Russia’s Retreat in Ukraine Pokes Holes in Putin’s Projection of Force
Russia’s military setbacks may be weakening President Vladimir V. Putin’s reputation at home as a savvy geopolitical strategist.
As Moscow residents celebrated the city’s birthday this weekend with concerts and block parties, Vladislav, a taxi driver who moved to a city near Moscow from the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia looked upon all of the celebratory flags and stages with a bit of scorn. He said his 34-year-old cousin had been killed two weeks ago near Donetsk in Ukraine’s Donbas region, after having been conscripted into the pro-Russian forces. “Here, people are drinking late through the night,” he complained on Sunday morning after a weekend of revelry in the city. “No one cares about what is happening on the front.”
Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst, said that the Kremlin’s decision to play down the intensity and scale of the war in Ukraine had created parallel worlds: the reality of Europe’s biggest land war in generations on the one hand, and the business-as-usual atmosphere in Moscow on the other.