Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Powerful Putin


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Vladimir Putin has been sworn into office for the fifth term in succession for another six years, a feat that no leader of any major nation could ever achieve. An autocrat of the first order, the spy chief-turned ruler of Russia remains a shy person outwardly, but is steeled by a willpower that demolishes internal dissent at all levels with a rare, crude resolve. The point to note is that his tough interior helped Russia to remain intact but he miserably failed to raise the status of his nation into a super power that the USSR once was.
When Putin succeeded the then President Boris Yeltsin in 1999, his promise was to make Russia, the core of the erstwhile USSR, more powerful. When he took charge for the fourth consecutive term in 2018, he said he would make his nation the world’s fifth largest economy, by virtue principally of its oil wealth and assertive administration. In 2022, he waded into Ukraine to annex it, but, with support from the West, the breakaway nation with a Jewish head stood its ground and fought back valiantly. The war is still on, casualties in their thousands on both sides, and Russia was badly bruised as well. Putin was rumoured to be losing his senses, facing ill health and even a nervous breakdown, but none of his weak spots showed up as he was installed at the Kremlin for the fifth term in office. He is resolute in his decision to continue the war and use Ukraine as a buffer zone under Russian control against future attacks from the West on Russia. Starkly, Putin resolved to protect the Russian Constitution even as he violated every tenet, put down dissent with brute force and retained his authority over all sectors of Russian life. To his credit, he uprooted the Chechen and other separatist, Islamist and terrorist modules from the very start and ensured peace in Russia. He refused to budge to western pressure and held his head high. He changed the Constitution at will, functioned as PM for some time by way of a show, but never ever conceded power to any other authority.
Power was where Putin was for the last quarter of a century and it would remain so for more years. At age 71 and known for his ill health, Putin might or might not survive the present term. Expectations among the western nations are that Russia is set for a change of leadership sooner than later. For all practical purposes, a quarter of a century is an unduly long term in power for any ruler other than in well-heeled monarchies as in the Islamic world. There too, with the change of generations, rulers change. So too with China as well.


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