Putin is breaking with reality in order to be true to his own ideology.

“We have always said that he is a pragmatic leader and a good tactician. Will he sacrifice pragmatism for his ideology? It is possible. At least he seems ready to go to war,” he said.

Russian Tatiana Stanovaja, who founded the political analysis center R. Politik and is a research fellow at the Moscow-based think tank Carnegie Moscow Center, predicts dark times ahead.

“Today is the day Vladimir Putin crossed over to the dark side of history,” she wrote on Telegram after the speech.

“This is the beginning of the end of his regime, which can now only rely on the bayonets.”

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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1 Comment on "Analysts and officials: The invasion shows how isolated Putin really is "

  1. Remarks like Clement Beaune’s are typical of the dangerously stupid European mockery of the lifelong fears of older Russians, especially like Putin, after the death of his 2 year old brother Viktor in the Siege of Leningrad and the near-deaths of his parents in World War 2 in the East – the Nazi Barbarossa operation – which killed 27 million people and physically and psychologically maimed countless millions more.
    Older Russians instinctively fear another attack from the West like Jewish people fear another Nazi Holocaust.
    And as the 16Dec20 vote on anti-Nazi UN General Assembly Resolution 169 showed, the Nazis are still very much around – in Ukraine!

    And in this National Interest article, Putin was basically appealing for Western understanding!

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