Russia withdraws portion of troops from border with Ukraine

russia-withdraws-portion-of-troops-from-border-with-ukraine

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Fighting for his life is certainly a hyperbole but his ratings are historically low and not getting any higher. Covid has really exposed some serious flaws in the management of the country that would otherwise have been possible to smooth over, such as the chronic centralization of wealth in Moscow while leaving the responsibility of dealing with covid on regional governments, which has left many regions struggling to cope and ones such as Harbarovsk have expressed resentment towards Moscow in the past.

Another point is that while the Crimean annexation was largely welcomed by the Russian population for various reasons, the same sentiment regarding Ukraine is utterly absent, at least here in St Petersburg. No one is talking about it - my Russian friends and acquaintances don't even want to discuss it. The bleakness is palpable.

I would struggle to find anyone, even people who nominally support Putin, who would say Russia has handled the pandemic well. Small businesses have been fucked over time and time again, measures such as QR codes and vaccine passes have been deployed and withdrawn back and forth and constantly mired in technical problems. Russians haven't been able to travel anywhere for nearly 2 years. Prices and inflation are rising fairly quickly while wages and income is stagnant. Pensioners have had problems getting money as they used the pension fund to pay for integrating Crimea. Talented Russians are fleeing the country as fast as their visas can carry them - a huge portion of my students as a language teacher cite wanting to leave Russia as a motivation to learn English.

Putin still rides on the reputation he gained of being the man "who led Russia out of the traumatic 90s into a prosperous and stable 00s". Stability is still present more or less, but the prosperous is disappearing quickly, and stability doesn't feel like a given any more.

Putin is not fighting for his life, but he is sitting on a cracking and crumbling throne, and his options for staying in power are narrowing. These moves he has been making lately have a scent of desperation in them.

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