- Kremlin chief faces deepening crisis in his war in Ukraine
- The Allies pay tribute but criticism of the military is increasing
- Patriarch prays for Putin’s health
LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin turned 70 on Friday amid congratulations from his subordinates and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s call for all to pray for the health of Russia’s longest serving supreme leader since Josef Stalin .
Putin faces the biggest challenge of his rule after the invasion of Ukraine sparked the most serious confrontation with the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. His army there is reeling from a losing streak over the past month.
Officials hailed Putin as the savior of modern Russia while the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia implored the country to say two days of special prayers for God to grant Putin “health and longevity”.
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“We pray to you, our Lord God, for the head of the Russian state, Vladimir Vladimirovich, and ask you to grant him your rich mercy and bounty, grant him health and longevity, and deliver him from all evils. resistances of visible and invisible enemies, confirm him in wisdom and spiritual strength, for all, Lord, hearken and have mercy,” Kirill said.
Putin, who has vowed to end the chaos that gripped Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, faces the most serious military crisis a Kremlin leader has faced in at least a century. generation since the Soviet-Afghan war of 1979-89.
Opponents such as imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny say Putin has led Russia down a dead end road to ruin, building a fragile system of incompetent sycophants that will eventually crumble and bequeath chaos.
Supporters say Putin saved Russia from destruction by an arrogant and aggressive West.
“Today our national leader, one of the most influential and influential personalities of our time, the world’s number one patriot, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, turns 70!” said Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“Putin changed Russia’s overall position and forced the world to heed the position of our great state.”
But the war in Ukraine has forced Putin to burn vast amounts of political, diplomatic and military capital.
More than seven months into the invasion, Russia has suffered huge losses in men and equipment and been pushed back on multiple fronts over the past month as Putin’s army went from humiliation to the other.
Putin resorted to proclaiming the annexation of territories only in part under Russian control – and whose borders, according to the Kremlin, remain to be defined – and threatening to defend them with nuclear weapons.
A partial mobilization declared by the president on September 21 went so chaotically that even Putin was forced to admit mistakes and order changes. Hundreds of thousands of men fled abroad to avoid being called up.
Even normally loyal allies of the Kremlin have denounced the failures of the military – although they have so far refrained from criticizing the president himself.
Putin finds himself faced with a resurgent, united and expanding NATO, despite his insistence that the ‘special operation’ in Ukraine was aimed at enforcing Russian ‘red lines’ and preventing the alliance from moving closer to borders Russians.
Signs of concern appeared China and Indiaon which Russia increasingly depends as geopolitical and economic partners following successive waves of Western sanctions.
Reflecting on Putin’s birthday, former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov said: “On a birthday it is customary to sum up the results, but the results are so deplorable that it would be better not to draw too much attention to the anniversary.”
Putin has ruled Russia for nearly 23 years since being chosen by President Boris Yeltsin as his preferred successor in a surprise announcement on New Year’s Eve 1999.
Changes passed to the constitution in 2020 paved the way for him to potentially rule until 2036, and there is no clear favorite to succeed him.
He maintains a full schedule of meetings and public events and invariably appears in control of his case, speaking at length in video conferences on topics ranging from energy to education. The Kremlin has denied recurring speculation about alleged health problems.
As he got older, Putin appeared increasingly concerned about his legacy. In June, he compared his actions in Ukraine to the campaigns of the Tsar peter the greatsuggesting that they were both engaged in historical quests to reclaim Russian lands.
Putin is increasingly fond of quoting Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who argued that Russia had an exceptional mystical and holy path to follow that would eventually restore order to an imperfect world.
During a televised meet and greet with teachers this week, Putin showed keen interest in another episode of history – an 18th century peasant revolt against Empress Catherine the Great – whom he blames on “the weakness of the central power in the country”.
From the man who ruled Russia for more than two decades, it seemed a lesson had been taken to heart: in the face of the possibility of rebellion, the ruler must be both strong and vigilant.
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Written by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Heavens
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