The disappearance of Vladimir Putin from the 5th of this month raised a chorus of voices that theorized about what was happening with the Russian President. More curious still, was the cancellation of several important meetings, including meetings in South Ossetia or in Kazakhstan, close allies of Moscow. There were several theories and different levels of credibility. Some voices proclaimed that Putin would simply be sick with a cold or suffering from stress. Other mentioned political theories, which conjured a coup in the Kremlin, or even the planning of World War III.
However, on Monday, the 16th, Vladimir Putin rose to attend a meeting with the President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, held in St. Petersburg. Interestingly, this meeting had already been the subject of humorous comments last weekend, since the newspaper Rossiya 24 had already done an article on the meeting, wrote in the past tense, leading the online community to declare that Putin would have disappeared because he had traveled to the future.
In good spirits, although somewhat pale, the Russian leader did not shy away from commenting on the rumors in recent days. "It would be boring without the gossip," said Putin. But the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, was more sarcastic, making references to the coup of theories and the rumor about the birth of a son of Putin with his mistress, Alina Kabaeva. He reiterated that he was always honest about what was going on, and that Putin would have been diverted to other tasks requiring their immediate attention. "It is impossible to say more," said Peskov in a final twist.
However this is not the end of history. The truth is that we do not know any details about what Putin had made these days. And while this is not unusual in any state, even for more powers with global influence, the fact remains that the actions of the Russian armed forces have shaken the nerves of the military leaders of NATO and their respective allies. Also on Monday, the largest military exercises on Russian territory since the end of the Cold War were initiated. 45,000 men followed for all types of vehicles (aircraft, combat cars, submarines, etc.), are to undertake training throughout the country. It is clearly a response to the accumulation of Western troops in Eastern Europe, where countries of the former Soviet Union fear future Russian incursions.
Meanwhile, Norway conducts their own exercises, called Joint Viking. It's important to remember that a few years ago Oslo had made an agreement with Moscow for the exploration of various regions of the Arctic disputed by both nations, agreements that have been under some pressure lately. Although Norway swear that the exercises have been planned long ago, the truth is that the spectrum of the Ukrainian crisis weighs on all stakeholders.