What a truly appalling week Vladimir Putin just had.
He started out the week being booted out of the FIFA tournament in Brazil, which Russia will host in four years. His team only managed to score two goals in three matches despite being fortunately placed in one of the weakest groups in the tournament. Only three teams in the entire tournament scored less, and his hated rival the USA, hardly a world soccer power, advanced to the knockout round. To add to Russia’s shame, its coach (highest paid in the world, and not Russian) tried to blame the debacle on a laser pointer.
Then Pooty watched as not just Ukraine but also Georgia and Moldova signed a formal treaty with the European Union, something Putin has been furiously struggling throughout his presidency to avoid. Not one but three important pieces of post-Soviet space permanently severed their relations with Russia, vastly diminishing Russia’s prestige and influence in the region and vastly increasing the power of the West. Putting the boot in, a newly swaggering Europe actually began issuing ultimatums to Putin.
And then to round things out, more spectacular disaster in space. First Putin’s much-ballyhooed new rocket program, which was supposed to allow Russia to send missiles into space without need of Kazakhstan, using a base on Russian soil, humiliatingly failed to function. And then one of Russia’s last early-warning military satellite simply stopped working while in orbit.
It’s impossible to imagine a worse week for Putin, and when you combine it with the increasingly bleak prospects of the Russian economy you have what well may be the worst week of Putin’s life.