It would be a shame not to pen a review of Vladimir Putin's big annual press conference held earlier today. After all, Putin is at the helm of an aggressor power, which has occupied part of Ukraine's territory, holding millions of Ukrainians hostage. I'd say the conference was unprecedented at least in two respects – security measures due to Putin's panic fear of COV ID-19, as well as the number of loyal journalists.
In fact, not a single daring or unexpected question has been voiced at the press event that would confuse the president or make him lose his cool. Although, given Putin's traditional elusive manner he pursued throughout the entire presser, even in such a situation, he could have as well lied his way out of any real embarrassment through manipulation and outright lies.
In fact, many of Putin's answers deserve attention and a separate debunking, and I'm sure that many media platforms will soon release reports on the president's lies. This is a well-established tradition.
I'd like to point out the fact that today, Putin put in an awkward position his subordinates who have been seeking out wins for the Kremlin on various fronts.
For example, when asked whether he had been vaccinated with Sputnik-V, the Russian president said he hadn't, explaining that the Russian COVID-19 vaccine was unsuitable for his age category. At the same time, when Putin back in October met with his main political operative in Ukraine and major lobbyist of Sputnik-V supplies, Viktor Medvedchuk, the latter told him he had been successfully vaccinated against the coronavirus with this very Sputnik-V vaccine. But Medvedchuk is 66, while Putin at that time was 67. A one-year difference, it appears, is critical for the Russian vaccine. Or perhaps someone's lying?
Also, Putin claimed there was enough fresh water in the occupied Crimea for household consumption. This wasn't in line with multiple attempts by Russian politicians to force Ukraine at the international level to resume Dnipro water supplies to the occupied peninsula – the efforts supported by a massive information campaign promoted by Russian media.
Similarly, the statement is dissonant with all those reports on Crimean reservoirs, lakes and rivers drying out and scheduled water supplies to households being introduced across Crimea. After all, if there is enough fresh water for Crimeans, then the question arises, why impose limitations? Or perhaps fresh water intended to cover civilian needs is redirected to satisfy demand of the ever-growing military grouping Russia has deployed in the area?
On a separate note, Putin accused the United States of launching a new arms race, since it was the U.S. that withdrew from the INF Treaty. At the same time, he completely ignored the fact that it was the Russian 9M729 missiles that violated the Treaty and served toward its termination.
The statement about the threat coming from NATO's eastward expansion, toward Russia borders, sounded similarly foolish. In fact, until 2014, when Russia attacked Ukraine, the Allies had been cutting their defense spending, while the United States was withdrawing its troops from Europe.
Actually, this is pretty much a traditional set of lies by the Russian president. Another important nuance was that the conference was unusually dull.
The president looked extremely sluggish in his gestures and the manner of speaking, at times switching to some indiscriminate gibberish and allowing Freudian slips – like when he referred to the corona vaccine as an "antidote". Putin was clearly struggling though these hours of communication, even with a well-prepared audience, where, perhaps, only a BBC journalist stood out as an unbiased reporter.
Even questions about the family and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, whose name Putin never mentioned, showing not so much his disdain for the rival as own weakness, sounded uncertain and unable to hit him. The whole press conference was a tranquil bliss, a sluggish act aimed to be filled with the required narratives needing a spin.
And the fact that Putin recalled the flights of MS-21 planes (one of Russia's long-term projects) with the PD-14 and Il-114 engines only confirms the fact that those flights were precisely timed to his presser to ensure that Putin has something to say about Russia's greatness and technological genius against the background of a series of scandals surrounding the president's family, intelligence leaks, and a new set of accusations of cyber attacks. And of course, Putin chose not to mention that the MS-21s had been set to be put up for mass production back in 2016 (still not there), while the Il-114 made only its second flight, after the first failed one, which revealed plenty of design defects ...
But despite all harsh realities, scandals, and failed operations of Russian security agencies, as a beam in Putin's eye, the president kept repeating the mantra on the Russian army's greatness, external priorities, intervention in the conflict in Ukraine through providing "assistance" to the people of Donbas, etc. ...
Summarize the above, it's obvious that the rat has been cornered. And that the corner is in Novo-Ogaryovo bunker. Moreover, it's not so much international isolation, sanctions, and the status of an outcast that have cornered the man but also the expanding confrontation between Putin's closest clans, which is unfolding solely because the leader is losing control over the situation.
Will this press conference be the last one for President Putin? Quite possible. But even if it is the case, this doesn't mean that the Russia's lies and ambition will just disappear and that they will be replaced by more humanistic ideals. After all, lies and ambition are Russia's genetic ideology, regardless of the era and leader in power.