It’s not easy being an ally (intentional or not) of Vladimir Putin. Reports have indicated that remaining cooperative Russian elites and State TV propagandists now fear being accused of war crimes when the war ends. That’s because things are increasingly looking more dire for Russian troops, and no one knows how Putin can possibly win at this stage (even he has admitted to failing to provide even basic supplies for soldiers), which probably explains his nuclear talk.
For the moment, though, Putin is in the Christmas spirit, and he left the bunker on Monday for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States group with gifts in hand for leaders of the former Soviet republics. As Russian independent news outlet Meduza reported, the group included “the presidents of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as the Armenian prime minister.” Putin handed out some fancy “rings of power” (surely he didn’t mean to reference a certain J.R.R. Tolkien franchise?), and only one leader immediately donned the trinket. From The Moscow Times:
Each of the leaders attending the meeting was presented with a gold-coloured ring with New Year’s greetings engraved on it, although only Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko put Putin’s present on his finger immediately, it was reported.
That’s awkward. The Moscow Times (which includes a photo of these rings) also notes that Putin’s Ukraine war has caused disagreements within the group, which Putin (during the summit) called an “unfortunate” occurrence, but he stressed, “The main thing, however, is that we are ready and will cooperate.” He also called for “providing each other with comradely assistance and mediation” in solving any internal issues that arise due to the war. Putin also apparently also had a ring fashioned for himself, but god only knows whether he’ll wear the jewelry if he flees Russia, as he’s reportedly planning to do if he loses the war.