Putin: He who must not be named

From tsar of all of Russia’s tomorrows to a shadowy form
Photo by Valery Tenevoy on Unsplash

Everyone’s probably heard by now about the way the Chinese behaved in the aftermath of the aborted coup in Russia. Beijing said it was on board with efforts to maintain Russia’s national stability “as a friendly neighbour and comprehensive strategic partner in the new era”. And it described the attempted insurrection as Russia’s “internal affairs”.

So far, so predictable.

Slightly less so may be the po-facedness of the Americans. US President Joe Biden said the brief revolt “was part of a struggle within the Russian system”. White House spokesman John Kirby has said that Washington views the Kremlin’s tensions with the Wagner group “as internal Russian matters” and has not plumped for a side. And State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the US communicated to Russia that “this is an internal Russian affair, that in which the United States is not involved and will not be involved”.

There are two points to note in all this pussyfooting around. First, if the Chinese are engaging in quite a bit of fence-sitting, so are the Americans. Second, Beijing is schtum about Vladimir Putin and so is Washington. Neither has explicitly referred to Mr Putin in any official briefing.

Make of that what you will.

Mr Putin has gone from Russia’s god emperor, tsar of all its tomorrows, to he who must not be named.