What does Putin's address teach us?
In the run-up to the Russian presidential elections the debate triggered by Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address continues apace in Eastern European media. The president unveiled new Russian nuclear weapons in a video broadcast at the beginning of March. Commentators see the multimedia sabre-rattling as highly revealing.
Daycares, pensions, or sabre-rattling
Now it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to the debate triggered by Putin's speech, Radio Kommersant observes:
“The thorough [media] analysis of the arms industry's work will no doubt have met with the public's approval also because the supreme commanders has explained where all the money - in other words their taxes - is going. And since the other items on the budget are also made public, anyone who can read and form an opinion can decide what they find more important: healthcare, roads, childcare, pitiful pensions, or the ability to intimidate the US. Journalists are explaining the problem - naturally with varying degrees of decency and professionalism. And everyone can draw their own conclusions.”
Still mourning the loss of the USSR
For Russian-Ukranian journalist Ivan Yakovyna, Putin's speech on the state of the nation was an expression of nostalgia for the USSR. He writes in Novoye Vremya:
“In his view the entire former USSR is Russia, from which territory, people, etc. were stolen. He can't get it into his head that these are now independent states. In his world there is no Ukraine, no Latvia, no Kazakhstan. There are only 'Russian losses'. His whole life is constant pain over the breakup of the Soviet Union. Essentially he is trying with every means at his disposal to numb this pain. The Soviet anthem, pompous parades on Red Square, the Eurasian Union, the annexation of Crimea, the war in Syria, the break with democracy, the conflict with the West - all these tings are just facets of the same Putinesque desire: to bring the USSR back to life.”
A highly dangerous nuclear threat
Putin's threat raises dangerous expectations, the Tages-Anzeiger comments:
“On the eve of his fourth term of office Putin himself embodies stagnation. Nevertheless a victory against the old rival the US at least seems to offer some consolation, even if it only exists in computer images. For now. Because this frivolous talk of a nuclear attack is extremely dangerous. And it really doesn't make that much difference whether Putin is bluffing or whether he really does have the wonder weapon he boasts of. Whatever the case, he's raising expectations among the public. The Russian playwright Anton Chekhov described the law in these terms: If in the first act a gun hangs on the wall, in the last act it must go off.”
The world must not accept this
The world must not tolerate this provocation, El Mundo admonishes:
“Just two weeks before the presidential election the foreseeable winner Vladimir Putin has stressed his desire to resume the Cold War. In what amounts to a clear violation of the agreements that sealed the end of the Cold War in 1987 and obliged countries to gradually eliminate short and medium range missiles, the Russian president has resumed an alarmingly belligerent discourse to challenge the US. In front of all the nation's cameras Putin presented his new nuclear weapon with its almost 'unlimited' range, accused Trump of having destroyed the 'strategic balance', and stressed Russia's potential. The international community cannot tolerate a provocation that threatens to undermine global stability and peace.”
A cold shower for America's hotheads
The shock effect of Putin's address will in fact promote peace, the state news agency RIA Novosti is convinced:
“The speech acted as a sort of political fire extinguisher thanks to which the Russian president has cooled down the hotheads of the US political and military elite. The inevitable hysteria that we can expect from Western media, politicians and experts is the best proof that the message has hit its target. And while Western media and politicians may accuse Putin of militarising foreign policy and starting a new arms race, his address listing Russia's new weapons systems is a guarantee that the next world war has been indefinitely postponed.”
Just a show for the Russian public?
For political scientist Olessya Yakhno various interpretations are possible. She writes in Ukrayinska Pravda:
“It remains to be seen whether Putin's message to the Federation Council was just a bluff or mere rhetoric or if it really outlines the course the Russian government will adopt after the elections. A course the result of which would be a Russian Federation that is even more isolated economically and politically, against the background of increased military potential. If it is merely rhetoric, it's exclusively directed at domestic audiences. Because the days when the Kremlin hoped to force a new pact on the geopolitical players by raising the stakes and intervening in various conflicts are over.”