Russian President Vladimir Putin is busy trying to pull off a malevolent charade of his own in Moscow. Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine is rapidly unraveling and he is running for cover. After nine months of deadly combat, defeats and retreats in addition to harsh Western economic sanctions, Putin has nothing to show for it except 100,000-plus Russian casualties, 8,047 pieces of military hardware destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured, and hideously, in gross violation of the Geneva Convention, more than 40,000 non-combatant dead civilians.
If only reality mirrored Putin’s fantasy world. It doesn’t. No amount of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” Kremlin myopia will prevent the Russian public from ultimately seeing through Putin’s charade of lies and misdirection. Not when recently mobilized soldiers being shipped to the front lines in Luhansk Oblast are purportedly being issued military clothing stripped off dead or wounded soldiers who fought before them. Not when there are reports of the remains of Russian soldiers, uniforms and equipment being burned and buried in the landfills of Kherson.
Putin’s performative art is fooling no one, except those needing to be willingly fooled or misled in Russia.
Globally, the walls are closing in on Putin and Russia. China and India, finally, may be seeing past Putin’s charade, no doubt for self-interested reasons — China vis-à-vis its future designs in Taiwan, and India vis-à-vis its need for global trade with the West. Regardless, their pushback against Putin at the recent G20 summit in Indonesia was significant in that they are further boxing in Russia on a global stage that has had enough of his adventurism in Ukraine.