Putin 'Clearly Doesn't Know What to Do'

Russian leader losing support among his nation's elite, according to 'Washington Post' analysis
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2022 2:35 PM CST
Isolated Putin Extends Invite to China's Xi
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, seen onscreen, via a video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022.   (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping had a closely watched video call on Friday, one in which Putin invited the Chinese leader to Moscow in the spring. Xi didn't explicitly accept, reports the Guardian. But he did talk about ramping up "strategic cooperation with Russia," even as he acknowledged the "complicated and consistently changing international situation,” per the New York Times. Analysts were keeping an eye on the language to see if Xi might distance China from Putin amid the war in Ukraine. “But today’s call indicates that Xi isn’t planning to throw Putin under the bus," Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace tells the Guardian. "The ties between the two countries will only grow next year."

Based on an analysis in the Washington Post, that would be good news for Putin, who apparently needs all the allies he can get, both at home and abroad. The key point made in the piece:

  • "Putin, who started his career as a Soviet KGB agent, has always kept his own counsel, relying on a close inner circle of old friends and confidants while seeming to never fully trust or confide in anyone. But now a new gulf is emerging between Putin and much of the country’s elite, according to interviews with Russian business leaders, officials and analysts."

One of those business leaders offered a particularly damning, if anonymous, assessment: “There is huge frustration among the people around him,” says the well-connected Russian billionaire. “He clearly doesn’t know what to do.” (More Vladimir Putin stories.)

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