With his invasion of Ukraine now verifiably in shambles, it appears as though Russian President Vladimir Putin has lost a great deal of his gusto.
Just weeks ago, the ailing Putin was full of rage, threatening the entire world with a nuclear holocaust and suggesting that NATO’s expansion in Europe was going to trigger some sort of Russian-made calamity.
This week, however, the former KGB agent appeared downright demure about it.
“As for the expansion of NATO, including through new members of the alliance which are Finland, Sweden — Russia has no problems with these states,” Putin said Monday at a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance composed of several post-Soviet states.
For months, Russian officials have been saying that should Finland and Sweden join NATO, Russia would receive it as a threat, and respond by building up its military capabilities in the Baltic Sea. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev even suggested in April that nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles could be deployed. Just last week, Putin warned that Finland joining NATO would be a “mistake,” and suggested that Russia would interpret it as an act of aggression.Trending:
But Putin signaled on Monday that Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO is one of relative unimportance, and does not constitute a danger to Russia.
There wasn’t much room for interpretation, either.
“Expansion at the expense of these countries does not pose a direct threat to Russia,” he said.
This could mean that Putin has sent the writing on the wall, sure, but the Russian leader certainly isn’t known for his sensibilities. One has to wonder if there is an ulterior motive at work in this softening of the rhetoric.