Russia | Putin begins his fifth term under the theme of “Russian sovereignty”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who began his fifth term at the head of the country on Tuesday, promised to stay the course in Ukraine until victory, while the situation on the ground becomes complicated.




At a ceremony boycotted by most Western countries, the 71-year-old politician reiterated that the war undertaken in 2022 was necessary to defend “Russian sovereignty”.

“We are going through this period with dignity and we will become even stronger,” the Russian leader told an audience of 2,500 dignitaries.

His swearing-in came a day after the Kremlin warned its Western adversaries against intensifying their support for Kyiv by once again brandishing the nuclear threat.

PHOTO SERGEI ILNITSKY, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Some 2,500 dignitaries gathered to mark the first day of Vladimir Putin’s fifth term.

Dominique Arel, a Ukraine specialist attached to the University of Ottawa, notes that Moscow wanted to react in particular to the fact that the United Kingdom defended in early May the legitimacy of Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory with long-range missiles provided through London.

This authorization is likely to intensify Ukrainian attacks, which particularly target Russian oil installations, while the United States refuses to allow its own missiles to be used for this purpose, notes Mr. Arel.

Until now, the Ukrainians have used drones, but it risks doing more harm with British missiles.

Dominique Arel, from the University of Ottawa

Key aid from the United States

Eugene Rumer, a Russia specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, notes that the disruption of Russian oil activities is an “irritant” for Moscow, which derives most of its revenue from this sector. However, it does not seem sufficient to really affect the Russian economy and war machine, he said.

PHOTO MIKHAIL TERESHCHENKO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Vladimir Putin reviews the honor guards of the presidential regiment.

The recent release by the US Congress of more than $60 billion in military aid to Kyiv is a greater source of concern for Russia, which has taken advantage of the interruption in munitions supplies to make advances on the terrain in eastern Ukraine, notes Mr. Rumer.

“The advanced aid is an important step to support the Ukrainian forces, but it will not at all be enough to completely turn the tide and launch a counter-offensive in 2025, as the government says it wants to do,” warns the analyst , which is concerned about Kyiv’s ability to recruit and train new soldiers in sufficient numbers.

Maria Popova, a Russia specialist at McGill University, notes that Moscow “has not made a major breakthrough” on the ground in recent months despite Ukraine’s arms supply problems.

PHOTO MIKHAIL TERESHCHENKO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

The announcement of American aid represents “a difficult awakening” for the Russian president, “who believed victory was within reach,” she said.

“There is nothing to suggest that the conflict is likely to be resolved soon. Russia does not want to settle for a part of Ukraine, and Ukraine has no intention of giving up the fight,” summarizes M.me Popova.

An eye on the American presidential election

Dominique Arel, for his part, warns that a possible re-election in the fall of former US President Donald Trump, who encouraged the blockade in Congress, could be a “catastrophe” for Kyiv due to his opposition to continued funding the United States.

“But the envelope that has just been voted on settles the question of American funding for one year,” he said.

The development of the situation in Ukraine represents the absolute priority of Vladimir Putin’s next term, notes Mr. Rumer, who does not see any sign of an opposition movement in Russia likely to compromise his plans.

PHOTO NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Russian howitzers fire a salute during Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony.

Critics of the regime, he says, have been “imprisoned, exiled or killed,” and the state’s repressive apparatus has been strengthened, offering little prospect of challenge.

Mme Popova notes that the death in custody of dissident Alexei Navalny in February, described as an assassination by those close to him, did not lead to major protests.

The war in Ukraine, notes the analyst, actually seems to have strengthened Vladimir Putin’s popularity among the Russian population rather than weakening it, even if many Western observers prefer to entertain the opposite idea.

It appears that there is a notable minority who are deeply depressed by the war, but that the majority of Russians are apathetic and satisfied with what they see as a form of assertion of Russian nationalism.

Maria Popova, from McGill University

The Russian president, if he remains in power beyond 2030, could surpass in political longevity Joseph Stalin, who led the country for 31 years.

PHOTO ALEXEY MAISHEV, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Patriarch Kirill (left), head of the Russian Orthodox Church, blessed Vladimir Putin.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, blessed Vladimir Putin after the swearing-in ceremony and defended the intervention in Ukraine.

The head of state must sometimes make “formidable” decisions since the consequences, otherwise, can prove “extremely dangerous for the country and the population”, underlined the religious leader.

With Agence France-Presse


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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